The number of millennials in the workforce continues to grow. In 2015, more than a third of American workers were millennials, according to the Pew Research Center. That number is only expected to rise as more millennials finish college and foreign millennials immigrate to the United States. Additionally, the oldest members of generation Z are starting to enter the workforce.
These younger generations don’t just represent the largest current segment of the workforce; they’re also changing the workforce. Young workers have different work expectations and wish lists than their generation X and baby boomer parents and grandparents. To retain and keep top talent, businesses will need to focus on giving the younger generations more of what they want in the workplace.
Skip the Fun
Countless business articles and HR presentations point to millennials and generation Z wanting to have fun in the workplace. Suggestions to keep them happy include everything from a creative space where they can play air hockey and bat around ideas to installing giant slides instead of stairs to help them break up the monotony. However, a comprehensive study by Gallup found that fun workplace retreats may not be the key to keeping young workers. Only around 25 percent of millennials said having a dedicated creative space at the office was important to them.
Instead, many young workers are looking for workplaces that focus on comfort, and cramped office spaces and uncomfortable desk chairs will soon be a thing of the past. Today’s workers want spaces that offer more flexibility. Converting an extra meeting room into a lounge with comfortable seating, side tables and outlets for charging devices, and space to stretch out appeals to the young workforce.
Finding the right furniture that mixes the right professional message with comfort isn’t impossible, but it takes some careful planning. Although some casual offices have incorporated futons and beanbag chairs, “L” shaped sofas and wide-seated, mid-century modern furniture is a popular professional look.
Ditch the Cubicle
Not long ago, a job seeker was almost guaranteed a cubicle on the first day of work, but young workers are looking for open, collaborative spaces instead of cubicles or even private offices. MTV’s “No Collar Workers” study found that nine out of 10 millennials surveyed wanted their workplace to be a social, fun space where they could collaborate and even make friends.
For employers, that means opting for open work spaces over closed cubicles. Large work tables with ample room for multiple seating appeal to the younger crowd who likes to chat and brainstorm with fellow workers. Employers who opt for larger, open office spaces fare well with this demographic, especially when they incorporate flexibility into their overall design and furnishings.
Blending Work and Life
It’s very important to millennials to have a good work/life balance, and that doesn’t just mean flexible work hours and more time away from the office. When picturing a dream job, many young workers want a work experience that blends life outside the office with life inside the office.
Although it would be great if every office building could open its own Jamba Juice and Starbucks, a few small design changes may be all that’s necessary to meet this challenge. For example, it’s possible to create a true getaway spacing for unwinding by swapping out hard, uncomfortable “break room” furniture with a few comfortable sofas and chairs and a TV. Outside break spaces should also be adequately furnished, and bonus features like fire lamps and comfortable outdoor lighting make a great impression on young workers who prefer to work flexible — and often later — schedules.
Younger workers also appreciate engaging — and relaxing — eating areas. Older offices relied on café-style seating with bar stools and high tables, but upgrading to lower tables and comfortable chairs creates a communal eating space that is modern and inviting.
For a modern office to keep up with the times, it will have to be versatile. As the generations continue to evolve, so will the trends for office design. Opting for furniture rental is a practical way for employers to change with the times as needed without investing large amounts of capital in a particular look. As trends change, employers simply swap out their current choices for the next great thing. CORT Furniture Rental offers modern workplace solutions to suit every need.