Three years from now, Gen Z (those aged 18-34) will account for one third of the population and over a quarter (27%) of the entire workforce.
And while businesses continue to adapt policies and benefits to attract and retain top Gen Z talent, the physical workspace itself is often an overlooked asset.
It is easy to assume that the incoming, tech savvy, generation are happier working from home, however recent research from IBT found that 81% of Gen Z are feeling disconnected from their peers and only 11% are currently happy with their office spaces.
We know that connection and collaboration are vital to employee wellbeing, performance, and productivity, so what can leaders do with their office space to entice Gen Z talent?
From the article:
Switching up the office
In our view, the traditional office set up – exclusively filled with rows of sitting desks or partitioned booths – is a thing of the past. If your workspace hopes to support the needs and desires of the Gen Z workforce alongside hybrid working models, then your offices need to be flexible.
As we’ve seen, the impact that a physical office space has on those who spend time in it should not be underestimated. People still care about their workplace, however, there is certainly room for improvement, particularly when considering Gen Z. After being asked how they felt about their current office space just 11% of those aged 18-34 said they were happy with the office the way it is, representing the lowest levels of satisfaction when compared to other age groups. In actuality, among those aged over 45, satisfaction levels were double that of their younger counterparts, with 22% reporting they were happy with their workplace.
When asked what should be improved, one in five younger workers said the office should have more open, collaborative spaces, 19% said the office could have more room for social gatherings and 22% said their workplace could have more outside spaces. There is an unquestionably huge opportunity here for employers to rethink how their offices are designed if they are to boost not only levels of satisfaction, morale, and efficiency among their teams, but also enable talent attraction in an already difficult hiring landscape.
Other factors which are likely to encourage younger staff back into the office more regularly include access to training and development opportunities, which were cited as critical by 80% of this group of respondents. This is further evidenced by data from Roffey Park which found that a lack of job security is a top concern for Gen Z at the moment. The same percentage of our respondents said they would be happier to return to the workplace if they knew their team was going to be in the office, underlining the importance of face time for those in the earlier stages of their careers.
The destination workplace
The concept of an office as a ‘destination’ rather than simply somewhere that work gets done certainly predates Covid, with ping-pong tables and subsidised canteens featuring in offices long before the pandemic. However, at a time when the world of work has been disrupted so significantly, ensuring that office space is attractive, functional, and fun has never been more important. A destination workplace not only has the potential to make workforces more contented and productive: it can also act as a powerful recruitment tool. Our work with Deliveroo is a great example of this, taking cues from Deliveroo’s branding and company values, we created an office space with a fun but considered environment, featuring a central ‘rooball pitch’ (a Deliveroo-branded basketball pitch with a range of seating areas) where their workforce can not only have fun, but also hold team events and dynamic meetings.
Our research further reinforces the growing importance of ‘destination’ workplaces, revealing that younger workers are already more likely to choose employers which offer office spaces with enhanced amenities. In fact, 40% of those we surveyed reported that their workplace offered access to a fitness studio, 39% said their office has a games area, 48% have a wellbeing space and 42% said they had access to hospitality such as a free bar.
It can be easy to assume that Gen Z talent is content, or even excited, to live and work in an entirely virtual world. However, while younger workers generally have access to technology and the digital skills to work remotely long-term, our research strongly indicates that this group values the structure, socialisation, and support that a physical office provides more than their older counterparts. By 2025, Gen Z will comprise one-third of the population and 27% of the workforce. Those businesses that are able to make improvements to the workplace in response to their needs, will be the ones able to not only engage and retain their best people, but also attract new staff in our current talent-short economy.
(Lawrence Mohiuddine is the CEO, EMEA, of global workplace creation expert Unispace.)
Read the full article, here.
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