It’s official. Millennials are here and they’re not going away anytime soon. More than one-in-three American workers today are millennials, and by 2020 nearly half of all U.S. workers will be millennials. While millennials often catch flack from the older generations, in the end, they can make for really amazing employees.
As this new generation rises, so does the notion for a new and improved workplace structure that can accommodate millennials’ diverse needs. Gone are cubical farms and dull office spaces, strict 9-5 schedules and the occasional monthly birthday cake celebration. Even though millennials won’t be your typical heads-down cubicle worker, there’s no need to panic. Just a few small changes can turn any office into one that is millennial-friendly, and you’ll find that changes to suit the needs of the under 30 often impress your older generations as well.
How can you make sure your office culture attracts and retains the best millennial talent?
You don’t need to go full-Google with swings coming down from the ceiling, but make sure that there is defined space in your office for employees to openly collaborate. millennials love working together and thrive off human interaction. Whether it’s working side-by-side with their colleagues, or a live 15-minute brainstorm session, giving them the space and opportunity to collaborate will keep millennial employees happier and more engaged throughout the workday. Employees spread out, or even overseas? Video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, Highfive, or Zoom enable “face-to-face” meetings even when employees are miles away.
You’ve probably heard it before but I’m going to tell you again. Millennials love perks. Whether it’s healthy snacks in the office, weekly yoga sessions, cold-brew or kombucha machines, or more practical things like on-site laundry or dry cleaning, millennials want to work somewhere where they know their employer appreciates them.
Perks also make for great recruiting tools and often times become a part of your company's culture. Everyone gather ‘round for some kombucha!
Employee recognition and employee rewards are one of the easiest things to do and can make a huge impact on keeping millennial employees engaged in the workplace. In a recent study, 37% of employees chose “Recognize Me” as their top motivator for great work - so investing in recognition can really pay off in productivity and increased company revenue. Whether it’s a simple high-five, a personal email from the CEO, or challenging yourself to go skydiving after hitting your sales goals, recognizing and rewarding your employees is something that needs to be done consistently and meaningfully. Employee recognition can’t be one-and-done, it needs to be outlined clearly so employees know what actions deserve reward, and allow for ongoing participation like an Employee of the Month system so that employees have a target to strive for and look forward to achieving during their career. And employee atrecognition should be meaningful - best practice is to tie recognition efforts to your company values so that employees are more motivated to strive to live within your values every day, and are performing actions that will best deliver on your bottom line.
Millennials want to know that their employers see them as more than just a cog in the wheel. As a People Leader, develop programming that focuses on their development both personally and professionally. You can offer book clubs, monthly mentoring sessions, or send them to industry seminars. Focusing on their development will not only reinforce that you care about them, but will also pay dividends for the company. And as a millennial Manager, work 1:1 with your employee to customize their growth plan and understand which methods of employee recognition will best incentivize and encourage them to perform towards that next, higher level.
Last but not least, millennials want to be a part of something bigger. A recent IBM study shares that more than 50% of millennials say they would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values, and 90% want to use their skills for good. They want to know that they are helping solve a problem, and have a clear vision of the impact their work is making. Whether they are an Account Executive or a Receptionist, tying their personal contributions to the bigger picture of the company will keep them motivated and engaged.
There you have it. Five simple things that any office can do to make sure they are millennial-friendly. We’d love to hear from you - add to the Comments below what ideas you’re hoping to put into practice, or new ideas that you’d like to share!
August Noble is a Marketing Coordinator at SnackNation. His passion is helping workplace leaders build happier, healthier, and more productive workplaces.