The millennial generation cannot be ignored: they are your employees, your customers and may even be your future employers. When you couple this generational evolution with the unfolding digital transformation, you see the heady mix that is transforming business models and activities.
For the millennial generation, work is what they do, not where they go. Rigid corporate structures are limiting factors that stifle creativity and innovation. Organizations have plenty of opportunities to learn from this digitally savvy generation.
What are some of the areas that millennials will be more comfortable with and how can organizations provide them with the wherewithal to execute their job efficiently?
What the Millennial Employee Expects
Streamlined Information Experience
Employees are overloaded with information that comes from multiple channels including mobile phones, social networks, emails, etc. A recent USC Marshall School study predicted that by 2015, Americans will be bombarded with 74 GB of information each day. Their mobile messaging usage will increase by more than 27 percent, and their Internet video usage will increase by 24 percent a year to over 11 hours a month.
Millennials need organizations to provide them the platforms and tools that will help them streamline experiences, to glean insights from this information, and enable them to get their work done quickly and efficiently. Organizations should consider social collaboration platforms like Jive or Yammer to create faster information exchange and reduce email usage.
Multitask their Work
Gone are the days when an employee was required to do only a single task or activity at any given time. Businesses expect individuals to multitask, and drive more value out of their effort and time.
Multitasking is a way of life for millennials. In any instance, you will find a millennial using two to three different devices. Although “attention spans” and “quality of work done” are being questioned, millennials have embraced multitasking and flaunt their capabilities to juggle multiple activities/tasks. For businesses, this behavioral trait may be a challenge and at the same time an opportunity to make the most of this generation’s multitasking focus and abilities. Multiple assignments or special challenging projects over and above their regular work assignments can be some of the examples to leverage multitasking skills.
Provide a Digital Workplace
Millennials have a richer experience at their home office than they do in their work environment. At home, high computing power, unrestricted access to the Internet, flexibility with which mobile devices to use, desktop video conferencing and chat are readily available.
A key step in engaging millennial workers is to transform their antiquated work environments into a digital workplace that provides the tools and environment to be productive, and to get their work with least hassles and obstacles. Organizations can achieve this by embracing “BYO” policies that allow employees to not only use their own mobile devices but also use their favorite applications and cloud storage mechanisms.
Facilitate Collaboration, Interactivity, Knowledge Sharing
It's not unusual to see a corporate environment where the majority of an employee’s work time is spent in meetings, conference calls or responding to email. For many, these activities define work. But how effective is this?
Studies have shown that collaboration tools can help reduce email volumes by 30 percent and make it 33 percent faster for teams to draft documents. According to one study, 97 percent of businesses using social software said they could service more clients, more efficiently. Social technologies can also provide the right platform to build a strong employee collaboration and knowledge sharing environment.
In most employee surveys, lack of consistent communication is still cited by employees as a key frustration which leads to lack of engagement. Millennials expect transparency, and need constant motivation to realize their full potential. An internal social business platform would enable a vibrant cross-organizational connection as well as increase the level of employee engagement.
Gamify the Work Culture
Gaming is something millennials grew up with. By age 21, the average Millennial has spent over 10,000 hours playing video games. Their brains have developed with a challenge/achievement orientation. Organizations can use the construct of gaming to influence behaviors and drive outcomes.
Creating gamification platforms for your HR, training, sales, development and customer service functions is a way to excite and challenge their competitive spirit resulting in better engagement and achievement of business objectives. Organizations that are successful in engaging employees see a 240 percent increase in performance-related outcomes according to a 2013 Gallup Poll.
Foster a Culture of Innovation
Organizations that consistently create game changing products or solutions for customers or employees have successfully fostered an environment and culture around innovation. In these environments, employees are encouraged to explore new ideas, are rewarded for risk taking, are embraced when they fail, are encouraged to work autonomously and are part of a diverse working environment. Using crowdsourcing concepts that combine the power of social ideation with the gamification of behavior through a reward and achievement loop can be an ideal way for enterprises to build, connect and make the most of the creative and experiential potential of the millennial worker.
Enable Peer Recognition and Appreciation
In order to motivate a millennial team to perform at their peak, you must understand their perspectives and their motivational biases. Millennials grew up in an environment of instant gratification that provided frequent encouragement and reinforcement of behavior. Employers should embrace this and provide a variety of avenues to provide feedback and connections within team members. Connections that allow peer-to-peer recognition, result-based recognition, and social recognition will create an effective culture of recognition by embracing openness and sharing both in your workforce and in the market overall. These internal employee recognition platforms can build the right environment for rewarding and recognize co-worker’s contributions.
Strengthen Employee Engagement
Transforming to a digital workplace should be at the top of enterprise's agenda. It will not be an overnight journey. First and foremost it is important to envision the future of your workplace and evaluate how to leverage technologies to change the dynamics of your workforce. Transformation requires time, but a steady focus and commitment in implementing this paradigm can lead to increased collaboration, higher productivity and stronger employee engagement.