Published On: Sat, Sep 16th, 2017

Want to Recruit and Retain Millennials? Upgrade Your Office Design ASAP

One of the things that millennials find so perplexing — and admittedly, amusing — is how hard employers are trying to figure out what makes them tick. Indeed, it’s almost as if millennials are strangers from another planet (Millenus? Millupiter?), with a profoundly different psychology and biology.


Well, at the risk of blowing the lid of one of our culture’s most enduring and entertaining urban legends, I’ll go ahead and reveal something that every red-blooded millennial knows with absolute certainty: they really aren’t that different. They just have certain orientations and preferences that are part of their experience and education. As such, employers who want to win them over need to think less about traditional incentives like parking spaces and an extra few days of vacation, and focus more on innovative strategies like inspired office design.

According to leading Chicago office design firm Key Interiors, here is what employers should focus on:

  • Open and Collaborative Spaces

Throughout the course of the education — and especially in college and university — millennials have been trained to ask questions and participate in group discussions. In fact, in some courses their willingness and ability to contribute to the larger group is the difference between passing and failing.

Naturally, millennials bring this orientation and mindset to the workforce, and employers that want to enable them to hit the ground running should create open and collaborative spaces. That means minimizing (or better yet, eliminating) traditional cubicles and walled offices, and replacing them with shared spaces where various teams co-locate to get work done and, on occasion, spontaneously interact and collaborate.

  • Integrate Technology into the Office Design

Employers that want to appeal to millennials should ensure that technology is seamlessly integrated across the office design. For example, there should be plenty of spaces suitable for working on laptops and tablets, along with ample access to charging stations for various mobile devices. And of course, high speed wi-fi is a must!

  • Promote Health and Wellness

The stereotype of millennials feeding the faces with junk food and mindlessly playing video games or binge-watching Netflix is untrue. Contrary to what many people believe, millennials are possibly the most health-conscious demographic group in history. After all, today’s fitness clubs aren’t full of boomers: they’re full of millennials doing everything from MMA to hot yoga.

Employers don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating an on-site gym. But they should nevertheless ensure that a commitment to employee health is demonstrated across the environment. This could include an investment in sit-to-stand desks that are great for circulation and posture, bright and cheerful lunchrooms that are stocked with healthy choices, optimized lighting that avoids eyestrain and glare, and so on.

The Bottom Line

Millennials are much more alike other demographic groups than they are different: they’re motivated to succeed, and want to be supported, respected and encouraged. In short: they’re human beings!

But with this being said, there are some things that are relatively more important to them — and these include collaboration, technology and staying healthy. Employers that wisely adopt and express all of these in their office design decisions give themselves a leg up on the competition when it comes to recruiting talented millennials on the roster, and keeping them around for the long-term.

Author: Chans Weber

photo/ Gerd Altmann

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