The huge generational shift that came with the millennial population coming of age and entering the workforce was once regarded with apprehension. Employers wondered how they would have to adapt in order to attract this generation of young adults, who were preparing to fill in the workforce gap created by the retiring Baby Boomer population.
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force as of 2019, making up 1 in 3 American workers, or 35%. Pew Research Center defines the millennial generation as those born between 1981 and 1996, which comprises an estimated 72.1 million people.
With the youngest of the Baby Boomers turning 57 in 2021, their percentage of the workforce population is on track to decrease exponentially over the next decade. Meanwhile, millennials will be busy climbing the corporate ladder. Because of this, it’s important for employers to understand how millennials think, and what appeals to them when choosing a job.
Creating an Inviting, Productivity-Inducing Workspace
Creating a millennial-friendly workspace will not only help attract this valuable source of labor, but also help retain them in the long run. To help keep millennial turnover low in your organization, you need to understand their workplace preferences.
It’s safe to assume that after observing many of their Generaton X parents work traditional 9-to-5s that millennials are not keen on the idea of a sedentary cubicle life. Millennials don’t want to sit all day in one place to work: they want flexibility, freedom, and opportunities to collaborate and interact with others. Curate your office and office culture to appeal to millennial preferences with these five tips:
1. Millennials Prefer Flexible, Open Office Space
Embracing an open, flexible workspace is crucial for keeping millennials happy. They want less walls and partitions and more opportunities for connecting and interacting with others. Modular furniture is essential for this kind of workspace. Tables that can be lined up, grouped together or separated are preferred over cubicles and heavy desks. These workspaces also acknowledge that not everyone has the same style of working: some prefer standing, or sitting on an exercise ball, or having the flexibility to take their laptop to a quiet nook to work when facing a deadline.
This kind of modular, open space concept provides not only opportunities for people of different abilities and workspace preferences to work together in the same room, but allows for more creativity and collaboration among employees and between employees and their bosses.
All of this does not mean that private offices are bad, or that conference rooms are a way of the past. They can just be revamped as huddle rooms, which are smaller, more flexible rooms that allow a small number of employees to meet on-demand. Huddle spaces are also a similar concept, but have no walls. It’s also important to keep in mind office design trends that align with social distancing guidelines; they’re in place for the foreseeable future and may be here to stay for the long-term.
All of these spaces go hand in hand with the style of today’s workforce, which embraces impromptu meetings and small team problem solving. In addition, with many companies employing people all over the world, video conferencing space is a must-have. When huddle rooms are thoughtfully rendered as technology-focused spaces, outfitted with interactive flat panel displays or projectors, easy-to-use audio features, and modular furniture, millennials have everything they need to conduct productive meetings.
2. Millennials Want the Latest Technology
The most apparent characteristic that sets the millennials apart from previous generations is their comfort with new forms of technology. They reached their teenage and young adult years just as innovations in technology began to ramp up at lightning speed. While the oldest of the millennial generation (those who are now approaching their 40s) spent their adolescence without smartphones and social media, the youngest of the generation, now in their mid-20s, grew up learning how to navigate the constant flow of new technology. Because of their familiarity with technology, millennials are not only comfortable using and learning the latest technologies, but they expect their workplace to stay on top of and invest in the latest innovations.
Making sure your company is keeping up with technology can look a number of ways. If you are looking to bring your company’s work experience up to speed with modern technology, investing in workplace automation and digitization services can make this process fast and easy. If you’re still using physical documents and files, switching to a secure, cloud-based system will eliminate the costs incurred using paper, create a more streamlined way to access company information, and create a more sustainable workplace. Document management systems allow employees to access data from anywhere, which is crucial in a world where remote work is so prevalent.
When paper documents are essential to the way you do business, it can be helpful to upgrade your print technology to modern multifunction devices. Xerox ConnectKey Technology, for example, not only utilizes a tablet-like interface but will allow employees to print, scan and share documents from their phone or cloud storage. A wide variety of apps can be used with ConnectKey Technology to speed up previously time-intensive work, saving your company valuable time and freeing up manpower. For example, you can convert hand-written notes into digital files, turn hardcopy documents into MP3 files, or even instantly translate documents into over 40 languages.
3. Remote Work is Popular with Millennials
Another personality trait of many millennials is the need to have a work-life balance. Because of their preference for a more flexible work schedule, many millennials enjoy the opportunity to work from home, even if it is only a few days a week; although I’m sure a lot of us got our fill of working from home during the lockdowns – anyone else looking forward to going back to the office?! As we adjust to the new normal and businesses are slowly beginning to transition back to having employees (safely) in the office, now is a great time to establish work from home and hybrid workplace policies and practices.
As we mentioned earlier, implementing document management systems will allow employees to access data from anywhere, so productivity doesn’t suffer while employees work remotely. Another way to stay connected is with video conferencing applications such as Zoom, or using an instant-messaging style business communication platform like Slack. These practical solutions can help make employers more comfortable with the work from home structure while offering the flexibility and autonomy many millennials enjoy.
4. Company Culture and Values are Important to Millennials
A large part of what can attract and retain millennial employees has not so much to do with the workspace, but everything to do with the way a company does business. If millennials feel that their job does not have a larger purpose, that they’re not offering value, or that their organization is not looking to improve or contribute to society in a meaningful way, they will be more likely to move on and seek other employment. Establishing what your company values are and being transparent about your business practices will gain you many brownie points with young people, who are much more socially conscious than previous generations.
Something else to consider is your company culture. When a company does not have a defined culture, such as how employees are expected to behave or what the workflow is supposed to look like, millennials may feel lost at sea. Communication of expectations is huge for millennials, who often need reassurance that they are on the right track. Set up your company culture to help them succeed by getting serious about your brand and online presence, making your values clear to anyone who visits your website or office space, and clearly communicating your company’s vision.
5. Millennials Prioritize Opportunities for Growth and Development
This probably goes without saying, but if your company doesn’t provide a pathway for your employees to advance, they won’t stick around forever. This trend isn’t specific to millennials either; however, the vast number of resources and technology available to young people allows them to see what is possible, and many millennials won’t be satisfied by fulfilling the same role with no growth for 20+ years.
One of the most important ways to keep millennial workers around is to give them chances to prove their worth and continue to grow and achieve. Not every company is structured to allow for a lot of upward mobility, but where it is possible, make it known to your millennial employees that good, hard work can be rewarded with more responsibilities and a higher salary. Pair that with opportunities to learn new skills on the job, and the high millennial employee turnover that plagues many industries won’t be an issue for your company.
Attracting, Retaining Millennials is Up to You!
A millennial-friendly (and enticing) workplace takes effort to create. If you take the time to optimize your company’s workflow with a technology-forward attitude and embrace the flexibility and creativity of this generation, your company will draw top talent! Utilizing and embracing the latest workplace technology can help put you on the right track to creating a more seamless work experience for the company as a whole.
As an office equipment and technology solutions company, we’ve been providing companies with industry-leading office equipment and solutions for over 30 years; we’re also focused on advancing the way people and technology work together with a continuum of services to meet the needs of a diverse, ever-evolving workforce (such as millennials)!
In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we’re offering amazing discounts on the latest office technology and solutions such as multifunction printers and interactive displays – check out our latest offerings here 😊
We’re also entering anyone who schedules a demo with us through the end of March for a chance to win a $200 visa gift card. You’ll also be entered into our 30th anniversary grand prize drawing.