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Technology & The Millennial Generation

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  • 1. S L A L O M W O R K S A Divi si on of S la l om C on su lti ng Technology & The Millennial GenerationAligning Technology to meet the demands of an up and coming work force Prepared by Daniel Maycock, Slalom Consultant danielm@slalom.com • 821 2nd Avenue, Suite 1900, Seattle, WA 98104 • www.slalom.com
  • 2. IntroductionThe population born between 1980 & 1995, known as the Millennial generation, are quick-ly becoming a force to be reckoned with, within every work place in the US. The growingtide of roughly 80 million members (larger than the baby boomer generation) are becom-ing the fastest growing population of employees in companies all over the US. As more babyboomers retire, and give way to new hires, the Millennial generation will not only shape theworkplace but will also bring about changes in everything to benefits to how companiessupport and adopt technology. How can companies adapt to handle this change in corpo-rate climate? More importantly, how can changes being made to accommodate a generationused to being connected 24-7, and more concerned about work/life balance than any gen-eration prior? This paper hopes to address some of the concerns facing companies dealingwith these questions, and offer up recommendations on both considerations to adapt toMillennials as well as technology solutions that can help the workplace, as well as the em-ployees, work together in a more productive and enriching fashion. The SituationCompanies are quickly falling into a disruptive cycle, that looks to change every aspect oftheir business. Corporations have largely remained unchanged in the way they handlebusiness since the 1950’s, even in the midst of the various technology revolutions that haveswept through corporate America over the last several years. Org trees, cubicles, and week-ly team meetings have become as much a mainstay in corporate America as the bad coffeein the break rooms and gossip that occurs at water coolers throughout the US. Thoughbusiness has become more travel-intensive, with people getting more connected morequickly, power points and meeting driven projects have replaced what overhead projectorsand office workshops once were.With what’s occurring now with rise in Millennials however, corporations are spendingupwards of 50 billion dollars a year to create incentives, offer free perks, and break downtraditional hierarchies to appease the needs of younger, more driven employees with astrong sense of self worth, raised in a generation where Mr. Rogers taught you were specialsimply for showing up, and sports teams where everyone got a trophy since everyone wasa winner. This has bred young workers to gain a sense of self entitlement, feeling as if theyare prized commodities with more options than limitations, and can demand work conformto their terms or they’ll walk to a job with better pay and recognition. Where employeesused to stay at a company for their entire career and sacrifice for the corporate good, amanager would be lucky to find a Millennial in the same company, let alone same job, 3-4years from when they started. They’re willing to spend time figuring out what fits thembest, and are not only spending more time in college trying out degrees, but will more thanlikely be non-committal on a given career path until well into their late 20’s.SlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Enterprise Mobile Strategy Offering 1
  • 3. In this case, the question for corporate America then becomes, how can a company adapt ina smart and cost-effective way without becoming too complacent and reminding everyonethey still have a job to do at the end of the day? There are many factors to consider, in anincreasingly complex scenario. This paper hopes to bring up some of these considerations,from a purely technological perspective, and help to draw out some of the questions com-panies should be considering as this trend continues to grow. Factors To ConsiderBelow is a list of factors to consider, based on research being conducted in this space,where companies are currently or soon will implement solutions around technology solu-tions in the next 3-5 years, driven by Millennials in the workplace.Technology-Driven Work styleThe one thing that unites all Millennials the world over, is the need to be constantly con-nected to the bigger world around them, and have all the solutions they use in the course ofa day be driven by digital technology in some form or another. Not only one piece of tech-nology will do though, as most Millennials are connected by a number of different gadgets.From laptops, smart phones, and mp3 players, to eReaders, Touch-enabled white boards,and teleconferencing, Millennials are driven by the ability to integrate everything they dointo not only their own ecosystem but the corporate ecosystem at large.Teamwork-based CollaborationMillennials love to stay not only connected to a constant stream of information and data,but also stay connected with one another. The ability to share, communicate, and discusswhatever it is that’s in front of them, either online or offline, in real time is vital towardsfelling a sense of connectedness and gain a sense of purpose and progress around the workthey’re doing