Open plan workspaces and flatter hierarchies were part of a new type of workplace that rose with social and mobile connectivity in the 2000s.
Almost 20 years later, the next evolution of the workplace has arrived, and with it, the need to adapt. Now is the time for companies of all sizes to evolve and meet the expectations of today’s millennial workers on everything from birthday celebrations and office design, to bonuses and team away-days.
In the past 20 years, technology has led to fundamental shifts in how we communicate. The ability to stay constantly connected has blurred the line between who we are online and offline, in and outside of work. For many workers, the past decade has broken down the clear divide between when you’re working and when you’re not. Our work-self is part of who we are whether we’re in the office, at home, or on the road.
And while technology has created incredible advances and opportunities, it has also changed the way we relate to each other. There is now a need more than ever for new physical spaces that bring people together.
This flexible approach to working created a changing employee mobility.
That’s why in the last five years, workspaces that enable communication, interaction – that make you feel like you’re part of a community – have come to be in such high demand.
If the millennial generation is a group that will make up 50 per cent of the global workforce by 2020 it is important that moves for change are made now.
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Employers need to create an ethos of meaningful work, connection, and innovation with this new generation and change buzzwords into real action.
In the 2017 Shapers Survey from YouthMatters and the World Economic Forum, the millennial generation in Europe ranked “sense of purpose/impact on society” and “work-life balance” over “salary/financial compensation.” And beyond that, the ability to have an impact on a company’s purpose. Globally, the number one response to how companies can create a youth-friendly culture is “creating opportunities to contribute to vision and strategy.”
It has become clear that just sharing the company’s mission isn’t enough. As an employer, you need to listen to your teams, share their insights, and show how you’ve integrated them into the company’s strategy.
When your employees make these meaningful contributions, monetary rewards and bonuses have always been the usual route. But it’s time to think outside the box and give people what means the most to them personally. Ask them what would enhance their lives.
Whether this is through the trip of a lifetime; a bursary for further education; significant time off to refresh, courses to re-skill, a car, flights to spend time with family, reward them with what really matters to them.
Another way to boost productivity is to give your employees access to leadership directly; in my experience, younger workers value collaboration and they want to understand the company vision and the people behind it. So, alongside an open-door policy and monthly all-company meetings, give your employees the opportunity to learn the nitty gritty of the business.
Share with them the financials and what the numbers mean, discuss the year ahead strategy, and create a chance for them to look back with you at the previous year.
With this open honesty comes the opportunity for them to stare the risk of change down the barrel of the gun.
For a healthy high-growth company, change is constant, and must be welcomed. For many companies, especially SMEs, change is difficult because it makes employees worry about their roles and futures.
It is your responsibility as an employer to not demonise change, and instead market it as a signpost for growth.