Are We Ready to Welcome a New Generation of Employees in the Workplace?
Posted by Edo-Jan Meijer
They grew up with the Internet and are entering the labor market; as we saw in a previous blog post. The digital habits of Millennials are quite different from those of older generations. What do these differences look like, and how can we use this to our advantage?
First of all it is important to avoid forcing this generation to stick to the habits of older generations, as we saw in the previous blog post (like judging their digital skills by assessing how well they manage email). Instead we need to look at how they work with technology: there is a lot we can learn from them.
Let's learn from this generation, and then come up with solutions that allow us to do better and them to integrate seamlessly into day-to-day business.
In the first place, it is important to note that the behavior of this generation is not dependent on a region, country or continent. For the first time in history, thanks to the Internet, one single generation shows the same behavior on a global scale, give or take a few regionally specific elements. They roughly share the same ideas across borders, but for instance in China they tend to work faster than in Europe or the US. The differences that still exist can largely be explained by the difference in their parents’ behavior, who are very important to this generation.
The influence of their parents becomes evident from the behavior of what is sometimes referred to as ‘trophy kids’; those that are pampered during their upbringing, parents were very keen to give them all they needed. At an adult age this often manifests itself in a struggle to make choices; a fear of failure. Therefore, proper training and rapid promotions are important. They want to achieve their goals and dreams as quickly as possible, there is no time to lose. This also means that they are more likely to switch jobs to get another rung up the ladder.
If there is one thing this generation hates, it’s rigid systems; this applies to both software and operational processes and structures. They are very easily bored, which makes it very important to keep them motivated by challenging them and communicating in an open and transparent way when it comes to achieving promotions.
What does all this mean for the way software should be developed and used? One thing that is indisputable is that we need to make software more intuitive. Software should be simple to use; the new generation of workers easily gets frustrated and bored when faced with complex, rigid systems. Additionally induction periods for joiners should be as short as possible; the faster they are able to work with software, the better.
Software should also help them to continue to develop; not through elaborate texts and handbooks, but via video, game elements, wikis and personal mentors. The social aspect of software is also vital, since digital natives are used to being in touch with peers always and everywhere through social media. The more business software can enable and stimulate (international) collaboration, the better.
Millennials are keen to move up the career ladder quickly. They need to be challenged and to work in an environment with a lot of diversity while having fun at the same time. Business software can go a long way to making that happen; but only if organizations are willing to invest and evolve to meet the needs of a diverse workforce.