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FYI – the 21st century workplace

Today’s workplace environment has changed dramatically compared to the days of the baby boomer's workplace.

Today’s workplace environment has changed dramatically compared to the days of the baby boomer’s workplace.

Just the other day, my ‘baby boomer’ parents sat astonished as I explained the amazing day we had in the office celebrating a colleague’s birthday with gifts, tea, and home-made cake (which has become a tradition in our office)!

Besides the birthday celebrations, they can’t believe the relaxed, fun atmosphere of the office, where everyone jokes and laughs; ‘the chief’ always keeps connected with each and every employee; working hours are flexible; no-one worries about ‘proper office attire’; and music is played to make sure nothing gets ‘too serious’. It’s in this upbeat environment that “Team Digitlab” thrives and excels!

One of the main reasons for this changed environment is due to the changing image of the typical employee.

Come Recommended stated in an article by Dan Schawbel that there are a few differences between the two, namely the baby boomer (between the ages of 48 and 65 years) and Generation Y or Millennial employee (born between 1981 and 2000), and employers should keep these in mind if they wish to keep a productive and happy workplace!

Schawbel identified the following:

1. Generation Y (or Gen Y) employees require your immediate attention

We’ve grown up with access to the internet and therefore instant answers to any questions we have. We like constant feedback and therefore appreciate regular feedback sessions with mentors who we can learn from.

2. Gen Y employees work when they want to work

Not to sound too much like spoilt brats, we like flexible work hours. In today’s new digital age, we understand what work needs to be done and how to do it; and therefore should be able to negotiate the hours we spend in the office.

3. Gen Y employees don’t believe in a rigid hierarchical structure

We believe that everyone has an opinion and should be heard. We also like transparency and truly feel part of the company when we are continuously kept informed regarding future projects, etc.

Gen Y employees also want to work in a place where they can socialise informally and know that they are working for a company that is always striving to stay fresh, modern, and up-to-date; with state-of-the art technology or concepts.

With unscheduled absenteeism at an all-time high since 1999, according to a survey carried out by the CRF Institute, shouldn’t you start looking at your own workplace and how it can be changed or tweaked? According to Crous, South African Manager of the CRF Institute:

“Absenteeism can be reduced by giving employees a working environment they don’t want to avoid, maximising wellbeing and minimising stress.”

Some tips for creating that workplace “Utopia”

1. Get to know your employees

Organise informal meetings and ask them engaging questions in order to get a better idea of who they are and what they want to achieve.

2. Allow for individual creativity

Once project tasks have been put in place, allow for open communication and discussion as to how to go about executing the project in the best way possible, i.e. bring them into the decision-making process.

3. Nowadays, employees want a more work-life balance

Be open to negotiating work hours – as long as the work is still done according to company policy. It’s not always necessary to enforce employees spend long hours in the office – especially if they can also do the work from home.

4. Ensure there is structure and clear understanding of goals and expectations in the workplace

Ensure everyone knows what the company’s goals are and encourage them to set their own personal goals.

5. Allow them to feel responsible

This is done by setting up the tasks that need to be done, and then allowing them to manage themselves to ensure that they do the work. Be sure to have weekly check-ups though in order to ensure that you stay in touch with everyone and prevent anyone from being overwhelmed.

6. Employees want to learn and better themselves – especially Gen Y employees!

Set up a mentor program; send them to conferences or get them enrolled into short courses in order to keep them interested and motivated.

7. Give consistent performance feedback and praise when necessary

“Having a personality of caring about people is important. You can’t be a good leader unless you generally like people. That is how you bring out the best in them.”
~ Richard Branson

Create and maintain an energetic workplace; strive to bring out the best of your passionate team of hardworking individuals; make sure they enjoy coming to work; and you should soon have employees that actually look forward to Monday mornings in the office!


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