Gen Y forces workplaces to evolve. Has yours?

From open floor plans to online collaboration to the fast-fading annual review, in the workplace the times, they are a-changin’.

There’s a lot of talk about Generation Y’s entrance into the workplace. There are accusations that millennials are lazy and spoiled, as well as criticism about their desire to have a flexible working environment and social media access.

Nevertheless, workplaces everywhere are changing and evolving as Generation Y elevates its profile. Your office is probably one of them. One major change lies in internal communications.

Not only do many Gen Y employees not want to work in an office at all, but if they do so, they want an open flow of communication. There are multiple aspects to alter, from office design to communication norms.

The office vibe

Long gone are the days of spending eight hours in dreary, dimly lit cubicles. Generation Y does not define success as a 9-to-5 job, working alone at a desk. Collaboration has become increasingly important. Employees want open space, with few walls, if any, between them and their co-workers. To encourage teamwork, consider the overall design of the office.

  • Open space: There are a number of workstation concepts that don’t include cubicles. Be sure to check all your options instead of settling on the standard cubicle style.

Technology at their fingertips

Generation Y is the digital generation. Millennials grew up with computers and the Internet, and they developed and matured as it did. To technology-centric employees, communication comes in every new form (and, occasionally, the good old phone call). These newer channels can benefit your company; online communication is fast, convenient, and often free of charge.

  • Online chat: Whether you work with an external chat company such as Digsby or Gchat (a free component of the Gmail service), your employees can use these channels to communicate quickly and efficiently. With flexible hours and work from home options becoming more popular, it makes staying connected easy.

Face to face

Gen Y wants feedback, reviews, conversations—anything that tells them how they’re doing, what they can improve upon, and where they stand within the company. predicts a change in protocol: “Gen Y will invent the on-the-spot performance review. The smartest companies will train their managers in giving frequent feedback, and the companies that don’t will get a quick reality check when their Gen Y employees demand them.”

So, what does this mean for internal communications?

  • Keep it open and continual: It’s important that your company is transparent about what it wants, how the company wants it, and what the employees are doing with it. Millennials want feedback and reviews, and to retain them, it’s important that these are part of everyday communication.

It’s been said that Gen Y is changing many a thing in the workplace, making it a more modern environment. Because of this, communication is evolving, becoming more efficient and frequent. With a large influx of younger employees, it’s important that your business adapt, reinvent, and accept change as it’s requested.

Jessica Sanders is an avid small-business writer touching on topics that range from social media to business management. She is a professional blogger and Web content writer for

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