For several years Johnson Controls has been sponsoring a survey of younger generations to answer this very question. Their most recent research shows that 18-25 year olds view the office as an extension of their home life.
The following concepts ranked the highest on Gen Y’s list of workplace wants:
- Sustainability -- 96% of respondents want an environmentally-aware workplace;
- Mobility -- 76% prefer to be mobile rather than static workers;
- Flexibility -- 56% x percent want to choose when to work;
- Collaboration - 41% prefer access to team space over conventional meeting rooms.
Other key findings include:
- Opportunity -- Generation Y prioritizes which job to apply for based on opportunities to learn, work colleagues, corporate culture and values; and
- City Life -- Generation Y prefers workplaces in urbanized locations with access to social and commercial facilities, good public infrastructure and the ability to use public transport, walk or drive to work.
This is great information, but there isn't anything new or surprising here.
Numerous surveys have been done on this topic and they all come to the same conclusion: For Generation Y, work is not about going to a place to do a job. Work is about doing something that makes a difference in a way that is meaningful and worthwhile both personally and professionally.
Generation Y has redefined the concept of work. And organizations like Johnson Controls continue to research this demographic and provide valuable insight to what Ys want partly to satisfy curiosity, but mostly because no one seems to be paying attention!
How many workplaces do you know of that satisfy the list of Gen Ys wants and excel at providing a workplace that is environmentally-friendly, mobile, flexible, collaborative, and learning-focused?
For the past several years, awareness has been growing, but most organizations aren’t focusing on the next generation of talent either because they don’t feel the situation is urgent enough or because they are too lazy or too afraid to make any changes.
Results from surveys like this one remind employers that 20-somethings are making demands on employers and employers will have to respond to these changes to stay competitive and engage young talent.
In other words, for the first time ever the power is shifting from seasoned executives to young professionals—and that’s a reality that some executives simply refuse to accept.
Hence the on-going surveys and reports. Some are hoping for different results or at least a simpler solution.
But the Johnson Controls’ report reminds its audience of why understanding and responding to Generation Y is so important:
· Aging/Shrinking Workforce - We are on the brink of the largest turnover in human capital in history. As millions of Baby Boomers retire, there are millions fewer young people to replace them and talent will become a commodity; and
· Demographic Differences -- Generation Y is a technology savvy generation; the report calls them "furious digital innovators". Unlike the generations that have come before them, Ys have grown up with 3D gaming technology, the internet, and social networking. Their innovation and technology skills are crucial to keep our economies going.
So perhaps it’s time to pay attention to what the research is saying.
Generation Y wants a working environment they emotionally engage with; a space where they socialize with co-workers and which supports their health and well being.
This isn’t the end of the world, folks. It’s just a new approach to work—one that will probably be welcomed by workers of all ages.
Bottom line: Your company can’t afford to lose two-thirds of its workforce in the next five years. If you want to attract the up and coming workforce, you’re going to have to make some changes. And sooner is better than later.