We need to quit the Millennial-bashing, the hating, and the generational dissing. The kids are more than alright; they are a vital part of the workforce.
More than one in three (35%) working Americans are millennials. What they want in office design, what inspires them to perform at the top of their game, are the things that make an entire company hum with excitement and productivity.
The problem is, up until now, we've still been thinking of Millennials as young people who want shiny toys like office slides and happy hour lounges instead of adults who want smarter ways to be productive and collaborative to grow the business they love working for.
Furthermore, studies indicate the reasons for keeping Millennials satisfied are substantial:
- 80% of millennials say they seriously consider how a position will affect their work-life balance, but only 62% of older workers agreed (Flexjobs)
- 90% of Millennials want to grow their careers with their current companies (Bridge)
- 44% of millennial leaders say they intend to stay at their same company for more than 15 years; 29% of non-millennial leaders said the same thing (The Conference Board)
Their desires add benefits to the office environment rather than detract from it. It's just that we're stuck in a mindset that they're spoiled kids who don't deserve anything more than they've already received. But, they're not asking for high-speed roller coasters and vending machines that dispense trained puppies. What Millennials want are reasonable office features and amenities that benefit everyone.
Give them light.
Light makes us happy, after all. Natural light positively affects our mood and increases our sense of wellbeing. When designing new space or retrofitting current space, design using large energy efficient solar power windows. They will offset the cost of installation and save the planet. Everyone wins, including Millennials and Earth.
What Millennials want are reasonable office features and amenities that benefit everyone.
A little artwork on the walls, pops of color in the furnishings, and sophisticated design - these things matter to the Millennial. They have an eye for aesthetics and appreciate an environment that is attractive and intellectually appealing. If they're going to spend time there, they want it to be an attractive place to be.
Make it move.
Adjustable furniture such as sit and stand desks and ergonomic chairs make a massive difference in how everyone approaches work. That sitting is the "new smoking" isn't lost on this generation and these perks are expected in a modern office. The old paradigm of coming into work, pulling up an uncomfortable chair, and staying put until you punched out for the day is thankfully a standard most Millennials have never experienced.
Versatility is key.
From collaborating, to alone time, the need for multi-function furniture makes changing headspace efficient and comfortable. A dedicated room with cozy furniture helps with a necessary teamwork brainstorming session, while a quiet nook with an acoustic chair is the ideal spot for heavy concentration.
Amenities are meaningful.
Remember what we said about roller coasters and vending machines? They don't want those, but Millennials are looking for some nice perks. Everyone on your team will benefit from an onsite gym (or a gym membership), a community garden, a media room, and/or a bicycle rack. Take it up a notch with a concierge service to fetch dry cleaning, prescriptions, and groceries. Remember, the happier they are, the better work they'll do.
The old paradigm of coming into work, pulling up an uncomfortable chair, and staying put until you punched out for the day is thankfully a standard most Millennials have never experienced.
Millennials aren't the enemy, and the things they want aren't extravagant.
And if you're saving money on energy efficiency and employee retention, your bottom line actually won't suffer in the long run. It's a psychological barrier of feeling like we're giving into a generation that "doesn't deserve it." But don't worry, Gen Z will be joining the workforce before too long, and we'll have someone new to complain about before we know it.