AS GENERATION Y COME OF AGE, HOW MUST OUR WORK SPACES ADAPT?
BY THE END OF THE DECADE WE CAN EXPECT TO SEE A COMPLETE TURN AROUND IN THE ETHICS, DEMANDS AND REQUIREMENTS OF THOSE WHO ARE OF WORKING AGE. IT IS ESTIMATED THAT THIS SHIFT IN THE WORKPLACE PARADIGM WILL SEE THE AMOUNT OF “BABY BOOMERS” IN THE WORK PLACE FALL FROM 50% TO 25% AND AN INCREASE OF GENERATION-Y WORKERS (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS MILLENNIALS) FROM 25% TO 50% – AND THAT’S JUST WITHIN THE NEXT SIX YEARS.
So who are Generation-Y, why must we change our ways for them and how do we attract and retain them into our workforce?
Generation-Y are those who were born between 1983-1995 and were teenagers around the same time as the new millennium, when the internet was becoming faster and more prevalent in day-to-day life and technology was advancing at an almost alarming rate. In their lifetime so far we’ve gone from walkmans to mp3 players to Bluetooth speakers. Their first phone is likely to have been the Nokia 8210 or even the 3310 with only Snake and Space Impact as standard and in those short few years they will have gone through phone after phone until they reached the iPhone 5s with fingerprint recognition.
From the rapid expansion and improvement of technology, the speed of the internet and the vast amount of information readily available at the fingertips of a whole generation, you will understand why Generation-Y are the creative, adaptable and flexible people that they are. This is the generation that both expect and in many ways demand:
- Engaging work places that in many cases should feel like a home from home and almost residential in nature
- Flexible meeting rooms and plenty of social, collaborative space available
- Be free to handle their work schedules and work in a way that both suits them and allows them to be the most productive
- Higher pay and better benefits in an interesting and challenging job role that suits their lifestyle and needs
- Up to date technology
- Continuous and instant feedback from management without authoritative management styles
- Be able to recognise and tend to their own needs, breaking when they want to, working socially or alone when they need to etc
Providing Generation-Y with new challenges in the work place is of the highest importance. It is estimated that by the time a millennial is 38 years old he or she will have had at least 14 different jobs; this equates to a new job every 1-2 years. The challenge in employing this generation is employee retention.
In a survey by Hays Recruitment Experts, 60% of their Generation Y respondents said that having interesting work was the most important factor when considering a new role or assessing the level of satisfaction that they have in their current job, 47% said they look for their leader to be motivational and 50% said that feeling valued and appreciated is of most importance when considering job satisfaction. Remodelling the office to suit the flexibility and lust for collaborative work of Gen Y employees goes a long way to recognising these needs. Many companies worry that by doing this, they make their work space seem unprofessional and too relaxed. This couldn’t be further from the truth and by staying ahead of the game now, they will reap the rewards ten-fold in the future.
Cisco, a global networking equipment designer and manufacturer, began redesigning their office spaces in 2004 when Generation Y were about to or had just joined the work force and within a few years the vast majority of their work places had been remodelled to adapt to the needs of the new generation and to increase productivity. For Cisco, productivity wasn’t the only thing to improve, absence rates fell and employee turnover decreased; they also noticed that the total workplace resource cost per person dropped by 50%.
Generation-Y is a results focused generation and puts less emphasis on the structure of the working day as opposed to what is achieved within it. If they spend three hours and achieve the results they needed to or preferably go beyond this, why should they be tied to a desk for seven hours? If they know they are more productive sitting in a comfortable, collaborative environment with technology on-tap, why will they sit in silence, squirrelling away behind a desk divider. They won’t do it and will see anywhere that is not catering to this way of working as wasting time that they could be achieving something valuable in. Choy, a Generation Y employee at Cisco said “The Cisco culture isn’t about putting in ‘face time’ at the office, it’s about meeting deadlines and getting results”.
However you feel about it, Generation Y are well and truly shaking up the work place and if your company isn’t embracing the demands of the new workforce, you’re going to fall behind. It’s time to get planning and empower both a new generation and your business.