Chris Moriarty: Workplaces that focus on functionality and practicality are the real fit for millennials

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Year on year, an increasing number of young individuals are choosing to avoid the university route of further education, and instead opt for a straight-into-work pathway. 2017 saw the lowest level of millennials choosing to attend university for eight years, with almost one in seven stating they were looking at alternative ways into work (Sutton Trust poll). Just to be clear, ‘millennial’, a term many love to hate; refers generally to anyone born between 1980 and the mid 1990s, although some stretch that out to the early noughties. A broad group that has witnessed some seismic shifts in the world.

Because of that, perhaps, millennials are often listed as ‘disrupters’ in the workplace, and naturally assume more junior roles within organisations. At Leesman, the world’s leading assessor of workplace effectiveness, we’ve found that ‘millennial’ are actually the easiest to support in the workplace. This could be for a number of reasons, namely: they usually have the least experience to base their expectations off, and fill roles with less responsibility and consequently require less resources. By no means however, does this belittle their worth and value to a company. The under 30s age group currently makes up over 50 per cent of the world’s population, and they are bringing the change with them. The future of work is looking bright, and it’s crucial that employers move with employees and reflect their needs, regardless of their position in the company, or age.

You wouldn’t be wrong to presume that millennials and younger generations (generally) do look for, and are drawn to, trendy, creative and innovative workspaces. With the likes of Google and its indoor slides, or Adobe and its rooftop race track; undoubtedly, ‘trendy’ workplaces are all the rage. However, it is all well and good developing a workspace that looks good, and is an asset to the company; but if it doesn’t actually work for your employees, what’s the point in having it? If your company is made up of more staff members over the ‘millennial’ range than under it, why create a space that tailors more for that group?

There are countless examples of stunning, leading innovators in workplace pulling out all the stops for their employees, however it’s the functionality and practicality that are the most crucial elements of success for a business. If the space you’re in doesn’t support and enhance your productivity, wellbeing and job-purpose, how can it truly be a success? Our data also found that almost half (46 per cent) of all UK offices do not actually support office workers’ productivity. So, one must ask, if millennial workers are coming into businesses and are expected to bring fresh, creative and inventive ideas to the company; how can they, if their space doesn’t support them to do so?

Put simply, employers must continue to move with the times and the requirements of their workforce. Flexible and activity-based working, wellbeing-focused offices and other innovative new ways of working are becoming increasingly popular all over the world, and so, employers must match the expectations of their employees. That being said, millennials do only represent 25 to 30 per cent of the working population in most organisations at present, so designing purely for them potentially puts other groups at risk. The fundamental point to consider, is how to keep all demographics and working styles supported. The key is ultimately to provide variety. If your workplace has a range of working environments, to support a whole host of tasks, then you have the best chance of your workforce being able to work effectively.

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About Chris Moriarty

Chris Moriarty is Managing Director UK & Ireland at Leesman, the world’s largest independent measurer of workplace effectiveness. He is passionate about workplace and therefore very excited about the opportunity to help organisations understand the link between people and place with the Leesman survey

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