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Workplace Design & Strategy: A Key Driver in Employee Recruitment & Retention


Workplace design is important to everyone--but especially for Millennials

It’s an undeniable fact amongst today's leading domestic and global companies: in order to achieve desired business results in the short and long term, companies must successfully recruit and retain millennials.

As of 2015, millennials make up the largest generation in the workforce and that number will continue to rise in the immediate years ahead. Millennials are no longer a sub-group of employees on the horizon, they are responsible for leading strategic corporate teams, they are redefining corporate goals and they are actively contributing unique, cutting edge business ideas for future growth and success.  

The stark reality for corporations and businesses of all sizes is that employee recruitment, compensation and training remain as an organization's largest expense. Successfully hiring and keeping strong employees is directly correlated to profit. It is estimated the cost of replacing an employee ranges from $15-20K on average.

Successfully attracting and retaining valuable employees is dependent upon many criteria, but leadership cannot afford to overlook the workplace as a variable in this equation. According to CoreNet Ohio Kentucky research and a 2015 report from 'The Millennial Impact', the overall office environment is a key consideration for millennials when they’re choosing an employer. Moreover, workplace culture, which is also a critically important characteristic for millennials in selecting a potential employer, can be directly impacted by the workplace design.

Leading research in Workplace Strategy & Millennials has identified four key ways the workplace influences millennial recruitment and improves retention of the existing workforce:

1. Workplaces Must Empower Collaboration and Innovation

The millennial generation essentially demands a corporate culture anchored in collaboration. Recent studies show 82 percent of millennials believe collaboration is the key to innovation and aspire to work in companies that conceptually agree with this premise. Consequently, organizations need to invest in technology and work spaces that encourage and cultivate collaboration while also enabling the type of work their people need to get done.

Ultimately, collaborative cultures can be strengthened through the strategic introduction of a variety of spaces. This variety in spaces is a huge departure from past approaches to workplace strategy whereby cubicles and hard walled offices was the definition of 'variety'.   This new approach to workplace includes team zones, huddle rooms, phone booths, relaxed social settings and even outdoor spaces. The added benefit of this varietal offering in spaces is that it results in creating workplace well-being which is linked to a happy and productive workforce. Creating these spaces and then infusing them with the necessary digital and mobile technology that allow employees to be productive and connected with the world is critical to shaping a collaborative culture.

Employees at Zurich test workplace environments as part of the company's workplace pilot efforts.

Employees at Zurich test workplace environments as part of the company’s workplace pilot efforts.

2. Workplaces Must Be Flexible

The Millennial generation expects a freedom of choice in the workplace and in executing their job duties. Today's accessibility to laptops, smartphones and tablets means that employees are no longer tethered to their desks as they were a decade ago. As a result, employers need to offer flexible workspaces that allow people to move, change positions and work in different areas throughout the day. Organizations at the forefront of responding to this demand are introducing “hubs” of flexible space that can offer up to 10 different types of work settings. These hubs then allow employees to sit, stand, lean, gain privacy and move around throughout the day as they feel necessary.

CoreNet Global corporate member Zurich North America recently executed a workplace pilot that allowed employees to test out a variety of flexible workspaces to help define the company’s new workplace strategy in their headquarters in 2016. While there were mild differences in the preferred flexible areas, overall satisfaction with the ability to use different spaces over the course of a work day increased by 64 percent.

graphicWorkplace flexibility is a key way to recruit and retain generation X and Y talent. Studies have found that flexibility in the workplace or lack of it can sway the decision to stay or leave a company. As the baby boomer generation continues to leave the workforce this is going to be an even more important trend. Millennials consistently want to have freedom to make decisions about when and where they work to be most productive.

3. Workplaces Should Support Your Mission

The millennial generation as a whole tend to believe that companies should do more than just generate profit---they should also change the world in substantive ways. The 2014 Millennial Impact survey indicates that 97% of millennials want to use their skills to help an overriding cause. This means organizations must do more than simply draft new values and mission statements, they should also consider aligning their workspace around their corporate mission.

If a company says it is committed to being a steward for the environment, then millennial employees will wholly expect that workspaces reflect this initiative with numerous features rooted in sustainability, and with a focus on energy conservation. If improving health around the world is a company’s focus, then workspace and culture should be inclusive of natural light, encourage physical movement throughout the workday, offer healthy food and encourage employees to live healthier lives. This is directly correlated to the Well Building Standards and Wellness in the Workplace which is emerging as a global trend amongst leading companies and their workplace strategy.  


4. Not sure where to start? Listen to ALL employees and especially the critically important generation of talent: Millennials

The millennial generation has adopted the attitude that they can and will drive change, and they are typically enthusiastic in volunteering to share their ideas and serve as catalysts for change as organizations strive to evolve & improve their corporate culture. Organizations that are uncertain about how to reshape their work environment can consider strategic workplace pilots. Testing environments that serve as key research tools in the creation of new work areas, internal focus groups and employee brainstorm sessions will ensure that employees are VESTED in the new workplace design. Moreover, these testing environments can save time and money for companies and prevent them from launching a workplace strategy that will be ill received by employees.   Mercy Health Systems in Cincinnati, Ohio, recently utilized workplace pilots prior to implementing an 'open' office design on their new campus.  During a recent CoreNet Ohio Kentucky event, Mercy's Director of Real Estate asserted that employee engagement via testing environments resulted in a high level of employee satisfaction with their revamped office design.  Employees felt as though they were part of the change and have embraced it wholeheartedly.

Moving forward, while workspaces must meet the needs of ALL employees, the millennial generation will continue to be the largest population in the workforce for the next decade, and thus the critical emphasis placed upon garnering their input and endorsement by companies seeking to fill their current and future pipeline of talent. Failing to align corporate offices with the needs of employees could potentially have significant negative effects on company revenue and profit over time. There are numerous steps organizations can take to make their workplace an asset in recruitment and retention and the time to start is now.

Don't miss the CoreNet Ohio Kentucky event on August 25th at the Jones Day Law Offices in Columbus, Ohio whereby industry thought leaders from CBRE Group, Nationwide and CoreNet Global will discuss Workplace Strategy and its correlation to Millennials!

#coworking #futureworkplace #AlternativeWorkplaceStrategies #Talent