By Steve Upham : Director of altspace Coworking Office, Altrincham

This October we welcomed Natalie Lewis from Dynamic HR Services to altspace to give a really thought provoking speech on some topical challenges in her industry.  Company culture, flexibility and experiences are increasingly significant to younger workers.  Today, they can offer more motivation than salary and bonus incentives.  As employers it’s important to acknowledge these factors to ensure that you can recruit and retain the best talent and keep your workforce happy and motivated. Some forward thinking employers including Zappos and Facebook have illustrated the benefits of an inclusive environment with less hierarchy and more autonomy for employees.

With the social challenges of student debt, unaffordable accommodation and shorter work contracts today’s school and college leavers have different values and aims than previous generations. They view work differently and are happy to be more transient with less loyalty to companies and even industries.  Experiences, travel and adventure are cherished more than material assets and this is influencing where they choose to work. Career development is a significant factor putting a spotlight on your internal training programme and mobility between roles and departments.

Natalie’s experience in Human Resources has given her an insight into other motivations.  A significant benefit that resonated with me involved access to mentors and managers who can inspire their team.  This should be an easy perk to offer if you’re fulfilling an adequate leadership role.  By being a good manager and communicator you can inspire younger employees and apprentices.   A collaborative environment can be encouraged where workers are consulted and contribute to key decisions.  This can be as simple as setting up online staff polls to gage the mood, decide on what to wear on a Friday and which food to eat during a weekly lunch together.

The importance of social opportunities within a company shouldn’t be under-estimated.  Regular evenings out, coordinated coffee breaks, the chance to eat together once a week and sports clubs can all create cohesion and help teams to bond.  When you consider that most people in an office sit looking at screens for most of the day it’s not a surprise to learn that we value the chance to meet face to face in a non-work setting.  Don’t use these moments to introduce an agenda or discuss the recent drop in sales, trust me it won’t work out!

The location of your workplace will in addition have an impact on staffing.  Younger members have contrasting values and tend to prefer access to town centre amenities such as gyms, coffee shops and cool bars. This is a compelling reason why large corporates such as Autotrader,  Bet365 and Sainsbury’s have moved operations to central Manchester.  Quite simply their workers are happy to live and work in the City so there’s a plentiful supply of talent available.  Many Companies move to areas where there’s a marriage of affordable costs, access and a ready workforce. Other relationships can be managed remotely buy you need the right infrastructure to progress. Company culture is evolving and Natalie’s talk reminded the room why it’s crucial to ensure your benefits continue to meet your team’s needs.

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