Portland: Where young people go to work?

Portland: Where young people go to work?

UntitledBY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

It has been said that Portland is where America’s youth goes to retire. Our coffee, beer and bike culture has made Portland the destination of choice for the highly educated and unemployed. Though some may malign their ironic glasses, these hipsters are mobile, collaborative and very creative, making them excellent potential employees. 

Many companies see the value of recruiting from this pool of available, talented and plaid-wearing workers, but are leery of how these new employees will change their culture.

Here are 10 ways your company can get on board with the hipster movement and make your work environment better for everyone.

Embrace the “strange." All too often businesses write dress codes, e-mail etiquette and performance expectations that are antiquated.  Asking employees to cover their “Muppets for Life” tattoos not only stifles creativity, but also forces an “us vs. them” mindset.

Allow for “zoning out time." Brains can’t handle more then a few hours of information before they start to sputter out.  Allowing individuals time to play pool, grab coffee, or discuss the latest episode of Game of Thrones shows employees that you respect their need to recharge.

Beer, it’s what’s for lunch. Deciding to allow alcohol is not for every work environment. However if your business can, think of the message it sends. We trust you and believe that you can have fun and work hard—and we want you to. Now, pass the PBR.

Express yourself. Many businesses have moved from cubicles to open concepts to allow for more collaboration.  The downside of this model is that individuals are often less expressive in their workspace. Make sure individuals feel free to jazz up their desk... within reason. 

Smartphones for everyone! People love gadgets, so loosen up your tech rules. Allowing personal use of technology (that doesn’t violate any ethical or legal rules, of course) says to employees, “We want you to utilize the latest technology to work hard for us—and to watch Keyboard Cat and take selfies."

Encourage activity. Getting your employees active has tons of benefits like reduced absenteeism, reduction of benefit costs and better productivity. Encourage bike to work programs, reimburse gym costs and let employees flex their time to take a Bikram Yoga class. These small accommodations reap huge rewards.

Flex time is the right time. People don’t only do their best work from 9am to 5pm. Allow flexibility in when and how people work. For some jobs, adherence to a schedule is critical, but even for those find ways to allow for flexibility. 

Look cool. Make your work environment somewhere people want to be. Are there cozy spots in which to sit and gather; is the lighting good, do people cringe when they see your Thomas Kinkade paintings? Take design seriously, because even if your employees don’t have an eye for color, they know what they hate.

Allow for interactions, and force it if you have to. The Millennial generation has been working in teams ever since they left the pee-wee soccer field, so working collaboratively comes natural to many. If people are not naturally mixing, find ways to make it happen. It may feel forced at first, but eventually they will naturally gather—if only to complain about you forcing them.

Encourage mistakes. It’s been a tough economic road for workers; and because of that, many people may have limited or non-existent work experience. That lack of experience coupled with the desire to make an impression can lead to missteps. Be okay with mistakes, allow for them and celebrate them. A company that doesn’t allow people to take risks or make mistakes becomes stagnant.

Creating an environment that allows for creativity, recognizes individuality and allows for flexibility doesn’t just benefit the young and hip, it makes the work environment better for everyone. 

Even the tragically uncool.

How is your organization changing the workspace to accommodate these new employees?


 

Katie Ausburger is Senior Manager of Employee Experience for XPLANE

 

Comments   

 
Guest
+3 #1 Is This a Joke?Guest 2014-06-06 17:54:17
I guess I'm such a dinosaur that I never thought about my workplace...the operative word is WORK...accommod ating my juvenile, self centered behavior. Most employers hire people to work, not to discuss "Game of Thrones." As to dress codes, of course depending on the job, this might not be an issue. But as a female professional handling substantial sums of OPM, I suspect our firm's clients would feel a bit more confident of someone wearing businesslike clothing and not sporting piercings, studs, tattoos or clothing reminiscent of Abby in NCIS. Fine for a TV show but not really something appropriate for most work enviornments.
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Guest
+3 #2 "This is not a joke," another female professional respondsGuest 2014-06-09 18:38:20
I work somewhere just like this article describes I can say this is highest performing work environment I've ever been a part of. That's right, higher performing than the investment banks in Zurich and New York where I was paid twice as much and worked double the hours. My work quality is better, my clients are happier, and my company is more profitable. Now I don't personally have tattoos and readily put on a suit if that's my client's expectation, but any of the hipster brethren I am lucky to work with know how to empathize with and "fit into" diverse client cultures. I am more productive in this environment because of the intrinsic rewards of my work.
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Guest
+2 #3 HR LadyGuest 2014-06-10 15:45:16
Quoting Guest:
I guess I'm such a dinosaur that I never thought about my workplace...the operative word is WORK...accommodating my juvenile, self centered behavior. Most employers hire people to work, not to discuss "Game of Thrones." As to dress codes, of course depending on the job, this might not be an issue. But as a female professional handling substantial sums of OPM, I suspect our firm's clients would feel a bit more confident of someone wearing businesslike clothing and not sporting piercings, studs, tattoos or clothing reminiscent of Abby in NCIS. Fine for a TV show but not really something appropriate for most work enviornments.


The business world is changing, there are a lot of Millennials entering the working world, and a lot of of "dinosaurs" leaving. Do you also shake your can every time some kid is on your lawn? I believe the writer is saying, "be open to change, it isn't a bad thing"
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Guest
0 #4 RE: Portland: Where young people go to work?Guest 2014-06-10 23:24:51
Quoting Guest:
Quoting Guest:
I guess I'm such a dinosaur that I never thought about my workplace...the operative word is WORK...accommodating my juvenile, self centered behavior. Most employers hire people to work, not to discuss "Game of Thrones." As to dress codes, of course depending on the job, this might not be an issue. But as a female professional handling substantial sums of OPM, I suspect our firm's clients would feel a bit more confident of someone wearing businesslike clothing and not sporting piercings, studs, tattoos or clothing reminiscent of Abby in NCIS. Fine for a TV show but not really something appropriate for most work enviornments.


The business world is changing, there are a lot of Millennials entering the working world, and a lot of of "dinosaurs" leaving. Do you also shake your can every time some kid is on your lawn? I believe the writer is saying, "be open to change, it isn't a bad thing"


Shake my can? What a silly and irrelevant comment. Of course employers should be open to practices that improve employees' productivity but in this environment, the idea that employees should expect his/her boss to indulge in various whims is silly. I assure you there are dozens of applicants for any decent job in this area. It's a competitive world and having seen these same Millennials rise to the occasion when asked, to presume they are all a bunch of silly hipsters, living on their iPhones and hoping to do as little as possible is quite insulting.
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