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Time was when you joined a company, worked hard and, if things went your way, you’d end up in a managerial position. But the company shaped you, rather than the other way round. Now it’s all changed.

Whether we like it or not, Millennials – those born between 1982 and 2004 – will form 75% of the workforce by 2025 according to Price Waterhouse-Coopers, so there’s little choice but to embrace the changing corporate landscape and work with it. Millennials want flexibility to work in different ways, the latest technological advances at their disposal, and their values honoured and respected. And the canny employer will provide these things.

Future-Proofing

It’s a case of investing in the future, and it’s the only way to go. If companies want to attract the movers and shakers of this world and harness their intelligence, creativity and entrepreneurial skills to take their business to the next level, they must provide the culture that’s expected. Millennials aren’t happy to be mere wage-slaves, they want to enter into a contract with a company that matches their attitudes towards social responsibility, environmental awareness, sustainability and giving back to the community. Therefore, these values need to be communicated, not least through the physical nature of the office environment.

The more we live on our own terms, whatever they might be, the more fulfilled we’ll feel. And a fulfilled employee will give back loyalty, hard work and commitment.

Technology Begets Flexibility

Millennials are digital natives, almost born with their fingers attached to keyboards, and every single facet of their lives is governed by their devices. Technology has such a profound effect on their daily existence from their sleep, their nutrition, their fitness, their work and their social interactions, and it’s only going to grow exponentially over the next few years, to heights we can’t even imagine right now. Today’s workforce will expect seamless connectivity across technology platforms. Getting it right is key. And this leads to new ways of working. Employers need to wake up to the fact that work can be done effectively from a wide range of different workspaces – the one-desk-per-employee approach no longer cuts it. It’s expected that some work will be completed remotely, but the employer who thinks outside the square and incorporates, say, a coffee shop into the office, will keep many more staff interested in working on-site. This can have a beneficial effect on all generations, who will be feeling the knock-on effect of greater independence to think, to rationalise and to collaborate in a more collegial and relaxed environment.

Wellbeing Counts

Do you take into account how your employees feel when they go to work? You should. For Millennials, wellbeing is vitally important, so consideration needs to be given to how to adapt the office to make it brighter, more inspiring, more attractive. Don’t overlook how much just a modest investment into good lighting, or sound-proofing can contribute to creating a fertile working environment. Employers can go as far as they like down the road of meeting employees’ needs, some even offer gyms, yoga or meditation studios on-site as an employee perk. It’s all about recognising it’s not so much work-life balance anymore – the buzz-phrase now is work-life integration. If people are happy in the work environment, the balance will create itself.

Millennials Don’t Have It All

Before we get carried away with thinking we have to completely kowtow to the whims of the upcoming generation, we need to restore some balance and consider what older generations can offer them. They remember a time before technology ruled supreme, when social interaction didn’t involve a screen or a keyboard. The shrewd employer looking to create a meaningful working environment could consider offering a screen-free space where people can enjoy old-school interaction and collaboration, and inter-generational conversation can take place, for mutual development and growth.

Everything is possible, so if you’d like to talk to me about your office environment and future-proofing enhancements you can make at any level, please get in touch with me: Clinton@ergostyle.co.nz  I’ll be delighted to hear from you.