7 Millennial-Inspired Ways to Improve Your Workplace
Millennials, defined by the Pew Research Center as people born between 1986 and 1991, became the most populated generation in the workforce in 2016. Employers today are finding if they want to attract top talent in this age group, they'll need to transform their old-school workplaces into something more modernized.
Employers are now realizing that the majority of millennials hold different values and expectations of work than previous generations. For instance, they highly prize work-life balance and are more than willing to job-hop to find a fulfilling work situation. To meet these new demands, you'll most likely need to take their values and expectations into consideration. Examine these seven millennial-inspired suggestions to adjust your corporate culture and improve your workspace.
1. Consider physical locations
Millennials generally resist commuting a long distance to work. They prefer home and work to be close in proximity so they can walk, ride a bike, or minimize their carbon footprint. If you're looking for new space or to expand, it's a good idea to keep this in mind when seeking locations. Look for facilities near public transit or that are easy to walk and bike-friendly.
2. Focus on a healthy work-life balance
Millennials don’t want to sacrifice quality of life for career advancement by staying at the office late every day and taking work home on the weekends. They also chafe at a rigid 9-to-5 mindset. This generation is all about maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Employers that respect and foster this will attract more millennial talent. Options to consider include:
- Flexible hours
- Remote work options/work-from-home days
- Generous vacation and sick leave
While it may initially seem to employers that offering these types of options could lead to cyberloafing or other unproductive behavior, converse statistics suggest that flexible schedules and work options will lead millennials to higher levels of productivity. Keep in mind, this “always-on” generation is more willing to make up work time during off-work hours than previous ones have been – as long as it’s by choice..
3. Provide office perks
Cool office perks tend to appeal to millennials, as they are very socially oriented. Creativity and coolness definitely score points them. Consider integrating these perks into your company’s monthly calendar.
- Food – Offer a Friday office-sponsored lunch or party once or twice a month. Also, consider opening up an in-house café that offers healthy food options.
- Games – Look for ways to insert gamification into the workday, fostering friendly forms of competition among workers. Or add a game room for employees to use during breaks.
- Holiday gift exchange – Make it low-budget, low-stakes, festive, and fun.
- Lax dress code – This small perk that costs nothing can go a long way for millennial satisfaction.
- On-site daycare – This also enhances healthy work-life balance and provides needed convenience.
Perks like these typically are highly appreciated by millennial employees. Anything offered along the lines of free or fun will be embraced.
4. Modernize your workspace
Millennials generally don't respond well to a cubicle environment lit by fluorescent tubes. They prefer to work in open, airy, and naturally lit spaces. If you want to appeal to millennials, look for ways to modernize your office.
Windows are also surprisingly important. One survey found 66 percent of millennials simply want access to sunshine as a top priority, along with artwork/creative imagery, and "easily reconfigurable" spaces and furniture. Bottom line: Sterility is out; a warm environment is in.
5. Emphasize health and wellness
Wellness is a concept millennials tend to take seriously. Companies looking to appeal to millennial employees can cater to this preference in many ways.
- Free yoga and meditation classes to allow relaxation and contemplation.
- Free or reduced membership fees for a gym, or access to an on-site gym.
- Ergonomic furniture to provide comfort and reduce risks associated with repetitive stress injuries.
- Generous breaks throughout the day.
Some of these adjustments will entail initial costs but should bring a healthy ROI. Over time, these benefits are likely to increase employee morale and productivity, making them a good investment in the long run.
6. Offer meaningful work
There's no denying that sometimes the office requires mind-numbing work such as filing, taking calls, entering data, and similar mundane tasks. However, it can be beneficial to mix in some meaningful work for employees who are primarily engaged with less-than-exciting tasks. This generation likes a challenge and has a strong desire to perform work that matters. Find a project they can contribute to and gain professional development at the same time … which leads us to the next suggestion:
7. Provide development opportunities
Most millennials consistently strive to learn and improve. Be sure to offer opportunities for personal and professional development to satisfy this desire and keep employee engagement strong.
- Training on cutting-edge technology
- Full or partial tuition reimbursement
- Non-credit continuing education classes
- In-house seminars on management and leadership
- Employee appreciation days that offer seminars on personal finance, improv, or even self-defense (Think outside the box and see what other ideas emerge.)
Additionally, don't be just a boss; be a mentor, too. Millennials respond well to leaders who lead by example and managers who are willing to share knowledge and experience.
When it comes to attracting millennial talent, you'll need to take a more holistic approach, not unlike you would with marketing, sales and fulfillment efforts. The investments needed to do this will pay off. Overall, millennials thrive in a collaborative, friendly, and fun work environment. The highly competitive environments of previous decades just don't fit into the millennial way of thinking. The majority of them prefer team-oriented and collaborative places to work.
According to a 2016 Forbes report, projections anticipate that by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce will be composed of millennial workers. When this time arrives, you'll want to have already prepared. By making these adjustments, not only will you reduce current employee turnover, but you'll also stand a better chance of attracting and retaining top talent for the future. Chances are, companies that ignore millennial preferences and neglect to invest in revitalizing their workplaces will find the top workers flocking to competitors that did reinvent their workplaces with millennial preferences in mind.