Millennials in the workplace: What do they love?


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When conducting a job search, millennials often scroll down to see the perks a company offers before reading the general description. They’ll likely search for the company on annual “Best Places to Work” rankings from Glassdoor, Forbes and Business Insider to see how it fairs. These younger job seekers are looking for things like in-house yoga, company-sanctioned beer pong and paid time off to volunteer — all of which fit into their work-life balance guidepost. 

What you likely won’t see on these lists are “we utilize modern workplace software to provide a productive, enjoyable and efficient workplace for our employees.” Allowing employees to reserve conference rooms, hotel desks, or various work settings (couch, raised desk, etc.) doesn’t read quite as sexy as free yoga and booze, but it’s nonetheless important to creating an exceptionally productive workplace.

Quality over coffee

Millennials now make up the largest generation in the workforce at 34%, and rank jobs and companies according to how they align with needs and life goals. They are a generation motivated by balance, which is why they are so attracted to companies that bring enjoyment into the workplace. However, they are also the generation swept up by Hygge and self-care. Diligent in creating time for themselves, millennials value flexible work schedules over desk jockeying and couches over cubicles. Overall, though, their professional needs are not drastically different from those of previous generations. The majority of the workforce states that, second only to opportunities for growth, the quality of their manager and the organization’s workplace environment are their highest priorities.

How does a company advertise something as benign as “quality management and workplace” on a job posting? Quality management is difficult to articulate. Leaders that invest in their employees and offices that keep the lights on are assumed to be fulfilling the bare minimum, yet these operational perks take a backseat to more marketable ones. Once the allure of free lunch fades or the office coffee pot becomes routinely empty, it’s critical for a company to demonstrate that it’s more than just empty promises of a robust office culture. Emphasizing lightweight benefits over the operational prowess of an organization undervalues the needs and interests of millennials at work. According to Seda Evis, the Director of Business and Strategy at Birsel + Seck, “Millennials value coherence between the physical workspace and the culture of the organization. They expect to see the office as an extension of the purpose and meaning of work,” which is to say that millennials want to feel taken care of at work through both words and surroundings.

Space as a service

Employees want to be set up for success, and the perks that are integral to that success are those that give them their opportunity to do their best work. Managers may interpret that as their employees requiring a daily to-do list, but on the simplest level, they just want tools like technology and space. What good is the office coffee pot when it’s always empty? How can employees make confidential phone calls in an open office without having to duck into the stairwell? Where on employees’ shared, cramped desk can they get a complete look at a marketing deck? 

Solving these problems and treating space as anything other than a service is simpler and more important than companies may imagine. Offices are no longer an obvious necessity, nor are they rigid structures with perfectly measured cubicles and corner spaces. The integrated workplace management systems and computer-aided facility management software mentioned above are what allow companies to transform their offices from minimally functioning rooms to tech-integrated oases. Sometimes, creating a service-oriented space is as simple as offering sit-to-stand desks, installing private phone booths and rearranging an unused conference room to mimic a living room. More technical are the operational tools many businesses lack the bandwidth to implement and that companies like SpaceIQ focus solely on. Companies have to find the best tools for, say, reporting a blown outlet or locating a staff member who isn’t working at their assigned desk. 

The desires of the workforce seem to change overnight while office structures take months, even years, to adjust, distracting employees from fulfilling their professional goals. Operators and real estate junkies need to begin looking at space the same way they look at health benefits, happy hour-style perks, and flexible scheduling: as a service to employees. Viewing space as a need or service rather than a physical object with a 10-year lifespan forces us to consider what people really need from it. For millennials, it means being able to move freely from one space to another according to their moods, while still having all the tools of an office available on a laptop. For a business, it means employing phrases like ‘integrated workplace management systems’ and ‘computer-aided facility management software’ more frequently. It also means translating those phrases into layman’s terms: flexible, high-quality management with room for growth. 

Sounds like a great job description.

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Jeff Revoy

Jeff Revoy is a senior executive with leadership achievements spanning all company operations including CEO, sales, marketing, and product development. Most recently, he co-founded his 3rd company, SpaceIQ - a workplace management and real estate platform that is helping companies like Tesla, Snap, Nasdaq, Slack and more better manage one of their most valuable assets - The Workplace! He regularly writes and speaks on topics related to leadership, company culture, and future trends in real estate and workplace market.