Generation Y, those mobile-wielding, tech savvy free-thinkers have overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation in America and comprise a considerable chunk of the workforce.
As such, the workplace that served previous generations is no longer ideal for today’s (and tomorrow’s) workers, innovators, and managers. Companies that aim to attract and retain top talent find themselves in a race to progress and evolve their corporate culture. To do so, they must offer new ways to work, communicate, and collaborate.
This list of three workplace must-haves will position companies to leverage the characteristics that define the Millennial generation:
1. Mobile Communication
Beyond offering team members a mobile phone (or a mobile phone allowance), companies need to find ways to reinforce the mobile communication strengths of this generation. They have grown up with smartphones, tablets, laptops, texting, Tweeting, and Snapchatting. Empower them to use their always-connected lifestyle to better the business. Invest in the work and productivity apps they need, prioritize digital workplace communications, and modernize the technology they use to get their work done.
Regardless of the apps your business chooses, make sure Millennials can collaborate on the go (Slack, Asana), and that they have access to wikis and social networks to share ideas, mind mapping tools, and a virtual white board of sticky notes.
Research commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by SurveyMonkey uncovered that 93% of Millennials say the latest technology is important to them when choosing an employer. To attract, employ, and retain happy employees who will likely fuel a company’s innovation, give them the apps they want, the data security they need, and the speed they crave.
Keep in mind, though, that Millennials are not only interested in interacting through technological means. Adobe’s May 2016 study revealed that Millennials value interpersonal interaction over digital interaction at work, so give them the technology, but also invest in Happy Hours and teambuilding outings for them to connect. It is often said that this generation spends so much time with “virtual” relationships (social networks, chatting, even online dating) that they are disconnected from their real peers, but studies show this is far from true. In fact, they respond well to opportunities for interaction and shared physical space.
2. Flexible collaboration
Millennials view the workplace in stark contrast to that of their parents and grandparents. To enable them to do their best work is to be flexible and define new ways for them to collaborate with co-workers.
Outfit workstations to be flexible and accommodate different people at different times. Imagine the Silicon-Valley startup offices with shared workstations, adjustable office furniture, and productivity-enhancing tech gadgets – aim for your own version of that, no matter where your company is or what it does.
Consider these solutions:
- An open-space office that is ideal for collaboration
- Workstations that have adjustable Sit-Stand desks to easily allow for different workers to use them each day
- Dual monitor arms to connect laptops to. With these, Millennials can work from any workstation or area in the office. They can also make sure the screen is at the right height for their bodies.
- Gel wrist rests to protect their bodies from common injuries from activities such as typing and using the mouse for prolonged periods of time.
- Wireless phone chargers and hands-free headsets to empower their chosen communication styles
Outfit the office with conference tables, webcams, and white boards for official collaboration; but also comfortable sofas, ping-pong tables, and gourmet coffee so they can brainstorm informally. You can also arrange walking meetings to get their blood pumping, energy levels rising, and innovative ideas flowing.
Remember that flexibility is key, so don’t make it a policy to clock in and out. The most important thing is that they get their work done, and that they get it done well. If your team needs to stay and work into the evening, order them dinner. If they want to work from home a couple days a week, let them – just ensure they have stable internet connection. Providing your team with a flexible workplace creates a comfortable and supportive environment, which is what they crave and what motivates them to do their best work.
3. Something to believe in
By and large, Millennials want to make the world a better place: more compassionate, innovative, and sustainable. According to Fast Company:
- 50% of Millennials would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values
- Millennials want to work with purpose
Having a corporate mission statement, values, and goals is no longer enough. Companies need to align on passions and commitments to engage Millennials. But beyond the verbiage, they need to give their Millennial co-workers opportunities to contribute and excel at the difference the company is making. Acknowledge them, reward them, and celebrate their commitment to making a difference.
One of Fortune magazine’s picks for 100 Best Workplaces for Millennials in 2015 was SAS, where the opportunity to make a difference is a tenet seen both by the company and by its Millennial workforce:
“SAS is a place where you can make a difference. Our Millennials bring an energy and a new way of looking at things and keep us challenged and progressing” said SAS Vice President of Human Resources Jenn Mann.
“SAS’s supportive and engaging environment allows me to quickly see the impact of my work in the office and in my community. It truly is one of the best workplaces,” adds Associate Software Developer Nolan Piland, who works on SAS®Curriculum Pathways®.
The Future is Millennials
In less than 10 years, by 2025, Millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the workforce. To prepare is to act now to shift your corporate culture to be one that supports, inspires, engages, and respects the Millennial must-haves of mobile communication, flexible collaboration, and something to believe in.