by Tina Briggs, Marketing Associate at CBRE/NE’s Hartford Office
As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age and subsequently drop out of the workforce, today’s employers are faced with the challenge of filling the holes left by these experienced professionals. However, it’s not as simple as just hiring a replacement. Companies now need to build a foundation upon which to preserve the long-term viability of their organizations. This increasingly means turning to the younger generations, as well as those about to enter the workforce, and embracing these young professionals (YPs) as the future of business.
While many firms already recognize that attracting and hiring YPs is vital to future success, not all understand how to go about this. “YPs are changing consumer trends, and local developers are paying attention,” writes the Alliance’s Julie Daly Meehan in a recent article published by the Hartford Business Journal. Many factors play into it, from the layout and culture of the workplace to the amenities and offerings in the surrounding community. The City of Hartford has already taken the first steps; striving to become a center of “Live, Work, Play” by creating affordable places to live, supporting Hartford-based employers and by providing a variety of places to eat, ways to get around, and fun things to do. With close to 1,000 new market-rate studio and one-bedroom apartments under construction, new restaurants like Panera Bread, Sorella and Ted’s Montana Grill, and new entertainment venues like Spotlight Theaters and Infiniti Music Hall & Bistro on Front Street, as well as reinvented night-life establishments such as The Tavern and The Russian Lady, Hartford is off to a good start. The new housing and retail will make living and working downtown more attractive, but Hartford employers need to take this one step further. Today’s YPs are looking for something different.
A majority of the interns I have mentored over the past several years say there just isn’t much going on in Hartford and opt to start their careers in more “hip” urban locales such as Boston and New York. We need to change this mentality, and I think Hartford has the potential to be a place where YPs want to be. If Hartford employers want to attract and retain YPs, they need not only to support economic-based initiatives to expand the “Live, Work, Play” concept, but they need to provide a working environment that is on par with the YP mindset. YPs are looking for a modern, bright and open workspace, in addition to incentives like free or subsidized parking, competitive salaries, affordable places to eat lunch and things to do after work. They also want to be valued for their ideas and seem to work best in a collaborative environment. Employers can achieve this by adapting to create a culture where openness, sharing and creativity are welcomed, and by providing opportunities where socially active, community-driven YPs will excel.