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Office Design: 7 Killer Ways to Retain Employees

— August 26, 2019

Times change and so do people. Today’s workforce has different values than many employers are used to, but employee retention need not be a challenge.

Slowly but surely, the work environment is being taken over by the millennial generation from the baby boomers. This has multiple implications where the workforce market has to drastically change to meet the needs of their new clients (the workers in this case). There are expectations that the new workforce has and it falls down to the employers to manage the work environment in order to meet those. As we are about to cover, these expectations can appear to be more unique than that of any generation that came before. The differences can be quite noticeable. The boomers were much more likely to stay put in a company for a long period of time while millennials are much more prone to switching jobs. They are aware of the workplace market and are always open for a new opportunity if it is a better one. It is up to the employer to find new ways to connect with this new workforce as high turnover rates for employees are not favourable. Here are some practical steps to take towards employee retention designed for the new generations.

  1. Analysing the current situation

To get where we want to be, we first need to figure out where we are. With patience, it is possible to do an analysis of retention and turnover in a company. Only then can a plan be put into action. The first step to take is to look at employee retention and turnover rates. Every company has this data available for such reference. And if not, it can be extrapolated quickly. Depending on the business in question, typically all we need is a five-year period to get the whole picture. If the nature of the business demands a longer period, that is fine and would take more time. The next factor we can incorporate into our equation is the current method and policies for employee retention. Are these getting us the results that we need? If not, it is time to change or modify our methods. To know in which direction to go, it can be as simple as asking our employees a set of questions to get to the heart of the problem. Employee feedback is one of the most overlooked and most valuable resources a company can have. It is easy for human resource professionals to fall into the trap of thinking that they have all the answers by themselves. In truth, there is no one more knowledgeable about what an employee needs and wants but the employees themselves. Future successful results rely completely on honest answers collected at the source.

  1. Updated interior design

    Bat Haus Coworking and Event Space, United States; image by Sridhar Gupta, via
    Bat Haus Coworking and Event Space, United States; image by Sridhar Gupta, via

The dark, high-walled cubicles like we see in movies are a thing of the past. New generations of workers are heavily attracted and influenced by modern workspace design. Thankfully for us, there are plenty of choices to choose from today that leverage aesthetics and practicality. Not every company needs to make a complete one-eighty in terms of interior design. It is a good thing to know as such projects can be quite costly. The biggest results come from the smallest of changes. Some of these include but are not limited to group work stations, open-space concepts and sit-stand or even walking desks. Modularity is another very powerful concept to embrace. In short, it is much more feasible to have modular rooms that can serve multiple purposes. Noise-cancelling and privacy panels are a thing nowadays. These provide a great degree of flexibility as new rooms custom fit for any situation can be deployed in a matter of minutes by anyone. You might have noticed a trend starting to take place. That new trend is the activity-based workspace design. Such a concept puts an emphasis on activity and physical movement which we are going to cover next.

  1. Encouraging physical movement

Newer generations are increasingly health-conscious and pay attention to the effect fitness and movement have on one’s general wellbeing. It is no secret that prolonged periods of time spent sitting down are very bad, especially in today’s mostly sedentary work habits. In the long run, it can cause heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity. As we have covered, there are plenty of products and methods that an employer can introduce into a work environment such as standing desks, company gyms and fitness centres, etc. But one of the first and least expensive ones that have to come to mind is the culture that needs to be cultivated. We need to encourage regular, short and active breaks every hour or so. A little change like that can go a long way and it does not cost anything, on the contrary. Employees will be more productive and satisfied with their position, not to mention a lot healthier and fit. Active group breaks have many other benefits like promoting employee socialisation which can result in new ideas and better work cohesion in the future. Dedicated recreation rooms with darts, ping pong or pool tables go a long way. By inspiring physical movement, we are promoting all traits we would want to see in our employees such as inspiration, energy and socialisation.

  1. Compensation

The main topic of any employment is the amount and types of compensation it is offered. We are all operating in a highly atomized, competitive global market. We expect products and services to be competitive in terms of value to cost ratio and vacant job openings are no different. New generations of workers are now, more than ever, aware of their worth and what they ought to receive for compensation depending on their industry and position. It is far from being the only measuring tool, but in terms of priority, it is up there on the top. Top and hard to replace talent is especially volatile. Compensation is disproportionate to our ability to replace an employee at any given moment. Compensation comes in many different forms, not solely in the form of a monthly salary. With older generations, all that mattered was the paycheck at the end of the month and a basic healthcare contract. Today, retirement plans, vacation days, health and dental care, and now more important than ever, the ability to refine and perfect one’s knowledge and qualifications, all factor in. New generations are putting increasing value on multiple forms of compensation other than just the paycheck itself.

  1. Meaning and purpose

New generations are also increasingly aware of the impact one can make on the world. They want and truly need to feel like a part of something greater than themselves. Employers can do much to achieve a sense of purpose in the workplace. Employees need to have a job that they care about and introduces positive value to the world. Some industries might have a harder time to achieve this than others, but there are ways around it. Industries such as construction, nature preservation and such have obvious impacts on the world. For others, charity is a great way to achieve multiple goals. Charity is an obvious way to go above and beyond what is absolutely necessary. Not only that but in some countries charity makes a business eligible for tax reduction and can provide very positive exposure to the public. An employee who knows what a positive impact his or her work has on the world is a strong asset to any company.

  1. Stocked pantry

Employees are spending an increasing amount of time in the workplace. Projects and meetings can get quite long and one might find themselves at their job for much longer than a regular nine to five. It is the nature of today’s harsh and turbulent working environment. Employers can do a lot to mitigate these effects by incorporating many homely assets into the workplace. We have already covered recreation areas such as gyms and fitness centres, but let’s say that we do not have the space or the financing for such projects. There are smaller but equally important things we can do to enable our employees to feel and act as if they were at home. A stocked kitchen with all the appliances for serving and preserving food is the first that comes to mind. As we have previously encouraged breaks, the most common ones are lunch and coffee breaks. Having a fridge, a microwave or a full oven in the kitchen along with a coffee apparatus such as one from Lavazza Office Coffee, for example, can go a long way. If we can substitute as many activities that are usually done outside of a work environment by doing it inside, employees will be more inclined to positively spend extra time at work. Food is an obvious recuperating method but coffee is having more of an impact on the working environment now more than ever. Newer generations are increasingly relying on coffee in all of its various forms, shapes and sizes. Coffee with all of its variants has more choice than ever before to suit everyone’s needs. It is a part of a global culture and a conversation starter. It is a small addition to any successful business environment but it is one that is universal and connects people.

  1. Respect and appreciation

Employees respond to criticism very well. This goes for positive and negative alike. Employers are quick to neglect the positive side of criticism, the one that rewards and pushes people in the right direction. Without positive reinforcement, we are missing half of a seesaw, it does not make sense. Employees want to be respected, appreciated and be a part of a collective of equals. Often enough, things need to be said at a work environment, things that some might not find pleasant. As long as it is done in a respectful manner, people will readily go over the things that are said and will consider the way in which it was said. Cultivating a culture of respect across all planes of management, vertical and horizontal, will facilitate the creation of positive experiences and memories that will last lifetimes.

Employee retention and turnover can be managed efficiently and these key points are a good start. This sharp change in workforce behaviour should not come as a concern to any employer as the new generations are not overly-demanding. As long as everyone’s basic needs are satisfied, employees will have no reason to search for a better deal elsewhere.

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