Today there are about 80 million millennials in the US, with about half in the workforce, according to Dan Schawbel. These millennials have grown up with computers, software, the internet, intelligent devices and constant connectivity. Time magazine reports that for new 20-something workers, the line between work and home doesn’t really exist. They just want to spend their time in meaningful and useful ways, no matter where they are.
As these Millennials, approximately 4 million, enter the US workforce each year they are quickly becoming an integral part of the workforce. These millennials are driving new expectations of work and business software. They approach business software through a consumer lens; they expect simplicity and instant results. In their personal lives it’s incredibly easy to find people and information that they need through search engines and social networks. This millennial generation have grown up texting and with social media. They want to quickly and easily ask questions, find expertise, keep up to date on events that affect their life and have their achievements recognised. They expect business software that enables them to connect, communicate and collaborate as easily as they do via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Millennials are used to working in groups and collaborating – they have been doing it since primary school. Companies need to rethink the way that their employees work, making changes that will accommodate the unique work desires of the millennial generation. What’s in it for companies? They will increase employee performance by reducing turnover and have happier, more productive employees. For example Best Buy launched the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) programme, where employees in participating departments are allowed to work virtually anywhere, anytime, as long as they successfully complete their assignments on time. This shift increased productivity 41% at headquarters and decreased turnover by as much as 90%, according to Ferris’ Four Hour Work Week.
Think about your own company. When was the last time that you or someone on your team asked “Who knows about X?” How much time did you spend looking for said person? Expertise location is the most common reason for implementing social computing solutions. The time spent trying to find a subject matter expert within your company is expensive. And having multiple workers solving the same kinds of problems without the knowledge of a subject matter expert can be even more expensive. Communities of users are also very effective for providing an assessment of credibility. Just like the seller ratings on eBay provide a quite accurate tool for assessing the seller’s authenticity, explicit or implied credibility ratings in a social computing tool spotlight expertise.
So the question is, how can companies attract and keep millennial employees? Make sure that these millennials are truly engaged with each other and feel like their voice is heard and can have an impact. Also give employees a voice and allow them to interact in real-time no matter where they are located. Let your employees initiate communication from any application using whatever form of communication is best – and quickly – using any/all of instant messaging, voice or application sharing. This will allow you to drive your business results as well as attract and retain millennials.
Your businesses can take advantage of powerful social technologies that your workers, especially the millennials, are probably already familiar with and using to share information and communicate. Social media has the potential to unite increasingly dispersed organisations and bridge the gaps in a multigenerational workforce. And the technology enables businesses to interact with customers rather than simply talking to them—taking business communications from marketing messages to conversations and relationships.