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Behavior Change
Millennials, GenXers and Baby Boomers Have Similar Workplace Preferences

Age is less of a factor than widely thought when it comes to workplace preferences in the U.S., according to a new workplace strategy report by CBRE Group.

The study found that, while current assumptions about millennials are driving the design of many workplaces today, there is actually little difference in workplace preferences between millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers. The study is based on aggregated CBRE Workplace Strategy surveys from more than 5,500 office workers across numerous industries,

Millennials currently comprise approximately 24 percent of the adult U.S. population and are projected to constitute 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. There has been no shortage of fanfare over this new workforce generation, particularly when it comes to workplace strategy. While this is causing many companies today to debate how to balance the needs of millennials with those of a more tenured workforce, the CBRE study suggests that the generational divide is more perception than reality.

Although the report found that millennials are collaborative, Gen Xers and baby boomers were found to be equally as collaborative. In fact, millennials actually reported spending slightly more time doing individual focused work than their colleagues from other generations.

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When asked what types of spaces would enhance a future workplace, millennials placed most of their value on spaces that allow them to think and concentrate, followed by spaces to meet and collaborate, and spaces for learning and training. Of least importance to millennials was space for socializing — but they still rank this as considerably more important than do their Generation X and baby boomer colleagues.

Contrary to popular perceptions, when asked how they would like to work in the future, millennials said they’d like to spend more time connecting via email and more time in formal meetings — and less time on company-sponsored social networks.

The study suggests that generational differences are not as marked as previously thought when it comes to workplace preferences. This is important for companies to keep in mind as they work to attract and retain top talent through employee engagement. Survey results from WeSpire earlier this year showed that companies view employee recruitment and retention as one of the main purposes for sharing organizational sustainability efforts. Strong employee engagement programs attract new, young, talented millennial workers, and it follows that HR is increasingly seen as sustainability’s main advocate. In turn, the power of employee engagement to strengthen sustainability actions has bolstered the growing relationship between sustainability and HR.


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