Blog Post

Supporting Millenials in the workplace

There’s a shift happening in the workplace. A significant and growing proportion of the working population is now made up of “Millennials” (also known as Generation Y, and often defined as people born between 1982 and 2001). Millenials tend to be tech-savvy, raised with ever-present mobile phones, ubiquitous online access and social media. But how can businesses support Millenials at work; how do they expect to communicate, collaborate and get things done? A new report over on GigaOM Pro (subscription required), Millennials in the enterprise: strategies for supporting the new digital workforce, surveyed Millennials about their use of technology at work, with a particular focus on how they communicate and learn and what they expect in regards to technology support. Analyst David Card examined Millennials’ attitudes and behavior regarding communication means and preferences, their approach to solving problems and their mobile and after-hours work habits.

One interesting characteristic of Millenials noted in the report is that they tend to rely on their own resources and network of friends or colleagues to try and solve problems before going down the official support path. This is an important point to note for IT departments that need to support Millemials: they are prime candidates both for self- help solutions and for collaborative problem-solving and training. As Card explains, “Forward-thinking IT managers will gear solutions and policies around those concepts, and engineer FAQs or self-help portals that behave like search, social networks or forums.”

The report also looks into Millenials’ use of technology. Unsurprisingly for a generation that grew up with mobile phones and ubiquitous Internet access, it found that Millennials use mobile and home devices for work, and that significant numbers of Millennials work at least part of the time from home, are extremely mobile and like to use their preferred choice of devices. Forward-thinking companies can boost employee satisfaction by respecting their preferred choice of devices; the report notes that a quarter of Millennials said the type of devices supplied by employers strongly affected their job satisfaction, and nearly half said it had at least some influence.

To get the full report, head over to GigaOM Pro (a subscription is required, but a free trial is available). Card’s report is actually only the first of two parts; it will be interesting to read the second part, which will examine how prepared corporate IT departments are to cater for the needs of their growing ranks of Millennial employees.

2 Responses to “Supporting Millenials in the workplace”

  1. AliciaBlain

    Great article, Simon. As a former Fortune 500 IT executive, I began hiring Gen Ys since 2002. At first, like many leaders today, I was very frustrated with them but then I decided I needed to figure them out and turned my team into a lab and put Gen Y under the microscorpe. I saw firsthand how industrious Millennials were in solving technical problems not only those that worked in my team but those that worked in the business units as well. Their collaborative approach to solving problems really made a difference in how quickly and creatively solutions were found. This led me to question and ultimately change how I ran my IT unit. One of the many changes I made was to identify Gen Y IT advocates in each of the business units and they worked with my IT team in solving problems and offering new ideas and solutions. I would not have been able to leverage those ideas if I had continued to run IT the way it’s typically run in most organizations. My experience showed me that IT leaders need to break away from the traditional way they run their teams and foster collaboration and experimentation from Gen Ys across the organization.

    One more point that validates your research. This past year, I interivewed Gen Ys who had been working in organizations from 1 to 5 years and actually wrote a book on the results of the interview results. Almost 80% of them told me their corporate experience was “underwhelming” and most were disengaged at work. They cited the top 5 reasons for their disengagement and reason #4 was outdated technology and an inability to leverage their preferred applications and devices to solve a problem.

    Companies are leaving a lot of talent on the table when they don’t find ways to include Millennials in the IT discussion.

    Thank you for raising the issue adn I look forward to reading the full report.

  2. Interesting… I wonder if this makes millenials better-suited for web work than others. I guess, with Google Plus creating a nice virtual hangout, web working can be an ultimate heaven these days. I might be wrong..