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How to Make Your Workplace Millennial-Friendly

By Laura Gayle
November 2, 2019

What do we know about millennial workers? We know they’re numerous: In 2016, the number of millennials surpassed the numbers of Gen Xers, becoming the largest population in our workforce, according to Pew Research. We know they’re socially conscious, tech-savvy, and innovative. We know they value work-life balance above nearly all else, and are not shy about switching jobs if they’re dissatisfied.

The private sector has generally done a good job of catering to these employees, but that doesn’t mean public administrators can’t recruit and retain this generation. Recent surveys suggest that millennials are as motivated by purpose as profit, and they may be more open to staying in current jobs longer than five years if the workplace is somewhere they like to be.

There are many ways to make a workplace more attractive to millennials.

Flexibility is a Major Draw

In another survey, 77% of millennials said that flexible hours in the workplace actually made them more productive. Some millennials like to set their own hours due to personal preference or family obligations. Others need to telecommute one or more days a week. Recruiters can also attract more millennials with flexible hours, a pet-friendly work environment, ample sick leave and a more casual dress code.

Companies can combine flexibility with brand efficacy by thinking about how they communicate with both employees and customers. Millennials tend to prefer digital communication over meetings, and visual messages over phone calls. Tools like Slack mimic instant messaging in a business context. Millennials tend to want cloud-based software that they can access from anywhere. Similarly, modern brand communication should include social media messaging and videos, which millennial employees are likely to have a leg up producing.

Short Commutes Rock

Many millennials prefer to buy or rent attached housing within walking distance of entertainment, restaurants and work. Public employers can partner with cities and developers to create programs that help new employees find a place to buy or rent – particularly in expensive cities like Washington, D.C.

In lieu of that, millennials are the age group that takes the bus or train most often. They love a short commute, especially if they’re into biking or walking to work. According to the National Community and Transportation Preference Survey, 18- to 34-year-olds would rather walk than drive by a wide margin. Providing bike racks or storage areas for biking commuters is also a thoughtful and much-needed amenity.

Dark Cubicles Kill Motivation

A huge, dark room of walled-off cubicles does not enhance creativity and innovation. If you want an instant boost in productivity, consider tearing down the cubicle walls and modifying your office with a more open and collaborative space.

Modernize your office floor plan to let in sunshine and add amenities. For example, a recent Capital One survey of millennials found that 62% of workers wanted more natural light in their workplaces, and 44 percent wished there were more artwork and creative design elements. Team spaces should be colorful and modern. Informal meeting areas with a variety of seating options can encourage relaxed, collaborative conversations. Shared workspaces for employees who partially telecommute can save square footage.

The open-work model itself inspires courtesy and camaraderie, since people work in closer confines without so many walls. Adding micro-environments strikes a balance for when work requires quiet concentration or collaborative teamwork.

Offer Development and Training

Millennials care about personal growth and professional development. There are several programs that you can offer to benefit both employees and the company. Mentoring programs take many shapes and forms, but they all encourage bonds between managers at different levels and help identify employees looking for guidance and opportunities to move up the corporate ladder. To operate a successful mentoring program, a company should ensure that senior executives are on board to fully support and participate in the program.

Besides mentoring, classes that encourage personal or career development are a major draw for millennials interested in pursuing professional certifications or advanced degrees. The option to change roles or move up through on-the-job training or outside educational opportunities. These programs are more successful if outside programs are subsidized or sponsored by tuition reimbursement programs.

Perks Help at Work

Concern for employee well-being can take many forms, some of them quite inexpensive. Employers can offer free coffee and drinks in break rooms, or put out healthy snacks like fruit and nuts to power employees through afternoon doldrums. A game room can offer employees a much-needed break to clear their heads and recharge during stressful projects.

For those employers considering serious health and well-being measures, on-site fitness centers as well as yoga and meditation classes can help to subvert stress and prevent repetitive-motion injuries or stress-related conditions.

What Millenials Say Is Missing

In order to attract and keep millennials in the workplace, public sector employers can focus on a few key ideas important to this generation. Flexibility, proximity, healthy design/practices and training/development are great places to start for employers hoping to acquire and keep millennial employees.

Author: Laura Gayle is a full-time blogger who is passionate about e-commerce and the ways technology is helping to rejuvenate the American dream. She’s written about everything from crowdfunding and inventory management to product launches, cybersecurity trends, web analytics, and innovations in digital marketing. She created her blog to be a trusted resource for women trying to start or grow businesses. 

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