Naturally, companies want to attract the most talented professionals to their workplaces. Given the tough economic environment, the majority of businesses are running lean – needing to employ the very best workers given that they aren’t employing huge numbers. They need to recruit individuals who can do the job well, and who will also stay with the company through the years.
More than ever before, companies need people who can innovate, strategise and take them to a new level within their respective industries. In many instances, these workers are members of Generation Y (those born between 1979 and 1997).
New Jobs, New Skills
Many emerging ‘knowledge’ jobs require new skills which only the younger generation posses. This makes it even harder to find the right people, and puts Generation Y workers in great demand. In many cases, they can pick and choose where they want to work, and what they require from the position to make it worth their while. Critically, they aren’t only concerned about their remuneration – but the environment they work in.
According to Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, the workplace has a significant impact on the current talent challenges. “Top-performing companies — those with higher profits, better employee engagement and stronger market and brand position— have significantly higher-performing work environments than average companies,” it says.
As a result, attracting and retaining the best staff isn’t only about the money or having the best office, it is about designing an office in such a way that it encourages knowledge sharing and collaboration – activities that come naturally to Gen Y.
Behind the Times
However, despite what the new generation is requiring, there remains a big gap between what offices currently provide and what workers feel they need. This is perhaps because of the magnitude of the change in what attracts people to the office – so most companies are still playing catch up.
In the 1950/60s it was all about reaching the big private office. The coveted corner office represented the ultimate achievement, to match one’s smart plaid suit. By the 70s and 80s it was about having an iconic building and a cubicle for the successful worker.
Then the dotcom era revolutionised informal – this meant wearing jeans at work and having fun in the office. Now there were ‘chilled zones,’ gaming and even gyms. From the 1990s to present it is all about flexibility. Working anytime from anywhere as you wish, and customising your work zone to suit your needs.
Today, Generation Y are leading the current workplace trends, and amazingly enough, the rest of the workforce are adapting to the changes.
Collaboration is King
Today, team work dominates knowledge work because collaboration is the basis for getting to new ideas faster, innovating, and staying ahead of the competition.
As a result, the workplace is changing — or needs to —for an organisation to attract and retain talent, and particularly the young up and comers. Individual workspaces are shrinking and the freed-up space is being used for more shared spaces that people can adapt to the work at hand, whether it’s individual task work or collaborating with others – both in person or via technology.
The best workplaces easily adapt to these new ways of working. When workers can adapt their environment to their work, it saves money and time, and allows the organisation to use space more efficiently. Also, when the workplace better supports workers, business results improve and so do worker attraction, engagement, satisfaction and retention.
Planning and managing this new workplace begins with understanding the types of knowledge work and the different kinds of knowledge that result from them.
It also requires having a thorough understanding of what makes Gen Y workers tick, and ensuring that the workplace is an outlet – rather than an obstacle – for their success.