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movementOffice culture has changed considerably in recent years with a shift in lifestyles, rising expectations and a move in people’s needs and values all contributing to a significantly different workplace than ten or even five years ago. To take one example, two thirds of UK employees today claim they would change jobs to increase their job satisfaction, while fewer than half see pay as a primary motivator. This trend has been accelerated in recent years by the distinct ‘millennials’ group entering the workforce – a cohort with distinct values and interests.

Millennials will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020 and is, as a generalisation, a demanding group in terms of what they are looking for from a working environment. With their growing presence in today’s offices, recognising the importance of this group and catering to it will prove critical to the future of businesses. At hungryhouse, we have an average age of 27 and our HR focus is therefore heavily focused on recognising what makes younger workers distinct and setting out how to build engagement with them. Ultimately, getting this right is good for everyone, with ORC research showing that engaged employees are more productive, are generally happier and tend to stay in their job for longer.

Planning for a new workforce

At hungryhouse, we have built an approach specific to our millennial culture and workforce to drive employee engagement. Our three step approach incorporates practical and theory to build a programme orientated to the needs of our entrepreneurial millennials.

#1: The bigger picture
Before making assumptions about our young workforce, we took a step back and surveyed all staff about their working habits and priorities. Having this information is critical to delivering the right HR programmes, and by refreshing this survey every six months we make sure that this stays relevant and up to date as our company evolves.

#2: What drives individuals
To find out what drives our staff, we utilised Daniel Pink’s Motivation Trifecta theory based on ‘autonomy’, ‘mastery’ and ‘purpose’. This intrinsic concept is based on what drives, engages and stimulates employees to do their best work, and we put this theory into practice at hungryhouse.

Autonomy means helping employees with their own progress through encouragement, feedback and control over aspects of their work. We have addressed this by developing a feedback system with relevant questions for millennials such as future career aspirations to allow them to voice any issues or concerns, which is important to reduce staff turnover, increase productivity and profits. We use an external company called Culture Amp to ensure it remains impartial and to the results.

Mastery is about calibration and recognising what employees must do by realising what they can do. We understand that training is essential to our success and coincidently millennials crave this to assist in building their careers. We have a thorough schedule in place to ensure all employees are equipped with the right knowledge to understand and executive their position. At hungryhouse we also run 101 sessions to introduce and explain important business functions to our employees to ensure we are aligned with the hungryhouse’s strategy and understand wider issues that affect the industry. These sessions include finding out what is involved in the design product process, how we earn our money and what certain teams do.

Purpose is about employees finding and understanding the need for what they do, which when achieved, is the deepest motivator. Our entrepreneurial vision means that wherever possible, it offers our employees opportunities to progress in different areas of the business that they are interested in, relevant to their interests and skills. We have discovered that this fuels our millennial workforce to become even more entrepreneurial and work harder. Jordan Lunetta, Mobile Product Owner: “With the entrepreneurial spirit that’s ingrained in the hungryhouse DNA, I’m learning what it takes to build a truly great business and deliver the most value to our customers.”

At hungryhouse we also operate a rewards programme and incentives to recognise the hard work of our employees and drive morale and increase job satisfaction. One way we motivate our employees is with our busy social calendar which provides Friday beers and yoga classes to allow our employees free extra-curricular activities to look forward to.

#3: How to create the right environment

By applying each of Daniel Pink’s motivation factors and linking this to our millennial workforce, we have been able to create the right environment for our employees underpinned by our entrepreneurial vision. We have increased staff retention rates and our recent feedback survey also displayed higher than average job satisfaction rates at hungryhouse.

The new wave of millennials in the workplace poses challenges for employers, but there are obvious advantages to engaging a tech-savvy and enthusiastic group. Companies need to understand millenials and ensure they are putting the policies in place to keep them engaged. For most workplaces this will have to balance against other groups, but getting it right will remain central to success.


Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.

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