How Millennials Are Making Happiness at Work Happen

Gone are the days of punching a time clock and working in a dreary office, only to punch out again in eight hours. Millennials are injecting life into the corporate world and changing the way employees feel about their workplaces.

A study conducted by JLL on the Human Experience suggests that an employee’s environment will affect productivity as well as the entire company’s performance. The global research project, part of the Future of Work program, included over 7,300 employees with 40 corporate clients in 12 countries.

JLL created the Human Experience Model to help employers create experiences in their workplaces that connect on a personal level with their employees, clients and stakeholders. With more millennials entering the workforce, it is critical that organizations make happiness happen to boost engagement, empowerment and fulfillment.

According to the JLL research, understanding human experience in the office and workspace is key to differentiating how people engage with an organization.

The Key Findings of the Human Experience

Engagement, empowerment and fulfillment are the top three priorities that drive human experiences:

1. Engagement fosters a sense of commitment

When an employee engages in the company’s mission and values, it instills commitment. Emotions and values play a role in engagement and commitment.

For example, in the U.S., France and Australia, engaged employees feel a sense of pride in the workplace. Up to 64 percent of U.S. employees feel engaged as compared to 40 percent of employees globally.

In Japan, dedication spurs staff commitment, while belonging guides employees in Germany. The culture and values are the driving force of engagement and vary between geographical locations.

2. Empowerment will drive change

When it comes to the design and layout of a workspace, employees are seeking change —wanting to step away from the traditional office arrangements. Involving them in the process of workspace set-up can encourage optimal productivity.

When it comes to open-space floor plans and unassigned desks, as many as 24 percent of employees don’t feel ready at all to make the switch from their enclosed offices and personal space. However, 70 percent of workers in the U.S. would change to an open-plan work space if it nurtures their creativity and advances collaboration and community.

3. Fulfillment is the new happiness

The sense of fulfillment is another key finding from the research as work-life balance tends to vary between countries. As many as 69 percent of the survey participants cited happiness as a key factor to fulfillment, followed by recognition at 60 percent, personal learning at 54 percent and creativity at 53 percent.

JLL suggests that companies should institute a Chief Happiness Officer to ensure the health and well-being of all employees, and close to 90 percent of workers in the U.S. agree.

Additional Factors to Establishing Happiness in the Workplace

In addition to the top three pillars of the Human Experience Model, these factors also contribute to developing happiness among employees in the workplace:

Entrepreneurism

Millennials have the heart of entrepreneurialism. This new generation wants to offer innovative ideas to the world, and employers should foster that spirit.

Although large companies attract millennials more than smaller companies, they will have a better chance of retaining their new talent if they promote an entrepreneurial culture.

Trust and Kindness

The right managerial behaviors seem to make all the difference in the world on how an employee feels about commitment and engagement. For example, if a supervisor demonstrates kindness and trustworthiness toward their team, the employees will respond to the feeling of belonging with pride and commitment to their position and company.

Managers can motivate employees to treat each other with kindness by providing collaboration opportunities and fun work events. These instill a sense of trust while reducing stress.

Innovative Work Spaces

Employees participating in the Human Experience research cited creative work spaces as a key factor in applying and staying with a particular company. Participants requested spaces for concentration, communal areas, collaborative spaces and health-based and family-based environments. For millennials in particular, communal spaces have a strong impact on quality of life and engagement.

The findings also uncovered a preference for areas to regenerate and find inspiration, particularly from employees in the U.S., China, India, Italy and South Africa. Around 39 percent of participants want a non-traditional space to help them step away from their desk. With various work spaces reserved for concentration, regeneration and healthy movement, companies can attract and maintain millennial talent.

What do you think of the findings? Tell us how you’re making happiness happen in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for more tips on creating a career you love!


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Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks.

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