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How to Satisfy Millennials’ Hunger for Collaboration

Whether good news or bad news, we’ve all heard everyone talking about millennials. There’s really no way to avoid them since there are 80 million in the U.S. and more entering the workforce day after day — almost 50% of millennials plan to actively look for a new job in 2015, according to a study by Aon Hewitt.

So in order to attract and keep this generation engaged, you’ll have to start listening to their needs. Gartner, a global research firm, found these interesting stats:

  • Employees are only spending about 40% of time at their personal workstations
  • Non-group tasks have decreased to about 20% of the working day

The dynamic of the work environment is changing, and can you guess who’s behind that? You guess it: millennials. As a generation that grew up collaborating, this crowd expects that in the workplace. So if you really want to attract millennials and tap into this pool of talent, you’ll need to consider restructuring or redesigning your workplace setup. Doing this will help create an environment that fosters collaboration and creative thinking — both of which this generation highly values.

Fall of the Wall

collaborative workspaces

In a typical workplace, employees would withdraw to their own private space. The human silo. Millennials don’t want this. They crave collaboration. And the first step to satisfying their hunger for teamwork is to say “rest in peace” to those cubicles. In fact, companies that moved from cubicles to an open-floor plan enjoyed some amazing results, according to this study by interior design and research firm Knoll:

  • Performance increased by an average of 440%
  • There was a 5.5% reduction in business process time and cost

This makes sense. Walls are a physical obstacle that blocks communication. They separate people and prevent them from talking to each other. So is there any good reason for organizations to still keep them up? Try grouping desks together in pods or lining them up in rows so employees are in close contact with each other. And make sure teammates can easily talk to one another without having to shout or move too far from their desks.

Space for Collaboration

After the walls are gone, the next step is to give millennials the space they need for collaboration. According to this survey by IdeaPaint, millennials reported that only 30.8% of their ideation meetings are planned. So to support that process, here are solutions that encourage both spontaneous and scheduled brainstorming:

  • Open meeting areas: Scatter tables and chairs in various nooks and crannies around the office. This allows employees do some spur-of-the-moment teamwork instead of making them wait until they can schedule a meeting room. Even better, hang up a whiteboard nearby, and you’ve got a truly productive space.
  •  Break rooms: Opposite to what you may think, idle chitchat around the water cooler isn’t always time wasting. Employees tend to create conversations that are work related, so you never really know when a brilliant idea will pop up.
  • Meeting rooms: Besides spontaneous gathering areas, don’t forget to keep rooms that people can schedule. This is ideal for when there’s a sensitive topic on the horizon or you need to gather a large party.

Startup Stock Photos

Collaboration can’t always be done at people’s desks — especially if it involves three or more people. So to encourage this type of work, you’ll need to designate specific spaces so people can be free to unleash their creative ideas with one another.

Space for Privacy

The one thing to keep in mind is that we’re not saying to get rid of all privacy. Collaborative areas are extremely important, but so are private spaces. This comes in handy when an employee needs to work on a complex project or a task that involves fine attention to details. With these spaces, they’ll be able to really hone in on their task and keep focus. And the walls don’t have to be fully enclosed; partitions will suffice. Just having that minor barrier still allows employees to zone in on their task. An office that pairs collaborative and private spaces gives employees the flexibility to choose workstations that suit whatever task they’re working on. It’s always said that millennials are shaking up the workplace in a negative manner. However, that’s not the case. They’re actually making it better for employees of all generations. So to really attract them to your organization and keep them truly engaged, you’ll need to create an environment that fosters their collaborative nature.

 

DavidNiu_HeadshotDavid Niu is the Founder and CEO of TINYpulse, an employee engagement survey solution that empowers leaders with actionable feedback to make positive changes in their workplaces. David is a serial entrepreneur, having founded and successfully sold two prior businesses, NetConversions and BuddyTV. He attended the University of California at Berkeley for his BA and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for his MBA. He was named a “40 Under 40” recipient by the Puget Sound Business Journal and is actively involved in the Entrepreneurs Organization “EO.” David is also the author of Careercation: Trading Briefcase for Suitcase to Find Entrepreneurial Happiness.
Twitter: @davidniu
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thinkspace BADASS Award

badass-award-awardWho doesn’t want to be called a badass?! Batman is a badass, Elon Musk is a badass, and I think Michael Brown, CEO of Affirma and Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments are both pretty badass too. In the spirit of being a badass, we launched the thinkspace BADASS Award, an employee recognition award.

Throughout my career I’ve seen a whole bunch of different ways companies try to recognize employees and most of them have been where a manager is the one that decides who gets the award. Instead of this being a top down award, it’s an award where peers get to nominate their coworkers and say they work with someone who is pretty badass.

