Technology, especially mobile technology, is an everyday necessity for Millennials in the workplace, and businesses are adapting
Technology in the hands of young people has made life easier, but also more complex. President and CEO of Intuit Inc, Brad D. Smith, said, “Millennials, and the generations that follow, are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation. And they don’t question. They just learn.”
With this perspective, Millennials in workplaces just abhor the expression, “Well, that’s how we’ve always done it.” Businesses have realized they need to change their way of functioning, if they want to attract and retain tech-driven Millennials. Known as the “least engaged generation in the workplace,” a Gallup report finds that 60% of Millennials are open to new jobs. If the environment in the workplace does not meet with their requirements, Millennials have no qualms about changing jobs. Job-hopping in this manner, costs the US economy $30.5 billion a year.
Having analyzed the psyche of Millennials, many companies today have adapted to their way of thinking with low-tech changes like paid time off to allow for work-life balance, offering flex-time and remote work opportunities to bring in a flexible work environment, and paid volunteer time off so employees will derive greater satisfaction from their jobs. These generous changes have enhanced the attractiveness of many workplaces.
Despite being wooed by these positive strategies, Millennials have no use for company cultures that do not embrace technology. Jeff Corbin, CEO and founder of mobile communication apps provider, APPrise Mobile, observes how Millennials have brought change into business communications. He says, “There is definitely a shift taking place from ‘old school’ and legacy communications solutions like email and corporate intranets to newer, more mobile friendly tools.” This includes call tracking software. Furthermore, with their passion for transparency and love of instant feedback, Millennial managers use productivity apps to measure real-time employee performance, instantly establishing new goals, praising accomplishments and rectifying mistakes.
The 2016 Digital Workplace Communications Survey carried out by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Employee Communications Section and APPrise Mobile found that even though communication is considered critical by most businesses, they are lagging behind in adopting technology for communications. When Millennials join these companies, they expect the employer to reciprocate and make available to them, the latest in technology, so they could engage in their jobs more meaningfully. However, as Jeff Corbin says, it is hard to get an entire company onboard with new communications tools. Therefore, he says, “You can expect your millennial employees to be frustrated with older, legacy systems that lack speed and a modern touch.”
Employers, in order to retain smart employees, are pushed to prioritize tech options according to what is important to Millennials, and at least make some changes, when extensive change is impractical. In the habit of multi-tasking since their teen years, Millennials mostly put the software to good use, for prompt completion of their job responsibilities.
As companies adopt technology, they realize that the new way of working renders earlier work practices obsolete. For instance, automating workflow and allowing employees the use of speedy communication channels like Instant Messaging (IM), Slack and Hangouts, reduces the need of a 9-to-5 job and being tied to the office desk for a whole working day. Employees can, as easily, get the work done remotely, a concept unheard of in the workplace in earlier times. And businesses have realized that Millennials value flexibility, empowerment and remote work, and that they respond better to text messages than to phone calls. Being used to instant gratification, Millennials are not willing to wait patiently for a couple of hours for a colleague to reply an email. Instead, they will send an Instant Message (IM), get a response back within seconds, and respond to the response within seconds. As media and social futurist, Mal Fletcher, said, “Millennials expect to create a better future, using the collaborative power of digital technology.” A recent Microsoft survey found four secrets to retain Millennial talent in the workplace – create a culture of collaboration, offer the latest technology, keep data safe and have a strong purpose. Also, recent Gallup research found that while Millennials’ have reduced monthly average phone time by 1200 minutes, the number of text messages doubled from 600 to over 1400 a month.
And so, Millennials not only expect change, they make the change happen because they are the catalyst for change. Uneasy with cumbersome and inflexible corporate structures, they seek rapid results, with constant feedback, and company cultures are gradually changing to accommodate these novel perspectives.
As Senior lecturer of Computer Information Systems at Bentley University, Mark Frydenberg, said, “Social media keeps growing and people chase the latest and greatest. That is the game of it in the world we live in. I don’t think you can go backward.” And a Millennial observed “Mobile technology is the generation’s lifeblood.”