Jim Morrison, lead vocalist of The Doors, once said, “Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors.”
While it is unlikely that the younger generations, especially those entering the workforce over the next few years, know who Jim Morrison is, they certainly would agree with the sagacious Morrison’s words. Understanding the millennial generation, and generations that will follow, is vital to maintaining the success of an organization, building, or property, and to prepare it for future success. While previous generations were content with a single employer for their entire career, the next generation is much less likely to find this appealing. Today’s generation is more professionally transient than their predecessors. There are several factors that go into the equation when evaluating where to work, and the next generation of talent’s priorities differ from in ways that may be surprising.
For some – it’s salary. For others, it’s career advancement. Work-life balance, corporate culture, amenities and remote hours are also attractive. Each member of the next generation workforce is seeking something different, and they are willing to explore more opportunities in order to find out whatever their personal ‘it’ factor may be. So, in order to understand the next generation of talent from their perspective, let’s break down some of the factors that influence their decisions.
Experience is everything when it comes to recruiting talent says Natalie Tyler-Martin, MBA, RPA, vice president of leasing and development with Duke Realty.
“Pay is important, but balance is more important,” Tyler-Martin said. “You can pay me in my free time or pay me in my options to find balance in life. Options to be flexible and mobile so that I can work from anywhere are so important. So, for example, if I need to pick up a child from school, I can – that’s invaluable,” Tyler-Martin added.
Gone are the days of the traditional workplace, where a steady paycheck and eight-hour workday defined your career. The ability to balance work and life outside of work is a key driver in not only the recruitment of the next generation’s talent pool, but in the global economy as a whole. The broad changes disrupting the traditional workplace will also have direct impact on retention, and employers are becoming more vigilant in keeping their current workforce happy and engaged.
“[Retention] is often more about intangible benefits. Things such as half day Fridays during summer or increased benefits such as wellness programs,” said Kinsey Hinkson RPA, BOMI-HP, senior portfolio manager with OA Management.
“Building owners understand that all businesses need to provide a flexible, rewarding environment so that they can attract top talent,” said Marie Kastens, CCIM, RPA, managing director with CBRE Atlanta.
“As a result, to be competitive, buildings are investing in amenities and designs that fill those needs for their tenants such as common networking areas and any services employees might need during the day to minimize errands needed during their personal time off,” continued Kastens.
If a worker can take care of errands during the day, that maximizes their time after they leave the office. This disruption to the workplace reinforces the importance of work-life balance by providing flexibility to employees to use their free time as they see fit. Some properties have added amenities such as dry cleaning, car washing, concierge services and much more. Other examples of the changing workplace include innovative designs such as open-air spaces, shared spaces and comfortable work areas. Each of these examples can go a long way in making employees feel at home in the office.
“Work experience and amenities are crucial for attracting top talent,” Tyler-Martin added. “It goes back to finding the balance and intersection of personal and professional life.”
“Younger recruits have empowered all ages to ask for what they have wanted for many years. For example, flexible work schedules and locations, opportunities for training, mentoring, and networking so that their career is also personally rewarding,” said Kastens.
Professional development opportunities – such as continuing education, additional training, making industry connections and learning and developing new skills – are important to attracting and retaining the top talent.
“Continued education, opportunities to give back to the community while at work, a career path with options for unusual or creative projects are all key drivers in employee retention,” Kastens explained.
Another characteristic can often be the desire to find ways of making a larger impact within their ecosystem.
“What [millennials] are looking for today are lifestyles, culture, and the opportunity to make a difference,” Hinkson said. “This generation is looking to do something larger. They are much more holistic. It’s not always about the money. It’s about community. What kind of community is created here? What is the feeling in the office?”
“Past generations never challenged what they wanted,” says Tyler-Martin. “Finally, a generation came along and said, ‘no, that is not what makes me happy, so I will go somewhere else.’”
This change in mindset has impacted all levels of the industry, from upper management to entry-level roles.
“As a result, the industry had to change and say, ‘It’s not about us, it’s about them.’ When you do that, you get more out of your employees,” she added.
Many of these factors may seem intangible, but they can make a world of difference to the future workforce, and we would be wise to consider their desires.
Jim Morrison may not have been referring directly to recruiting millennials into the workforce when he was making his memorable remarks, but it’s fair to say that he was correct in his sentiment. The spirit of the next generation always seeks to chart a different course for themselves, and in the CRE industry it is no different. Buildings, companies, employers, and all those seeking to recruit the next generation of talent should keep Morrison’s words in mind. Companies that prioritize, anticipate, and accommodate the values of the next wave of talent will be poised for success.
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