FM Articles

When Hiring Millennials, the Big Pay Check May Not Be Enough


Attracting people to work for your company is not going to be as easy as it once was, especially if the main offering comes down to dollars and cents. Millennials[1] – those who entered the workforce around the year 2000 – and Generation Z – those expected to become a significant part of the Canadian workforce starting in 2020 – are looking for attributes other than higher pay in the companies they work for.

Yes, compensation is and will still be important. But these young workers are also very concerned about the design of their workplaces, how people interact in these work settings, and the cleanliness of the workplace. Here are a few of the expectations Millennial and GenZ workers are likely to have and what Canadian business and building owners, developers, and managers can do to meet them.

MillennialsFlexible Workstations
The old work setting of one person, one office has been slowly disappearing for more than 20 years. Replaced by cubicles in the 1990s, individual offices are nearly extinct for all but the C-suite, and even cubicles are now headed for the trash. Millennials and GenZers like to work together. Community spaces and community tables, where employees can easily meet, see, and collaborate in a relaxed setting, is what they prefer. They also like to be able to take their laptop and, for a change of scenery, either work independently somewhere else in the office or with another group of employees.

The Takeaway: Remove the walls and partitions; provide tables and comfortable seating arrangements; and mix in independent work areas, sometimes called office “hotels,” where staffers can check in and be on their own.

Maximize (Natural) Light
It used to be that the perimeter of an office floor was lined with private offices and conference rooms. Lower-level employees were relegated to the inner ring of the office, with limited natural light. Office design has come a long way since then, with open floorplans allowing much more natural light to flood the space. Young workers expect this, and it can also save on energy costs.

The Takeaway: Place conference rooms, remaining private offices, and the office hotels in the center of the workspace and populate the surrounding workplaces with the flexible workstations just discussed.

Healthy Vending Machines
Business owners will not necessarily need to provide free health food or fitness programs, but stocking vending machines with the conventional chips, crackers, cookies, and soda pop is not going to work. Younger people want healthier food options. They are more concerned than earlier generations about what they put into their bodies.

The Takeaway: Vending machines with healthier food options that have fewer calories, low sugar content, and organic or gluten-free ingredients are the vending machine items of the future.

Workplace AmenitiesMillennials
Just as individual offices and cubicles have been tossed out the window, so has the 9-to-5 (aka, the 8-to-5 or sometimes the 9-to-6) workday. Younger people like to work both remotely and in the office, but when at the office, they may come in at just about any time and may stay until all hours. Because of this, they expect their employer to offer perks such as on-site ATMs and convenient coffee stations that make their workdays easier. Some offices even offer an entertainment room so that workers can take a break.

The Takeaway: Save your staff time, enhance their work experience, and encourage a healthy work-life balance by installing an ATM; providing coffee stations throughout the office; and offering an on-site fitness center or child care center.

Promote Sustainability
Young people are sustainability-focused, and they expect their employers to be the same. As a case in point, a large Internet-related company wanted to reduce the number of garbage can liners it used. With thousands of employees, hundreds of nonrecyclable liners were used every month. To reduce the number, the company placed large cans with no liners around the work areas to be used for “dry” garbage.

Garbage cans with liners, intended for “wet” (or organic) garbage such as food, were also installed. Making the system work depended on how much the young staffers would buy into the program. What surprised managers at this company was just how eager they were to oblige. The use of garbage can liners was reduced, which also resulted in major cost savings for the company.

The Takeaway: Take measurable and noticeable steps to increase the sustainability of the office, such as reducing the use of garbage can liners and increasing recycling services.

Healthy Cleaning
Younger people want their work settings cleaned using environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, tools, and equipment. They also want to be sure their work environments not only look clean but are clean, which can be a big difference. After all, when more people are sharing the same work areas and working together, it means more people may be coughing, sneezing, or yawning – spreading airborne germs on to surrounding surfaces.

The Takeaway: All offices can benefit from scheduling a surface assessment service to evaluate cleaning effectiveness and determine if and what areas of the workspace require more attention to ensure health and safety. Healthy cleaning means green cleaning that is regularly assessed and quantified.

Brad Evans is the general manager of OptiSolve, a Canadian assessment service company with imaging technology that makes the invisible visible by revealing microbial contamination. OptiSolve facilitates a proactive approach to infection prevention as well as the ability to validate that money being invested in cleaning is delivering on the goal of keeping facilities clean and healthy. He can be reached at

[1]In Canada, Millennials number about nine million, just over a quarter of the country’s total population.