In the past, Millennials have been criticised for being lazy employees, lacking in communication skills or generally being too demanding as employees, and not being work savvy. But whether we like it or not, Millennials are coming into the workforce in droves – and they are here to stay.
It is worth remembering that as well as being a new generation of employees, they are also a new generation of customers. They are re-defining the workplace and the market, and if businesses don’t become aware of what changes are taking place then they may ultimately lose out in terms of talented recruits and competitive market share.
Businesses are lagging behind
Companies are not utilising graduates’ skills in technology. A recent IBM survey (2014) found that just 4% of organisations believe they had no issues with implementing new technology. The vast majority said they didn’t deploy them because they didn’t understand the benefits it had to offer, and there was a lack of vision from the top. More than two in five felt their use of technology was not clearly understood and felt held back by out-dated and rigid work styles.
Expectations in the workplace
Speaking about Millennials’ bringing change to the workplace, Jonathan Sharp, sales and marketing director at Britannic Technologies, said: “Millennials have grown up with technology and social media; instant messaging, video and conference calls are all part of their DNA. These vehicles of communication are natural behaviours for them, and companies need to embrace these technologies.”
It was therefore no surprise to discover that 41% of graduates* said they prefer to communicate electronically, rather than face-to-face or via phone.
Millennials expect the technologies that they have grown up with to be present in the workplace – to help them communicate better and do their jobs more effectively. 59% of graduates mentioned that state of the art technology is important to them when considering a job. 78% also said that access to the technology they like to use makes them more effective at work.
Companies need to take the time to understand this generation – how to attract and retain them. They need to take notice of the requests from Millennials, not just because they are demanding the ‘latest and greatest toys’, but also because the technology will improve productivity, communications and customer service.
Tension between generations
Businesses need to be aware of how to manage different generations in the workplace; they have never been so different. There may be tension between the age groups, as the younger generation may want to use the technology available, and the older generations may want to carry on doing things as they have always done. IT and HR departments should work together to ensure that employees are learning and progressing, but at the same time, are comfortable.
To assist with these differences, businesses could also use mentoring and pilot groups. Many organisations are now using ‘reverse mentoring’, where companies team up younger employees with older ones, so they can learn how to utilise technologies and social media.
Businesses need to change their technology roadmap not just for employees but to ensure that they are retaining and attracting customers.
Millennials have been used to seamless shopping experiences online – and instant gratification. If a business doesn’t live up to their immediate expectations, they may take their custom elsewhere. Also bear in mind that they could write negative reports on social media about their experience, which could damage your reputation and brand.
Consider setting corporate guidelines for the use of social media, as it’s important for employees to know what they can and can’t talk about.
Work together to achieve results
It is crucial that departments no longer work in silos and start collaborating together – to maximise each other’s skills, and learn from one another.
Organisations must change to accommodate Millennials as employees and as a new generation of customers. Millennials have the potential to take you on the start of a journey and make changes for the better – and their input and the relevant technology can increase productivity, communications and customer service. So, what are you waiting for?
* Price Waterhouse Coopers Survey 2011