Since millennials make up 70% of the workforce today¹, it is more relevant than ever to understand the needs and values of this generation. This is especially crucial if you are an HR manager struggling with employee retention and keep millennials engaged.
Research has shown² that, millennials don’t feel satisfied with their office environment and blame their workplace for their lack of engagement. This research was able to show that nowadays, millennials are more concerned about how a workplace feels and looks than about traditional corporate branding. This is why, if you want to increase the engagement millennials in your organisation, you may need to be open to new, perhaps even quite untraditional solutions.
Looking at things through millennial eyes quickly reveals the importance of the office environment. Millennials are much more likely to come to the office because they want to, and much less because they need to. The workplace, the actual office environment is of great importance to millennials, but it is not because of the facilities in it, nor do they have a need to physically prove to their managers that they are working. See our article: How to meet the expectations of millennial employees to keep them engaged in the workplace?
Millennials are comfortable working from anywhere, anytime. They have the mentality to encourage them and the technology to support them. More and more, we are discovering that the only real reason millennials want go to the office is social interactions.
One of the most effective ways of increasing millennial engagement in the workplace is through interactions. Simply put, social interactions improve individual and collective wellbeing, which result in an increase of productivity and engagement.
Fostering interactions through space design.
Interactions cannot be created nor forced. Interactions are fostered when you create the contexts in which they can blossom. In other words, you can foster interactions by creating the contexts where interactions can emerge, and contexts can be physical, virtual or circumstantial (such as the context of a meeting for example).
As an HR professional, you are often busy with providing training to the employees, providing career and growth opportunities and finding ways to motivate them, all in an effort to retain them, and even attract them. So the first question to ask here is, can you conceive of such trainings and practices as opportunities to foster better social interactions among employees?
While trainings and growth opportunities methods are effective and fundamental, they do have a limitation: they have to be done at a ratio of 1:1, meaning every time a new employee joins, again and again for every employee.
If you consider the office space of your organisation as a context itself, then the question is how can your office space be conceived as a (physical) context that can foster better social interactions?
How can you transform this resource that is your office space into a vehicle for fostering interactions? And, not only is this resource one you have already, but it is also one you are already paying for. And considering that office space is the secondhighest expense of most organisations³, would it not be worth it to optimise the use of that resource? Furthermore, once you optimise your workplace design once, it will impact all employees, once and for all. It will do the job for you, even while you sleep.
Better teamwork and more innovation are two of many positive results that emerge from better interactions fostered in the workplace and this leads to a successful engagement of all employees in the workplace, including millennials. However, in order to achieve this successfully, you will first need to create a context that is inviting enough for them, a context that can truly foster better interactions.
Creating workplaces that foster interactions lead to increased productivity and wellbeing, which further leads to a decrease in your turnover costs, since losing employees and recruiting new ones is a considerable cost for companies. For more insights, check out our article: How an HR manager can reduce employee turnover. Your workplace is the most expensive, yet most underused resource in your organization, yet it can help you achieve many of your most pressing business goals.
Interactions are the key to improve employee retention in the workplace.
Transforming your workplace as a context to foster interactions is easier than you may think. First of all, let me clarify here that this does not necessarily require you to build a new headquarters or even move to another office space. This can easily be done in and with your current workplace. Even better, it can be done on high, medium, as well as a low budget and it can even be done without interrupting the work of any employees.
If you are curious how you can increase interactions in your specific workplace right now take the quiz ‘Employee Engagement Workplace Tips’ we developed here. Based on the specific situation of your company and employees we recommend the top three things you can do to increase interactions in your workplace right now and for free.
To find out how optimising your workplace can help you improve employees retention by fostering better social interactions, download here AKKA’s Case Studies for the Innovative Workplace to see how our team of designers and architects at AKKA Architects has boosted employee retention over and over again for small, medium and large organizations, in a variety of industries and countries from around the world.
2 The survey was conducted online by IPSOS in collaboration with National Business Furniture in 2017. Their findings suggest that office design and aesthetics are of great importance for young adults (aged 18-34). According to the survey, 76% agree that space design strongly influences their impression of a company. 70 % of the respondents feel that the office environment needs improvements in terms of design.
3 Avis, M. and Gibson, V. (1995) Real Estate Resource Management, GTI in association with Oxford Brookes University and the University of Reading, Wallingford.