Here’s how it works

We use a Google Docs Survey and it looks just like this:badass-nomination-form

Each month we will award someone on the team with the thinkspace BADASS Award. We’re looking to recognize a person who exhibits our core values. Vote for anyone but yourself. Vote for as many people and as many times as you would like. This is completely anonymous.

Please write a sentence or two about something they did that was exceptional, above and beyond, and aligns with our core values.

We will announce the winner of the thinkspace BADASS at the team meeting each month. We will read the nominations at the team meeting and award the person with the “chunk of metal” and $100. The “chunk of metal” is a passed along from one person to the next.

Our Core Values

GOAL CRUSHING ATTITUDE: We have the courage to start and resilience to finish. We push ourselves to the edge so that we know where the edge is. This is the heart of having an entrepreneurial spirit.

APPETITE FOR LEARNING: We are intellectually curious. We love to ask “why”. We love reading and pushing our knowledge to new depths. We believe that it is through learning that we are able to innovate. We reject the status quo.

GRATITUDE: We are thankful for the small things. We will over-deliver when we can. We are helpful and give back to our amazing community in any way we can. We choose to reach others over our own comfort.

BADASS Winners

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April 2015: Katie Walvatne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May 2015: Monica Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 2015: Kate Bailes

June 2015: Kate Bailes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 2015: Patty Koenigs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2015: Grace Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 2015: Alexandria Ghosn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 2015: Katie Walvatne

October 2015: Katie Walvatne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 2015: Laura Parkinson

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From Blondes to IPAs to Sours, Beer Lovers Toast to Seattle Beer Week

unnamedWhether you’re new to drinking craft beer or a longtime fan Seattle Beer Week is your chance to join thousands of others who want to enjoy what the market has to offer. The ten day celebration kicks off today with dozens of bars, pubs, and breweries hosting dozens of events showcasing a variety of hop based beverages. It’s no coincidence Seattle Beer Week is successful. According to the Brewers Association, Washington State ranks second in the nation  in the number of craft breweries creating batches of a drink first created in ancient Mesopotamia.

Among the dozens of business owners participating is Burc McFarlen, who runs The Beer Authority in Lake City. Like a sommelier speaks effortlessly about wine, Burc knows his beer. With 13 taps that are constantly changing, more than 400 bottled beers, Burc estimates he’s tasted about 75% of his inventory. He uses descriptions like “floral notes,” “hoppy,” and a “hint of vanilla” when explaining the subtle differences in beer you can find at his bar. He’s looking forward to Seattle Beer Week and is hosting a few events starting with a golf tournament. “The first four days we’re only pouring Washington beer to keep it local,” he explained.

BA_BurcPhoneBurc also partnered with Alaskan Brewing Company to offer a unique event on May 15. Customers can try grilled Alaskan salmon marinated in the company’s amber ale. Exotic meat like reindeer sausage from a butcher shop in Juneau is also on the menu. “We’re going to do a vertical tasting of their smoked porter,” Burc added. It will be from 2014, 2012, 2010, and 2008. Burc raved about the beer comparing it to “drinking smoked salmon.”

“It’s been fun watching it grow. Although it makes it harder to get into the events that I want to go to,” Jennifer Schweitzer shared with a smile. “It’s a good time. You get to see everybody in one place.” She has nearly two decades worth of experience as a bartender and has watched the evolution of Seattle Beer Week since it began in 2009. She knows firsthand the amount of work required to handle the event.

This year she won’t be behind the bar and is especially looking forward to Sour Fest hosted by Brouwers Café in Fremont. When asked why she loves the variety that’s growing in popularity her answer is succinct, “because sours are the magical unicorns of beer.” According to Jennifer there’s a wide variety of sour beers that are pleasing to many palettes, “the profile ranges from really sweet and fruity to tart and citrusy to boozy and funky. It’s just fun.”

As the craft beer market expanded, Jenn took an interest in the specialty beer about ten years ago. She wanted to know more about what she was serving and the interest has paid off. She’s able to make recommendations and help others give new beers a chance by providing “guidance not judgement.” Last year 252 craft breweries called the Evergreen State home according to the Washington Beer Commission. That’s up from 202 in the previous year and there’s no signs of the trend slowing down. “It’s happening everywhere especially in Ballard. You can’t turn a corner without seeing a brewery,” Jenn added.
As Seattle Beer Week expands Burc thinks there’s room for improvement. He’d like for there to be less focus on major distributors and see it go back to its roots – offering more educational events where people can “nerd out” and really learn about the intricacies of craft beer. His partnership with Alaskan Brewing Company is a reflection of what he’d like to see as a craft beer maven.

Whether you’re a novice or have advanced knowledge of craft beer Seattle Beer Week is a great opportunity to try new beers and share a toast with friends or strangers. “Craft beer is the ultimate ice breaker,” Burc shared.