Technology: The Key To Cultivating Millennial TalentIn the professional world, Millennials are starting to get a bad rap. They’re being labeled as difficult to manage, impractical, and disloyal to employers.
“They want the corner office and a company car, but they aren’t truly committed to their organization,” wrote Strategy+Business’s Jennifer J. Deal about the perception of Millennials. “They don’t take kindly to criticism, but can easily be won over with the next hot gadget.”
These perspectives overlook the value that Millennials bring to the workforce.
“Millennials are curious, willing to learn, creative, and bring great energy to an office environment,” said Jeanne Heydecker, senior vice president at talent-matchmaking firm iPlace Connect. “They are better suited to risky ventures and are more flexible in handling change than Gen X and late boomers.”
And they’re not going anywhere. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2030. Instead of stereotyping young employees, organizations need to build Millennial-friendly cultures that foster innovation and talent.
Invest in technology that keeps teams talking
Millennials are accustomed to immediate and steady access to information, and that affects the way they work.
“Twenty-somethings don’t sit on the couch in the evenings completely engrossed in a TV show the way their grandparents might be,” explained Brian Porrell, manager of HR contract staffing at WinterWyman. “These Gen-Y consumers are texting, surfing the Internet, sending emails, and playing Candy Crush while enjoying their favorite television broadcasts.”
Clearly, Millennials crave constant communication.
“Millennials can’t be ignored or left alone,” explained Porrell. “They’re not going to put their heads down and work consistently until annual review time rolls around again. They need to know that the work they are doing matters.”
Performance management solutions like 15Five support that new kind of communication between management and employees. While most HR technology prioritizes quarterly, semi-annual, or annual reviews, 15Five adapts to the Millennial mind-set by making it easy for them to get regular feedback.
“This is a product of the online generation that is used to a constant stream of approvals and commentary via social media,” said Isaac Tolpin, founder at a management services company called Choose Growth. “Millennials like to know how they’re doing on a regular basis, so annual and even semi-annual performance reviews won’t be enough for them.”
Support flexible schedules
Millennials believe that they can get more done when they’re comfortable, and they’re accustomed to working from anywhere.
“Millennials value a flexible environment that allows them to be themselves. This includes everything from casual dress codes to flex-time and telecommuting,” explained Tolpin. “Millennials don’t believe a tie or structured schedule will make them more productive.”
Killing work-from-home programs is not the solution. Organization should instead invest in technology that keeps team members productive from any location. This includes VPNs, portable devices, inter-office communication software, and video chat.
“Millennials value flexibility and autonomy,” said Gina Luttrell, PhD, professor of public relations and social media at Eastern Michigan University. “They see flexibility and autonomy in the workplace as a sign of respect—that they are respected and trusted and can complete tasks without someone watching over their shoulder.”
Give Millennials a say in technology
Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with computers and the Internet. They have an intricate and intimate understanding of user experience. That’s why they become frustrated when forced to use clunky, outdated technology.
“Young professionals will reject software solutions that are more difficult to use than the applications they use in their personal lives,” said Bill Poston, managing partner of Kalypso. ”Trying to enforce outdated software standards will drive away valuable talent.”
Recruit Millennials to help build these talent management solutions. Make them a core part in your organization’s technology conversation. After all, they know their needs better than anyone.
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