By James A. Schnur, CCIM
President and Managing Broker
Integrated Real Estate Solutions
Recruiting and retaining top talent within a company are key variables to continued, successful business growth, as well as fundamental principles of the human factor influencing corporate relocation. In 2019 − the year that Millennials are projected to dethrone Baby Boomers as the largest generation − the pool of top talent prospects is increasingly becoming the mystifying market of 23 to 38-year-olds. That word alone — “Millennials” — conjures innumerable jokes about ping pong tables and nap pods in the workplace to please the Millennial demographic. These asides have continued to hound this sector of the workforce to this day. However, by peeling back the layers of misinformation and half-truths, we can drill down to the true driving forces that keep Millennials productive, engaged, and loyal to one employer over another; providing a potent edge to the informed company willing to put these considerations into practice within their workplace.
Flexibility and Balance
One of the biggest determining factors for Millennials when considering employment options is work-life balance, particularly through flexible working conditions. Increasingly, employees are seeking opportunities that allow them to split their time between working in a physical office, and working remotely — according to Gallup research, 35–37% would change jobs based on their ability to choose to work off-site. Additionally, from the same research, 42% of employees say they would change jobs to have privacy when they need it, and “[e]mployees who have privacy when they need it are 1.7 times more likely to be engaged.” However, realistically, not all jobs can be completed outside of the office, so true remote opportunities can be limited. With this in mind, coupled with the continued trend of open-office concepts, employers should think critically about how best to maximize their space to make them inviting to employees in search of flexibility, and consider a hybrid approach to their office layout overall.
For instance, to borrow from the co-working spaces, consider implementing a daily reserve-able desk space, or a “hot seat” system, versus a permanent individual desk assignment. In tandem with a more flexible working schedule, this creates essentially a shift-system and allows the employees to choose their own seat for the hours they work within the office while providing important metrics on the actual space needs of the company, and whether overhead costs can be lowered through the elimination of unused desks. Furthermore, consider installing spaces for employees to find privacy in the office when they need it, either with conference spaces, phone rooms, shared seating areas, or privacy booths.
Mind, Body, Spirit
Digging deeper into the work-life balance concept, Millennials as a whole are a more mindful and health-conscious generation. In Deloitte’s latest Millennial Survey, they found that 39% of participants believe that businesses should try to be improving society overall, such as through the promotion of health and well-being. This is why the addition of on-site fitness centers becomes an immediate draw for the Millennial workforce. However, a simple workout space is only scratching the surface. Circling back around to the idea of flexibility, Millennials are more engaged when they’re able to maximize their time during the day as they choose, especially through social activities. The addition of health-minded fitness classes, such as spin classes or yoga, that an employee can participate in for an hour during the day with coworkers, is more likely to entice an employee to stick with a company over a room with equipment alone.
Millennials follow-through with health-consciousness throughout their days, as well. Less likely to own a car, the Millennial generation is more likely to commute to work, meaning accessibility to public transportation is a key concern, as well as the inclusion of an on-site bike storage room or garage. Somewhat counter-intuitively, Millennials are actually more likely to dine out when considering breakfast and lunch options, with a heavy emphasis on “fast casual” options. That said, the younger demo focuses more on locales with “healthy, fresh” options, and local establishments, so offices and sites in highly walkable areas with more food options are more likely to draw Millennial attention.
Millennial interest in mindfulness extends beyond the self, and increasingly takes the environment as a whole into consideration, as well. Because of this, Millennials place a greater interest in companies and employers more likely to take an interest in environmentally minded initiatives and programs. One major way for a company to take steps in a more ecologically oriented direction is by evaluating the energy efficiency of the buildings they occupy. Energy efficiency programs, such as certifications maintained through Energy STAR or LEED, can largely reduce the overall utility bill of a building, while carrying a significant amount of clout in their own right, leading to an overall higher ROI when considering a potential relocation. As such, not only are they a good incentive to bring in new talent, they are also a smart investment consideration to work into an overall business plan.
Green spaces within buildings also contribute to employee satisfaction. The inclusion of plants throughout the building helps to naturally reduce stress, and improve indoor air quality. If possible, the inclusion of more natural light through energy efficient windows is also preferred over the use of fluorescent lighting, leading to similar increases in employee satisfaction and retention.
The percentage of the workforce occupied by Millennials is only growing larger every day, and while much of the workspace influences they are after seem to apply only to traditional offices and urban areas, their reach is beginning to be felt in industrial and warehouse spaces as well, and it will only continue to grow.
The needs and wants of this growing demographic extend beyond pinball machines and foosball tables, and in general, are more achievable, more thoughtful, and more impactful to business culture than the jokes that precede them. As your company considers its next location option and explores all the possibilities on the horizon, consult with the professionals at Integrated Real Estate Solutions to ensure your workspace is optimized to attract the right talent to meet your needs.