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Meeting the Needs of the Millennial Workforce: A Primer

One in three American workers are Millennials (adults born between 1980 and 2000 and aged 19 to 35 in 2016). According to a Pew Research Center analysis, Millennials comprise the largest share of the American workforce.

Haven’t noticed? You will. By 2030, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. And with them come some major changes to the workplace—both in terms of how an office looks and functions. Attending to these Millennials’ needs will be key to attracting and retaining them and ensuring your company’s future success.

Understanding Millennials: Not business as usual

Millennial

Millennial Entrepreneur –  Michael DiPiazza Founder and Owner of JAD95, LLC. Office located at 125 Wolf Rd., Albany, NY.

Gone are the days of hiring a young professional who retires from your company decades later. Millennials typically stay in job for two years. The reason is twofold: 1) Millennials are an entrepreneurial generation willing to build their own ladder if they can’t climb yours, and 2) Millennials simply won’t stay in a job that doesn’t meet their needs and expectations.

Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business conducted a survey of 1,000 college-educated Millennials and found that Millennials “want to work hard, but they also want to work different.”

Say Goodbye to the Corner Office

If you haven’t heard about Google’s and Facebook’s offices, let us fill you in: nap pods, game rooms, all-you-can-eat cafeterias, and climbing walls. If you’re running a small business, these perks may be out of the question.

But if you think a fancy corner office is going to inspire legions of Millennials to rise from the cube farm and sit behind a big oak desk, think again. Millennials view such office constructs as old fashioned, non-collaborative, and inhibitive to creativity and information sharing. One fix is open office space.

According to the International Facility Management Association, 70% of offices had open layouts in 2015. It’s not surprising. Studies show that Millennials feel most comfortable in collaborative, uncluttered environments where they aren’t tethered to desks by cords and hard drives. Jonathan Webb, workplace strategist and vice president of KI Furniture, says companies that attract the best and brightest Millennials design offices that “emphasize sharing ideas, socializing, and treating workers equally.”

That means the corner office—and the partitioned cubicles all around it—represent unapproachable management and a major impediment to the free flow of important information. Lindsey Pollak, a leading voice on Millennials in the workplace, says Millennials “don’t equate space with worth” but rather “value flexibility and common areas that are set up for specific tasks rather than specific people.” Studies also show that Millennials like casual workspaces that remind them of college or home.

Michael DiPiazza, founder and owner of JAD 95, LLC, a dotcom company with offices at 125 Wolf Road in Albany, says the first thing he did upon moving into his new office was to hang a 60-inch flat screen television on the wall.

Remote Control

Employee requests to work from home used to make managers cringe. But advances in mobile technology have made working from home—or the coffee shop, airport, or anyplace with Wi-Fi—mainstream. According to a study conducted by oDesk and Future Workplace, 92% of Millennials want to work remotely, and 87% don’t want a typical 9-to-5 workday.

“Many Millennials would rather work from home than receive higher salaries. They value work life integration, not separation like older generations,” says Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace, in an article for Forbes.

DiPiazza, who is on the cusp of the Millennial generation at age 36, agrees.

“In my line of work, I jump around a lot. Today’s jobs don’t necessarily fit into that old 9-to-5 lifestyle,” DiPiazza says. “I worked hard for years to never have to report to an office 40 hours a week again. My days of sitting in an office all day are over.

But this penchant for remote access doesn’t rule out the need for a brick-and-mortar office. This is, after all, a social generation. To Millennials, an office serves as a touchstone, a place to check in and be part of a “work family.” Your company may need to loosen the reins to show that you support this new workforce mobility in order to be more attractive to Millennial workers.

“I have a start-up, and I need a home base,” DiPiazza says. “I like to get up and go to the office. When I get to the office, I know it’s game time.”

Embrace Technology

Millennials never experienced professional life without the Internet. It bears repeating. Millennials never experienced professional life without the Internet.

A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Millennials at Work:

Reshaping the Workplace, states, “This is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of a key business tool than more senior workers.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because you and your company ultimately benefit.

The bad thing, notes the PricewaterhouseCoopers study, is that 46% of Millennials surveyed believe their bosses don’t understand the way they use technology in their work. It’s not entitlement; it’s that those clunky desktop monitors and pool of shared cell phones simply don’t cut it in this day and age. Today’s world is mobile, fueled by technology, and requires instant access to information for everybody. That translates into a heavy demand for technology—and employees who not only know how to use it, but how to harness its power for the good of your company.

For his part, DiPiazza is scouting his company’s future talent through career development offices at local colleges and universities.

“The combination of youth and technology is key,” DiPiazza says. “Today’s college graduates have a passion and technical skills that are difficult to find elsewhere.”

Get on Board

By all accounts, Millennials are hard workers. If your company is willing to offer engaging, flexible, creative work environments that meet their needs, you can expect great things from them. But don’t get too comfortable…you’ll be hiring Generation Z before you know it.


 

Ready to find or create Millennial-friendly office space? Contact Susan Touhey at 518-458-7726 or stouhey@tagny.com.

 

 

 

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