There are many things the group of Americans born between 1980 and the mid-2000’s are called (i.e. lazy, entitled, self-expressive, open-minded) but one thing is for sure, they are the largest generation in the U.S. and will be an important part of the economy for years to come. This group of Americans are known as “Millennials.” They are the first generation to have access to the internet during their most impressionable age which has made them (among other things) connected. Growing up during the time when technology made great advances, this generation had the upper hand in becoming innovative tech-savvy multitaskers who want to work for companies with the same characteristics. The salary they bring home is not as important to them as working towards something they believe in.
According to TIME Magazine, there is an estimated 53.5 million millennials in the work force and this is only expected to grow as millennials currently enrolled in college graduate and begin working. Being a company which provides technical professional services, it was imperative our new office design attract the millennial generation.
What do millennials want most out of their work environment? The ability for teaming and being collaborative. In this world of always on the go, mobility is key to make communication easier, so we installed wifi throughout the office and all employees were provided with a laptop. Open meeting spaces were included in the design to encourage collaboration and numerous “huddle” spots were incorporated to allow small teams to get together for impromptu meetings. All that was needed to create this impromptu space was a small table, access to a phone and a dry erase board.
Our mobility plan also provided a mobile flat screen which can be wheeled anywhere in the office and enables teams to duplicate their laptop screen onto the flat screen wherever their meeting is taking place. This is great for video conferencing and reviewing multiple documents all at once. The ease of mobility has been of huge importance for our managers who work remotely. With the use of video conferencing, collaboration has not suffered.
Did our new office design work to create a better culture and attract millennials? Over the last 18 months we have hired 102 new employees with nearly 50% being millennials.
“In all my previous positions I worked in the Government sector, so the progressive culture and fast pace (of BHC RHODES) is the major difference for me. The culture is very open and friendly allowing us to utilize each other’s strengths and work as a group to come up with the most efficient and productive approach.” -Jessica Dickson – BHC RHODES’ GIS Supervisor, millennial
In 2007 we designed our office space a lot differently than our current design. We let our employees (predominantly baby boomers and Generation X) decide how they wanted the work spaces designed. Traditionally, boomers had a need for things to be more hierarchical and formal. The outcome was 6’ tall cubes, which gave them the privacy they were wanting, but overall it turned out to have more cons than pros and working collaboratively was difficult, simply because you couldn’t see the person sitting next to you or behind you. In our current space, our major design points were lighting, mobility, and making the space collaborative which as we’ve learned, promotes better communication as well.
“People were hesitant when our open work space was first introduced but now, over a year later, we have not had any complaints from our employees which is our ultimate goal.” – Kevin Honomichl, President, baby boomer
When it comes to the differences of Baby Boomers (the largest generation until the Millennials) and Millennials, the range of differences and the “why” all come into play. For example, Millennials tend to have a higher level of trust for their boss, which could be one the reasons why they tend to react better to the “coaching” method from authority, but they are also less likely to trust individual people. Baby Boomers are the opposite in which, they are self-confident but not as confident with their boss. The exact reason for this can vary but it could be because the Millennial generation has grown up in the age of terrorism, the media labeling danger everywhere they turn, or due to the fact that this generation is known for their over-protective parents. Another example is Millennials view working for something they believe in as a huge reward, whereas, Baby Boomers want the title and the corner office.
We asked a Gen X employee (born in the early 1960s to the early 1980s) what he believes the biggest strength of a millennial is in the work place.
“I would say the biggest strength of the Millennial generation would be their ability to multitask. They are excellent at juggling responsibilities. That is critical for our work in the Development Group since we are managing many projects at one time.” -Mark Johnson, Development Services Group Leader, gen X
Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. and an important part of the economy, are the current and future work force, which is why we created our space for this collaborative, flexible, and technology-driven generation.