Workplace Priorities: Experience Matters
Our clients often ask us about the “workplace of the future,” but what does it mean? We use it to reference forward-thinking design solutions that address the wants and needs of tomorrow’s emerging workforce. Existing market research around future workplaces factors often reinforces stereotypes about the generation gap and Millennials in the workplace. But those assumptions can lead to ineffective, and potentially dangerous, outcomes. We are a data-driven, evidence based design firm, and we use data to inform our design solution—not stereotypes.
What if we looked at the workforce in terms of years of experience instead of generational labels?
We surveyed a cross-section of 500 professionals between the ages of 20 and 40 years who work across the nation. Here is what we learned about the similarities and differences across the ages.
In our talent-driven market, every employer wants to know what drives decision making. The top prospective employees often have multiple offers on the table simultaneously. How can employers tilt the balance in their favor? We asked our group of surveyed professionals for their influences when deciding if they should work for a company.
As respondents accrue professional experience, priorities shift from learning opportunities to opportunities for advancement, meaningful work to compensation. Of the 11 surveyed factors, five were not top-three influences for any experience group: benefits, charismatic leadership, company’s mission, community involvement, and relatable coworkers. For younger employees, image matters: The physical work environment ranks in the top three factors that influence younger employees.
There are ample studies connecting sustainability, wellbeing, and productivity in the workplace but there is often a gap between proof and perception. We asked which elements of sustainability are most essential to job satisfaction.
Daylight and outside views are the top-two ranked elements across all groups. From there, interesting trends emerge. Sit/stand desks are more essential to younger employees, while quality interior lighting rises in the ranks as experience levels, and age, increase. Surprisingly, although fitness centers and recreation facilities are an often requested amenity, active and passive recreation rank in the bottom two. Another surprising finding is the low ranking of biophilia/plants (third from last) despite evidence of its positive impact on cognitive function.
IT’S ALL IN A DAY’S WORK
Today, enterprises consider the individual experience more and more. How do employees want to feel after a day’s work? What cultural influencers do they want to see made tangible in their work environments?
Interestingly, although creativity is ranked as the Number One desired cultural influencer, creative is only seventh in the ways respondents want to feel after a day’s work. With a similar gap, innovation is in the top-third of most desired cultural influencer, while innovative is in the bottom quarter of how respondents want to feel after a day’s work.
DOING THE BEST WORK: WHERE AND WHY
Not only did we ask which spaces in the office are essential for job satisfaction, but also where each group finds they get their best work done. Responses revealed patterns around collaboration, working from home, and the progression from team-based working to solo focus as experience advances.
The desk remains the most popular place to get the best work done, retaining its reign as the essential daily touch point for employees. Individual workspace is also the most essential space for job satisfaction, but the importance placed on it wanes with experience. The nascent shift toward mobile patterns and new ways of working is reflected in half of respondents reporting they get their best work done away from their desk.
When they do their best work away from the office, different experience levels do so for different reasons. Less experienced employees avoid the office to minimize commute and for lifestyle benefits, while experienced employees avoid the office because they find it easier to focus with fewer distractions. This may be a reflection of less experienced employees’ desire for mentorship and the opportunity to learn, which shifts toward a more individual focus on advancement as experience progresses.