Move over, Baby Boomers, the next generation of the workforce is here. And they’re demanding change.
As of 2017, Millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996—make up the largest generation in the workforce. They’re bringing with them new talents, capabilities, and work ethics. They’re also bringing a number of expectations about the type of companies they want to work for, the offices they want to spend their time, and the style of working they want to execute.
Making your company attractive to young professionals is an important step in ensuring long-term growth and success. Today’s top talent isn’t interested in just punching the timecard. They’re looking for meaningful work, a flexible environment, and strong relationships.
We’ve written before about designing a modern workplace, but today let’s dig deeper into the motivations behind these needs so you can better understanding this rising group of talent.
Why: Flexibility takes many forms for young professionals. This is the first generation of workers who grew up in the age of the internet. They are technologically skilled, early adopters of new tech trends, and fully aware of the power and freedom that comes with 24/7 connectivity.
The rise of the gig economy, with 43% of the U.S. workforce expected to go freelance by 2020, has shown that young professionals value flexibility even more than security. In order to compete, traditional companies must offer the same benefits.
In the office, that means this group does not want to be tethered to a single desk. They want the option for activity-based working so they can find a location in the office that is best suited for their current task. Whether that’s brainstorming with a small group in a huddle room, taking a phone call in a private phone booth, finding some quiet time on a couch in a lounge, or taking part in a meeting in a larger conference room.
Slender laptops and mobile phones make it possible to work from anywhere, so they should be empowered to do just that. This includes spaces outside of the office as well, such as remote working from home or a favorite coffee shop at the hours that fit best into their lifestyles. This young workforce expects to be judged by their results, not forced into a traditional 9-5 work environment if it doesn’t work for them.
While young professionals have come to expect these flexible privileges, they don’t take them for granted. They are diligent and deliver, often going the extra mile, no matter the time, to ensure quality. Consider the new father who would rather leave the office at 3 p.m. so he can spend some quality time with his baby before bedtime, then get back to work at a home office after 7 p.m. He’s happier, more motivated, and more likely to be fulfilled and focused when he sits down at his desk.
This generation places an increased amount of importance on social and family time than previous generations. Schedules and needs will change throughout time, often by the day, so companies should adapt to the personal lives of their employees to ensure they feel valued.
Why: Open and honest communication throughout the company is another important way to make young professionals feel valued, and it’s a corporate standard they have come to expect. Millennials want creative freedom to communicate their ideas. They want to feel welcome to express these ideas by their superiors. And they expect honest, thoughtful feedback on their contributions.
When employees feel empowered to express their opinions, it drives participation and collaboration. It makes goal setting an inclusive exercise.
No one gets out of bed each day excited to fill their role as another cog in the wheel. They want to feel that they are contributing to the overall strategy and success of the company. That strategy should be expressed regularly to the workforce by company leaders and an open door policy should be encouraged. Goals, budgets, and overall health of the company should never be considered taboo. Employees need to know what they’re working with in order to understand how to optimize their own departmental or individual strategies.
Transparency also includes a clear path towards career advancement. Ambitious young professionals have their eyes set on career development, no matter their role in the company. Development can take the form of networking opportunities, training, and mentorship. These workers want to know where they stand when the measuring stick comes out, and have the ability to work with their superiors to formulate and execute a plan for improvement and advancement. Transparent dialog is the key to fostering strong relationships.
Why: Today’s young professionals want to feel like you have their backs. In the world of #MeToo and Equal Pay Day, women, in particular, want to know their value in a company. And everyone—men and women alike—works harder when they feel they are in a safe, respectful environment that values all employees. That means fostering company leadership who isn’t afraid to talk about the tough issues, and works to address problems such as the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, work-life balance, LGBTQ rights, and mental health. Doing what you can to ensure your workplace is open, fair, and balanced will engender loyalty from all employees.
Support also goes beyond the walls of the office. Millennials in the workforce want to feel that they are contributing to an important cause. That does not necessarily mean they are all out to save the world or stake their flag in the next Google. Rather, they want to feel that they spend their days working for a company that cares about both their own well-being as well as the community at large. That’s because young professionals stake a piece of their own identity to the company that they represent.
This generation jumps at the chance to engage in community activism, service opportunities, and corporate stewardship programs. They want to know their employer makes decisions that are environmentally responsible and beneficial to the surrounding community. This provides great bonding opportunities for employees, while positively affecting the world around them.
Create an attractive workplace for young professionals
So when designing your physical workspace to better accommodate the rising generation of workers, don’t forget to consider their values, motivations, and beliefs that lie behind them. Young professionals expect a lot from their employers. In return, they give their loyalty, dedication, and diligence in working towards company innovation and success.