Attracting and Retaining Millennials with a Cool Office Design
Ready or not, millennials are entering the workforce and are essential to the future of your business. Lure them in with one of their workplace must-haves: a cool office design.
Josh and Jessica have graduated, done some travelling overseas, and now feel it’s time to get a real job. They want to work somewhere they can make a difference. Somewhere they will be valued and given plenty of professional development opportunities. With a good workplace culture. And flexibility for work-life balance.
The millennial factorAs millennials or Gen Ys, Josh and Jess were born between 1980 and 2000. These digital natives are creative, innovative and have a reputation for being entitled. During their 13 or more years of education they were nurtured in stimulating environments with colour, technology and dynamic classrooms and campuses. Movement was a primary focus of their daily routine. Versatile furniture and tech was used to keep them engaged and active, as well as enhancing collaboration with their classmates. Beyond the classroom they hung out in wifi-enabled malls that resemble hotel lobbies, or in the plush media room at home or their friend’s. All this comfort and convenience, for better or worse, has conditioned them to thrive in these environments.
Generation whyUnderstanding this about Australian millennials should be a priority for businesses. Our population is ageing, and unlike the USA where millennials are “now the largest living generation" and will account for one third of their adult population by 2020, in Australia the percentage of young people is projected to decrease over the coming decades. We already lose a lot of our top young talent to the overseas market and need to implement strategies to attract and retain this generation with their energy, enthusiasm, fresh ideas and creativity.
The Google effectThe look of your workplace can play a big role in attracting or repelling millennials. If you survive their scrutiny of your job ad and website design (by which they will mercilessly judge you and decide whether you’re good enough for them), the next hurdle is your physical environment. Remember, they have cultivated an almost compulsive need for comfort and stimulation over their short lifetime. They have also been exposed to the enviable Google-style offices with their playground atmosphere and have developed certain expectations for what their workplace will look like. They expect to work somewhere that is flexible in its design, with different zones to accommodate how, where and when they feel like working.
Instant successYou don’t have to go to Google-esque extremes to create the right environment – in fact a straight-up copy of their style could work against you. But there are some things you can do right now that will help your office become more appealing to millennials. Start by transforming at least one meeting room into an agile space. Our guide will give you tips for maximising its use. Millennials will love the freedom to use a properly equipped space beyond their desk. Use modern, versatile and colourful furniture that allows them to choose how to work – sitting, standing, lounging; alone or in groups. And of course, the room will need to be equipped with good wifi and the right tech. The other space that will need an immediate make-over is your entrance, foyer or reception area. If you’ve passed their online assessment of your business, you still have to make a good first impression when they walk through the door for their interview. Use your brand colours and choose furnishings and accessories that suit the style and culture of your company. If you create a space that conveys your brand identity you can help them to decide if you’re the right fit for them. It will also send a strong visual message to clients, visitors and current staff that you have a strong and healthy brand.
Next stepUpdating these two spaces is a good start but more needs to be done if you’re serious about luring in millennials. Ideally you should be refurbishing your whole office about every 10 years. If you have reached or are nearing this date, it’s time to take action and investigate new styles in office design that will be attractive to the young people you are trying to recruit. Speak to our furniture experts at Office National. We will work with you to find a design that is best for both your office space and how you use it, with a focus on integrated technology. An Activity Based Working design offers you the flexibility to create spaces that will meet the changing needs of your business and the people working there. If you’re not quite ready for the full refurb, consider adding just a few activity based spaces. Use wall partitions or filing and storage units to separate areas. Add some sit-stand desks and lounges to give more options for how to work. You can make other small but effective changes like updating your breakroom or adding some colour to your office by painting or decorating.
Return on investmentThe investment you make in a cool office design to attract millennials will also pay off by helping them to be productive and encouraging them to stay. An agile workplace can foster the collaboration and interaction that millennials love. This is a critical shift for the longevity of your company with collaboration considered to be the core of today’s workplace. Rather than pitting employees against each other in the old competitive model, collaborative workplaces recognise that a good workplace culture with healthy relationships is a more effective and efficient way to reach your goals. The sense of community developed in a more open office where employees are encouraged to interact will also make it a place they want to be, with relationships that will make it harder to leave, helping you to keep them there longer. And research has shown that making your workplace more attractive has the added benefit of boosting trust in new employees.
Everyone winsCreating a millennial-friendly workplace may initially seem threatening to your current employees, especially if it is phrased this way. Avoid blaming the millennials for any changes and emphasise the benefits of flexibility, increased productivity and innovation. The good news is that agile work environments are growing in popularity with other generations who have also become accustomed to curling up on a lounge with a laptop to get work done. Companies that offer more choice have been shown to grow more and have a third less turnover. With the right leadership, your aim to create a flexible, cool office design that attracts top millennial talent can have a positive effect across the whole company.
The future of your business success lies in your ability to find and keep the right people. You can attract the current generation entering the workforce by creating an environment they want to work in. With a new cool office design, you will appeal to millennials and provide a space where they will be happy and productive.