Attracting Generation Z with workplace design
Generation Z (born 1997 — 2012) are steadily entering the workforce, impacting the future of work, working practices and workplace design. For the first time the workforce comprises four generations. The oldest, ‘Baby Boomers’ are nearing or delaying retirement. Mid-life Generation X and grown-up Millennials are now joined by the ‘digital native’ youth.
Generation Z versus Millennials
Office design is adjusting to accommodate the very different expectations and requirements of today’s diverse workers. Even previously traditional industries are moving towards ‘Agile’ workplaces to increase creativity and productivity as well as attracting and retaining the best talent.
However, informal collaborative space, popular with Millennials, has been viewed as insufficient to accommodate the distinct differences of the younger generation. Research by Knoll predicted that greater flexibility will be required. A variety of social and private spaces, meeting booths and single ‘pods’, provide employees with options for working together or find focus space.
Flexible office design
Preferring order and structure, Gen Z office design will benefit from a balance of “Refuge” and “Enclave” spaces. Refuge spaces such as privacy booths or low panels on workstations, reduce distraction and encourage focus. Enclave spaces such as ‘railway carriages’ and meeting booths support blended face to face and online meetings.
Providing options in a workspace allows teams to select the environment in which they are most comfortable. This makes them more productive as they can find a space most suited to the task or activity required of them.
Mental Health in the workplace
Reducing the stigma around mental health, Gen Z are more likely than older generations to welcome an open discussion.
77% of respondents to a survey by Milkround believe that employees should be more comfortable taking a mental health sick day. This again rises to 92% across Gen Z and 85% of Millennials.
But employers can also take steps to improve the conditions within the workplace to alleviate stress. Providing tech free ‘quiet room’, an outdoor area or adding planting and acoustic solutions and access to natural light all help create a calmer working environment.
Understanding their motivations is key to attracting generation z employees to the workplace. Many young people and new recruits entered the job market during a period of lockdown. They had little face to face interaction with their employer and colleagues. The mentoring and training that would normally be part of a new role were often absent or limited.
Returning to the workplace, Gen Z will benefit from additional learning and development opportunities. This will also help gen z employees to feel more valued and valuable to the organisation.
Home or Away
Although preferring flexible working conditions, Gen Z acknowledged the difficulty of forming relationships when working remotely. With less opportunity to interact with more senior members of the team younger workers may also miss out on opportunities to progress their career.
Maximising opportunities for junior and senior staff to mix and encouraging collaboration is key for employers. Traditional style banks of desks inhibit social interaction so replacing this with more flexible, informal space is beneficial.
‘Zoom rooms’ also help facilitate blended meetings to help those joining remotely feel included in the discussion.
UNiDAYS conducted a survey of 16,747 college-aged Gen Zers from the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand to understand their outlook. 77% of Gen Z would prefer to work for a company that doesn’t just offer a good salary, but also shares their political views. More than previous generations, they want to work for companies that align with their values and make a difference in areas they care about.
For businesses competing to attract gen z talent, demonstrating environmentally conscious credentials is becoming increasingly important. A circular economy approach to office fit-out is advisable to prevent ‘greenwashing’. Unwanted office furniture can be donated or recycled and IT can be reclaimed and repurposed.
Check out Bureaumove for more information on ethical office moves and clearance.
Community minded Gen Z at work will also support programmes that benefit the wider community. This could include adding the work of local artists to the workplace or providing free event/meeting space for local groups or charities.
If you’d like some additional information on how to attracting generation Z employees to your workspace, email email@example.com.