Millennials in the Office: The Power of Choice at Work

We live in a world driven by choice and personalization. Technological and social advancements are driving product and service features that puts control directly in the hands of the user, giving us the ability to choose everything from the exact songs in our playlist to television suggestions driven by our personal taste.

Control Equates to Well-Being

This same desire for control extends to the workplace. As leaders in workplace beverage solutions, Mars Drinks has researched what motivates employees and how this contributes to a great workplace.

In a survey of more than 4,000 workers across North America, respondents who reported they “have control over the things that are important to me” also proved highly likely to enjoy a sense of well-being on the job. They’re also more likely to be engaged, collaborative, and productive than workers who feel otherwise.

When people feel a sense of control, they are:

  • 57% more likely to be engaged
  • 55% more likely to be collaborating
  • 53% more likely to be productive
  • 86% more likely to have a sense of well-being

A Generational Lens

This preference for choices and control holds true for all generations in the workplace, including 59% of Millennials, 61% of Generation X, 61% of Boomers, and 68% Traditionalists.

Overall, no matter the generation, people want to know their opinions matter and this is the most important factor in providing a sense of well-being. Providing choices and control in the workplace enhances well-being by sending a powerful message that employees are valued.

But how do you provide your employees with a sense of control? We have a few suggestions:

Choice of Place

A generation ago, office workers mostly toiled at their desks, venturing away only for meetings in enclosed conference rooms. Modern workplace design encourages greater choice, supplementing assigned workstations with casual meeting and lounge spaces of various sizes.

A centerpiece of this approach is the work café, a large gathering place that offers a mix of seating types to support solo work, scheduled interaction, and impromptu encounters. Workers can use such spaces however they choose. Generally:

  • Millennial workers prefer to use work cafés to get work done
  • Generation X tends to use work cafés to get away from work or to refresh
  • Baby Boomers are most likely to be found connecting with others socially within the work café experience

Providing variety of workspaces help teams feel refreshed and ready to take on new projects.

Choice of Time

New technologies allow many workers to complete their tasks remotely, wherever and whenever is most convenient for them. To accommodate this new way of working, many organizations are experimenting with flexible hours, giving their people the freedom to set their own schedules and trusting that they’ll choose wisely.

As flexible hours become more popular, organizations are implementing some parameters to ensure productivity doesn’t suffer. One strategy is to establish core hours on certain days, when everyone must be in the office to establish face-to-face consistency. Another is to mandate the presence of all team members in the office at key points in a project cycle.

Relationship building needs special attention in corporate cultures that give people control over when they work. Morning huddles over coffee or afternoon check-ins over tea bring team members together to share ideas and solve problems in a stimulating atmosphere.

Choice of Task

The quest for workplace control extends beyond place and time to encompass projects as well.

Our research found a disconnect between how workers perceive their performance and whether it matters. By and large, workers feel good about their personal productivity, but question whether their accomplishments add much value for their organization.

Companies have an opportunity to improve workplace culture by helping employees understand how their work connects to the big picture. Leaders might host coffee chats to reinforce the organization’s vision and explain why every job is important to fulfilling it. Likewise, break areas situated to encourage mingling across departments could help teams learn how their work contributes to broader company performance.

Choice of Beverages

If workers are clamoring for choices, workplace beverages can be a powerful leverage point in creating an environment where collaboration, engagement, well-being and productivity can thrive.

First, offering a variety of drinks in the office signals that workers are valued, which boosts engagement. When employees feel appreciated, they’re inclined to demonstrate greater emotional commitment to their employer.

Second, it taps into the innate desire for choice, a proven contributor to well-being. When workers have choices, they enjoy their jobs more and make greater contributions to the benefit of themselves, their teams, and their companies.

Implications

Connections over coffee. As people gain more control over where and when they work, employers need to be more intentional about cultivating a culture where relationships can thrive. Casual get togethers over coffee or tea help forge connections among team members who might otherwise see each other infrequently.

Magnet beverages. If people can choose to work pretty much anywhere, they need a good reason to choose the office. Scheduled meetings and the desire for face-to-face contact are two good reasons. Another is a broad selection of quality beverages. Appealing choices on the drinks menu invite people to the office, making it a place they want to be.