We live in a world of instant gratification, a world where virtually everything is digital, online or at your fingertips, a world where you can sign-up for Match.com one day and be married the next. While it seems like getting connected is easier than ever on the dating scene, the struggle is real for businesses to find and court qualified candidates. Organizations are rethinking how their culture and space (aka their dating profile) are positioned to attract the next generation of workers.
The Proposition: 75-year-old business with blasé (uninspired) interior and 1980’s video conferencing seeks a motivated and enthusiastic 20-something educated candidate…
The Challenge: Attracting the Younger Generation
Put yourself in the future 20-something candidate’s shoes and ask, what does this ‘older’ organization have to offer? Will a “Baby Boomer” Workplace environment culture appeal to a “Gen Y or Z” candidate like me? By 2019, Gen Z will make up over 20% of the workforce and Gen Y will be hitting its peak as a share of the office workers. Gen Z, also known as the digital generation, are power multitaskers, just starting college. These future workers are simultaneously on their phones, listening to music and writing papers. Social media is the center of their world; hiding behind digital mediums, this generation can sometimes struggle with face-to-face interactions requiring a mix of workplace settings to effectively focus and engage with other team members.
Similar to the impact of the dating scene with the advent of the internet, we all know the workforce is changing. If your organization and workplace has typically been focused on attracting employees from The Boomers or Gen X, is it ready to attract the next wave of candidates? Boomers (while staying in the workforce longer than originally expected) are beginning to retire, in fact 3.6 million are expected to retire in 2016 alone. Inevitably, the staffing gap is being filled by Gen Y and Gen Z. With this shift, we see that Workforce needs and expectations are shifting, in the digital age, workers are expected to be “always accessible” - working longer hours, creating a blur between personal and work life. Creating an office environment that helps support a balance of immediacy and life beyond the office will be important in improving the employee experience and in turn improving retention. Tomorrow’s employees have different ways to measure success rather than salary or paper benefits alone - Right Management found that 45% of employees indicate work/life balance is their top career aspiration and they define success in the workplace by enjoyment/happiness.
The Idea: Attracting the Ideal Partner
Similar to the dizzying amount of profiles available on Match.com. There is a lot of competition out there for qualified candidates, and an office that supports your culture can be your greatest recruitment tools. Beautifying and infusing your brand can leverage your workplace as an amenity, creating an attractive asset for your company. Forming a supportive culture, one that provides people with what they need to succeed both professionally (resources and tools) and personally (on-site barista & fitness centers) will help with new employee recruitment efforts. When potential new hires preview your space, they can already sense what it is like to work there. It has already been noticed with Gen X’s integration into the workplace, that the most important feature was an engaging workplace to allow for a feeling of belonging and to connect with others. A feature previous generations found less important preferring acoustic privacy instead. When competing with other organizations for talent it is important your space stands out.
The Solution: Creating a Winning Proposition
In this online dating world with millions of potential connections, to stand out from the crowd it is important to have an attractive corporate appearance. Some simple changes to your culture and in turn your office, can help with improving your appeal. Having a “great” or “cool” space isn’t everything; creating a culture of openness, flexibility, and connection is important. Some solutions we are seeing clients pursue for their spaces are:
- Focusing on Staff Interactions: Your physical space can either foster or inhibit social engagement at the office. By identifying key connection points and introducing elements to support collaboration - comfortable seating, coffee bars and expanded kitchens immediately off elevators - can spur spontaneous interactions between employees. Allowing areas for social interaction provides an atmosphere where relationships are forged, trust is built and a deeper connection to work life occurs.
- Improving Their Work Area: In addition, engaging staff and understanding their workstyle needs may lead to refining workstations that best fit their day to day tasks. For example by lowering panel heights, adjusting orientation (to face out), and providing flexible furniture like sit-stand desks or caster based cabinets can improve space flexibility and communication within the office environment and in turn the employee experience.
- Introducing New Work Zones: Meeting the needs of Gen Y and Gen Z means providing clearly defined areas for focus work, teamwork and social interactions. Infusing enclave spaces that support blended face-to-face and online meetings as well as refuge spaces where employees can receive real-time mentoring can improve employee options and in-turn overall satisfaction at work.
To compete today in this instant gratification world means more than offering just pen and paper benefits. New employees entering the workforce are not only looking for a company to work for, they are looking for the experience and a community to embrace as theirs. Investing in your office space and facility can be a tool in your arsenal to attract and retain the next generation of talent.
Your New Proposition: 75-year old business, with recently renovated modern, attractive, branded and flexible office featuring the latest technology (did we mention a bonus space for monthly fun social gathering events) seeks 20-something candidate... Does that sound like a better proposition to you?
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Jackie Posselt, ASID, LEED AP ID+C