if they can collaborate on that topic with others the world over. This is espe-cially true in team-based projects, where Millennials are very much prone to team workand completely dismissing individual progress over group-based achievement.Social Networking in the WorkplaceMillennials want to stay connected with their team mates, and social networks, throughoutthe entire day. Being able to multitask, focusing on twitter feeds while checking into Face-book, and sharing relevant information on their enterprise-wide Yammer network, is es-sential for maintaining a strong level of productivity as attention spans continue to evolveinto a multi-faceted approach vs more traditional heads down work flows with a single ar-ea of focus.Greater Diversity in Working TeamsSlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Mobile Solutions Criteria 2
  • 4. With the changing culture, greater access to travel, as well as shifting workflows the worldover, Millennials are more prone to embracing experiences that help broaden their aware-ness of other cultures, but also appreciate working on teams with a greater number of peo-ple with different backgrounds, and cultures. As work continues to grow into a worldwidework day, Millennials will continue to expect opportunities to not only work with differentteams on a regular basis but also work in different projects, environments, and locations tocontinue expanding on their cultural understanding.Flexibility in Working Conditions / EnvironmentsWith the growing need to embrace new experiences, Millennials that grew up climbing MtEverest or helping to build homes in third world countries vs spending summers mowinglawns, will expect opportunities to not only have flexible work hours but also flexible worklocations, along with the opportunity to work virtually and not be tied to a single desk orwork environment. Furthermore, flexible work assignments along with ample opportunityfor vertical and horizontal movement is also a growing demand.Emphasis on Social ResponsibilityMillennials grew up in a very social conscious culture, and are therefore very socially awarethemselves. The need to demonstrate Social Responsibility has never been more important.From donation matching, to corporate non-profit events, the need to demonstrate socialresponsibility is fast becoming a requirement on the list of demands for Millennials.Connected Gadgets, Connected EmployeesMillennials are not only connected to more and more technologies, but also have increasingdemands on how sophisticated the technology should be. Consumer technology is beingbrought in greater amounts into the workplace, and there is a strong demand that a per-son’s technology be allowed to interact with their corporate systems, to create a single set otools to interact both at home and at work.Training, Training, and More TrainingAlong with the need to advance and change work assignments, is the need to have ampletraining opportunities to learn and grow existing or new skills. Even though Millennialsgrew up with a strong sense of self-entitlement, it’s also one of the most achievement driv-en generations of all time. The need to keep hungry minds fed, with constant challenges putin front of Millennials, is the secret to keeping this new generation not only hungry, buthappy, and will help drive greater productivity and output as more emphasis is put onpractical training and increasingly challenging work assignments to match up to increas-ingly challenging training activities. Potential SolutionsSlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Enterprise Mobile Strategy Offering 3
  • 5. Based on the factors stated above, here are potential solutions to help address concernsaround technology adoption in the midst of this disruptive corporate trend.Mobile Device StrategyHaving a clear direction & strategy in place on how to handle personal & corporate owneddevices is essential to address the needs of employees to be connected in the simplest waypossible. Access to corporate resources over mobile devices, as well as having the ability touse mobile technology throughout the course of business, should no longer be considered aluxury but instead be considered an essential part of doing business. Having a mobile strat-egy to address concerns such as security, and governance is essential to work towards this.Collaboration Tools & ProgramsHaving tools to not only help Millennial employees keep in touch, but also collaborate in asimple straight forward way will save employees time trying to get older tools to work theway they want them to, but will also help to increase crowd sourcing and collective brain-storming throughout the course of work, as well as create a better sense of belongingthrough established work-driven social networks.Incentive-based Technology Adoption InitiativesBuilding simple incentives, such as free corporate swag, in a competitive fashion is a greatway to help roll out any new solution or communicate a change, as Millennials have astrong need to compete and be recognized accordingly. Not only that, but Millennials quick-ly become advocates for technologies they’re competitively working to promote and/oradopt within their work teams.Digital Workspaces optimized for collaboration & community buildingCreating online work places, such as Share point, that have a heavy emphasis on collabora-tion & community building will not only help to refine solutions with less IT-driven work,but will also help Millennials to gain a greater sense of belonging with the company as thisis the most direct and effective way to help young employees gain a sense of belongingthrough contributing to corporate networks in a collaborative fashion. Adding featuressuch as local community events, or allowing employees to advertise events such as openmic nights, will help draw out employees from all aspects of the company and allow for agreater sense of community while growing input on company-based requests such as sur-veys and employee feedback mechanisms.Virtual Access EnablementSlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Mobile Solutions Criteria 4
