One of the newest challenges that companies are now facing is a multigenerational workforce that contains four distinct generations, which all have different characteristics, workstyles and expectations of the workplace. Providing a workspace that supports the dynamics these generations are bringing is going to play a key role in the success of companies moving forward.
Traditionalists and boomers are currently reaching the stage of retirement, and as they leave they take with them years of industry knowledge and experience. These people tend to be situated in private offices due to their status within companies, which leads to the largest issue of an aging workforce; the dissemination of valuable employee knowledge learned through years of working in their field.
Studies show that learning is a social mechanism, and that the transferring of knowledge is best communicated through people. Millennials have a strong desire to learn, and the best way for them to do this is through listening to others; whether it be overhearing conversations of senior staff or actually having a mentor. Having senior staff in private offices means that they are closed off from the rest of the workplace, but this is what they prefer for a work environment. Generation X employees may not be so intimidated by these private offices, however new employees may be less likely to go ask questions. Since Generation X employees do not feel the desire to be mentors quite yet in their careers the Millennials are left feeling cut off from the rest of the workplace.
A harder working space that is designed considering all elements of workers needs and expectations is the solution. This can be done by having a combination of different spaces incorporated into your design plan, such as private offices, open workstations and group spaces. Considering the proximity of senior staff to those with varied levels of expertise and creating team environments is also an important consideration. Many companies are now realizing that new employees are seeking mentors, and are creating mentor stations where senior staff can go when they’re available to be approached.
A properly designed workplace will reflect the company’s brand and culture, utilize real estate to its maximum potential and will help to attract, engage and retain the right people. Flexible work environments that support the growth of technology and change, foster collaboration and support the different ways that people work and learn are the key components to creating a multigenerational workplace that works well together.