The multi-generational workforce and the need for unified workspaces.

December 17, 2018    Sarah-Jane Osborne     ,

Retirement is set to present one of the biggest challenges for businesses in decades. With Baby Boomers fast leaving their careers for retirement and the Millennial generation set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, businesses must make sense of what an increasingly transient and multi-generational workforce requires of space.

At the top of business leaders’ to do lists is the need to retain knowledge and skills and to cater for the needs of a very transient and tech-savvy generation. So how can how employers build unity and multi-generational collaboration into their workplaces when change is the new constant in business?

Employee engagement is a pivotal part of the solution. All generations add value to the workplace – for all the digital skills, energy and ideas that younger generations contribute, the older generation often has industry expertise, context, leadership and insights in abundance. With gig-workers joining the mix too, finding ways to blend and unite these employees is a business necessity in order to drive productivity and transfer knowledge.

Improving engagement requires a holistic look at all the workplace issues that involve your people – from training and development to working practices and processes through to organisational culture and the suitability of the environment that employees occupy. While the workplace was once a place to ‘house’ employees, business leaders now recognise it is something far greater. The office provides an opportunity to bring a brand to life and promote shared values, to share knowledge and innovate and to actively encourage employees to be committed and productive in equal measure. As a result, collaborative, flexible and mobile-friendly workspaces are becoming even more important to modern employers.

The workplace is a powerful business tool and the growing focus on creating collaborative spaces is a direct response to the growing need to harness the productivity, skills and enthusiasm of all employees whatever their age or employment status. Collaborative zones support knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer mentoring, as well as typical day-to-day teamwork and progress meetings. The introduction of non-allocated desking, activity-based work settings and creative training spaces support this idea further by encouraging movement, sociability and cultural cohesion. Large ‘village hall’ spaces cater for activities as diverse as company meetings, staff yoga and training days and the inclusion of quiet zones and pods ensures that the collaboration zeitgeist is not at the cost of concentration.

Organisations with a thriving multi-generational workforce have a thorough understanding of the talent challenges they face and have considered the link between their talent management programmes and workplace strategy. These organisations are nurturing the skills and wellbeing of their people, investing in supportive cultures and intuitive environments and are recognising the value of skills and expertise before age. Their work environments are technology-rich and mobile, social and collaborative, inspiring and engaging, full of choice and brand-centric – much like some of the world’s most talked about brands (think Google, Facebook and Airbnb). Although not every business will have the means or inclination to create spaces as striking or costly as these, they highlight the need to think beyond the typical notion of ‘the office’ in order to win the war for talent.

The gradual exit of Baby Boomers and the swell of Millennials is creating one of the greatest workforce transitions of the last century. It is commercially imperative to ready your business in terms of culture, process and environment in order to derive value and productivity from your people and your space. It’s time to ask your management team if they are ready – does your workplace stand apart from the competition in a digital and multi-generational age?

To discover how to make your workplace support the multi-generational workforce and compete in a competitive talent market, download our whitepaper “The war for talent: Have organisations already lost?”

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