The workplace is changing. By 2025, 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up of millennials. For employers and business leaders, empathising and engaging with this generation is vital.
We’ve all heard the jokes about entitled millennials with an unhealthy avocado toast obsession. Yet they’re fast becoming an influential presence in the corporate world, with 15 per cent already working in management positions.
A New Way Of Doing Things
Millennials grew up in an era dominated by social media and smartphones. For people in this age bracket, digital technology isn’t disruptive – it’s just par for the course. They expect the same instant access to information and seamless experiences at work. Managers and HR leaders need to consider how to adapt existing practices to engage the younger set without disrupting or excluding other employees.
There are plenty of companies proving the value of speaking to millennial audiences in a new way. The move speaks volumes about the need to consider the unique expectations and interests of young adults in a relevant forum. This year we also saw McDonalds launch ‘snaplications’, allowing young job seekers to apply for a role using Snapchat. While this won’t be the right move for every company (don’t delete your LinkedIn page just yet), it’s a great example of embracing new processes specifically for a younger audience.
Change The Channel
For a generation of avid YouTubers, video is the go-to channel for consuming content. Next time you’re preparing a new employee induction program, consider the fact that nearly 70 per cent of millennials believe they can find a YouTube video to teach them anything they want to learn. Adopting ‘how-to’ video training not only lets companies use the digital language of millennials but allows for greater flexibility, which is another important requirement for this age group. Assigning a new employee a sequence of training videos they can get through at their own speed will be much more effective than sharing an information overload in one training session, likely to be forgotten by their second week.
New graduates coming into the workplace expect that the tools they use at work will mimic the digital platforms they use in their personal life. Nothing has prepared them for the frustration of traversing a maze of folders or using a legacy system that went out of date ten years ago. Using digital channels that make it easy to locate material is key to meeting millennial expectations and will improve productivity across the board. Create a gallery of content that’s easily navigated using keywords and topics, to let employees find all your internal communications, policies and training material in seconds.
Having grown up with social media, millennials are well versed in online conversation and interaction, from reacting to Facebook posts or sharing their innermost feelings on Twitter. Harnessing online tools like comment threads and social engagement will elevate standard corporate exercises like team meetings to more collaborative and interesting experiences. For your CEO’s next announcement, skip the company-wide email. Let’s be honest, few will open it and probably only half of those that do will actually read it. A live-streamed video to offices in different regions lets employees share comments and questions, take part in office polls and see how their co-workers are engaging in real time.
Embracing a millennial mindset doesn’t mean overturning your entire business. Taking small steps like incorporating video, making digital experiences more cohesive and acknowledging the different working style of each employee will help younger workers feel more at ease. With millennials starting to make up a significant amount of the workforce it’s a crucial step to create a positive and productive environment for everyone.
About the author
Nick Whitehead is Head of Marketing at Viostream, the video streaming partner of TEDxSydney andTEDxYouth@Sydney. He is on a mission to help businesses engage their people through live and on-demand video streaming.