“Millennials” is buzzing in the world of words at the moment, and is the kind of term that can evoke a variety of emotions, ranging from confusion, outrage, and misunderstanding. Plenty of content and data is out there which explains the woes that this generation face in the workplace and beyond, with the biggest question being; what do Millennials actually want from their career?
So who are Millennials?
“Millennials” describe the generation of people born between 1980 and 1994, successors to Generation X (born between the early 1960s and the early 1980s), and before that the Baby Boomers of post-World War II. Millennials are typically shaped around technology, with those born in the latter years only just aware of a time when the internet wasn’t all-consuming. During this generation, technological advancements were profound, with multiple devices rapidly converging into single hand-held sources of smartphone entertainment. Expectations around technology are high, where Millennials simply won’t be happy if it doesn’t work how it should.
It’s a well-known truth that each generation will be a little bit bewildered by the issues that face the next, and no doubt Millennials will despair over Generation Z once they come of age. But it’s vital that generations work together to understand what makes them tick, so that unhelpful assumptions are avoided, and empathy and a sense of community are promoted.
Last year marked the first time that Millennials surpassed Generation X as the largest proportion in the workforce. In 2016, three generations have an almost equal prominence in the workplace, so it’s essential now more than ever that Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials are aware of the different ways they like to work.
So the question is; what do Millennials want in the workplace?
Being the new kids on the block, understanding the needs of Millennials is unfamiliar territory, but it doesn’t need to be difficult. Having a natural affinity with technology, it seems intuitive to speak the same language and utilise technology to connect with Millennials, and a digital workplace is a perfect place to start. Understanding what Millennials expect from their career is the first step, and a digital workplace can help turn expectations into reality:
This generation are all about collaboration in the workplace; traditional management hierarchies are no more, with some companies like Buffer doing away with top management altogether! Whilst this may be unrealistic or untenable in most companies, adapting processes to focus more on collaboration and less on forced direction can be a great way to accommodate different ways of working.
A digital workplace fosters productive collaboration between multiple teams, and there are plenty of tools to choose from that can help. Ranging from intranet forums, corporate social networking, social project management, knowledge base apps, and blogging platforms, there are an abundance of tools that can get people working together and sparking innovation.
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Millennials want flexibility; they don’t want to be tied to a desk from 9-5 just to fulfil arbitrary presenteeism. They’ve discovered that they can be more productive working in an environment in which they feel comfortable, whether that be at home, in a café, or on the beach (as long as there’s Wi-Fi!) A digital workplace means that tasks can be completed anywhere and at any time, allowing for complete flexibility for asynchronous working patterns.
Saving time on small tasks
Saving time on the little things is perhaps something every generation can understand; who wants to spend ages on a tedious task that drains precious time, which could be better used on something else? Unfortunately, due to archaic policies or outdated software, this is still happening, and having a profound effect on Millennials.
A study by TriNet found that business expenses that are not paid promptly by the company are affecting Millennials’ personal finances, in some cases preventing them from paying bills. Slow administration processes and old reporting software means that Millennials are having to wait far too long to be reimbursed for vital professional development opportunities, such as training courses, conferences, and business travel. This, understandably, leads to Millennials considering other jobs, so ensuring that the tools available to submit expenses quickly and efficiently is paramount. A digital workplace includes a simple and intuitive expense management app, so losing employees to outdated and time consuming processes should no longer be an excuse.
Values are incredibly important
Millennials tend to place a huge importance on values, with a greater awareness of ethical and political issues that affect the wider community. This can affect this generation’s career choices, where they will choose a company that supports their beliefs and values.
From a company’s point of view, communicating those values is a vital part of the internal comms strategy, and a digital workplace makes this incredibly easy. With a variety of communication tools, such as intranet news, blogs, announcements, and customisable department pages, broadcasting the company’s values, missions, and beliefs on the digital workplace is a great way of connecting with Millennials.