  • 6. Allowing employees to work from wherever they’d like, and un-tether them from theirdesk, will offer up a greater sense of flexibility and help to create a culture of self drivenproductivity. Millennials that feel they’re on their own to perform, and make sure they gettheir work done, are more likely to work in difficult circumstances, such as pulling allnighters for a work assignment, vs if they’re mandated to show up during certain hours in aspecific location. Not only that, but it’ll give them a greater sense of flexibility, keeping themin a position or company longer, than if they are forced into a confining and repetitive be-havior. This means in investing in technologies, like remote desk topping or VPN support,to allow for connecting to workplace resources from any where.Investing in Unified CommunicationsAllowing employees to connect on different devices, and be contacted in a streamlinedfashion, can help to not only broaden access and collaboration between employees, but willalso help to support different communication approaches, and support the demand to cus-tomize a work environment around an individuals way of interacting. There is also littletolerance for overly complicated, or cumbersome methods for reaching out to other em-ployees, so developing methods to unify multiple communication methods will help to easeconcerns no matter how or where an employee is being contacted.Digital Workshops / Webcasts for IdeationDeveloping regular methods to get employees more engaged in the product developmentlifecycle will not only help to generate greater brand promotion, but will also help to gaingreater cultural inclusion and draw stronger ties between the company and the employee.Whether it’s an online idea submission form, or regular SkunkWorks projects to get em-ployees sharing ideas they have, it’ll not only feed the need for Millennials to gain a sense ofindividual contribution to a project but also give them a greater sense of belonging. Next StepsDepending on where a company is to date, on technology adoption, size, fiscal year, etc willdepend on how aggressive they can be on pursuing initiatives to help adapt to Millennialemployees. However, at some level, every company can begin to meet at a stakeholder-level to build plans around diversity, and technology adoption to make sure initiatives arealigned with employee retention and recruiting, in light of growing numbers of attrition,through older employees leaving and mid-level employees transitioning in greater num-bers. By addressing these solutions head on, and making a strategy for how to grow solu-tions in a cost-effective manner, companies won’t be caught in a jam when attrition growsbeyond the ability to recruit and retain new employees.SlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Enterprise Mobile Strategy Offering 5
  • 7. ConclusionThough this trend is a growing consideration for companies throughout the world, thereare resources to help companies understand these issues in greater depth and develop aroadmap for adapting to meet greater culture and technology change.Slalom has 100’s of combined years worth of experience in this area, working with compa-nies in a number of different areas, from social networking initiatives to mobile strategies,and can help your company consider some of these factors, as well as create and initiativesthat will not only grow your business in a way that makes sense, but will help to set yourcompany up for long term growth in the years to come.Please reach out to us at http://www.slalom.com and see how we can help your companybecome better prepared for Millennials, and the changes they’ll inevitably bring with them,in the years to come. ReferencesSafer, Morley. “The Millenials are Coming”. CBS. 2008. May 24th, 2011. Retrieved fromhttp://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=3486473nGreen, Aaron. “What do Millennials teach us about the future of the workplace?”. Boston.com.2008. May 24th, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/jobs/on_staffing/051908.shtmlLomas, Natasha. “ITs future: Bring your own PC-tablet-phone to work”. Silicon.com. 2011.May 24th, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.silicon.com/management/cio-insights/2011/05/20/its-future-bring-your-own-pc-tablet-phone-to-work-39747426/Blanchard, Ken. “The Changing Face of Leadership”. Diversity Executive. 2010. May 24th,2011. Retrieved from http://www.diversity-executive.com/article.php?in=984SlalomWorks, a Division of Slalom Consulting Mobile Solutions Criteria 6

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