Why should businesses care about what millennials want from their employers? Millennials, the generation of 18-35-year-olds, are projected to make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce within the next 15 years (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Whether working for a small to medium-size business (SMB) or in a larger enterprise, millennials typically don’t stay in the same job for long. The majority of these young workers leave a position within three years; and research indicates it costs between $15,000 and $25,000 to replace each worker. With that much on the line, a company’s ability to recruit and retain millennials is imperative. Technology – even your business phone system – can make a big difference in keeping millennials onboard and engaged.
A big part of keeping millennials is to create a work environment in which they have the opportunity to thrive. This involves understanding what their values and preferences are when it comes to where and how they prefer to work. Business owners and managers should look for ways to adapt their business communications to meet the needs of this emerging “always on, always connected” generation. At Digium, around 40 percent of our team members are millennials (myself included!), so we’ve truly seen the challenges and rewards of supporting the millennial mindset – and we understand the role Unified Communications (UC) plays in keeping this generation of workers connected.
Millennials Want Open Communications and Regular Feedback
While earlier generations of managers may think, “no news is good news,” millennials have more of a “no news is bad news” mentality. In fact, millennials prefer feedback 50 percent more often than other employees. One way to embrace this is to use UC reporting tools to track individual and group performance, such as call logs and CRM reports. Get in the habit of meeting regularly with employees to go over the results and discuss how things are going. Checking in with your millennials on a regular basis also provides an opportunity to uncover any questions, concerns, and ideas in a timely manner. It’s part of the millennials need for instant gratification.
Millennials Want Flexibility
According to a survey of over 9,700 millennials by accounting firm Ernst & Young, this generation is the most likely to say that they would change jobs or careers, move their family to another place, or take a pay cut to have flexibility and the ability to better manage work and family life. In fact, over 66 percent quit their jobs because they had a boss that didn’t allow for flexibility.
With all the available collaboration tools and cloud-based solutions and apps, together with the advancements in mobility, projects and tasks can be completed from almost anywhere. The ability to work remotely, and being able to use your personal mobile devices of choice (part of the growing Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD trend) makes it easier for companies to offer the flexibility millennials desire. Consider creating a formal telecommunications/BYOD policy for your company, and allow certain employees to work from home one or two days a week (for a detailed description of tools and programs for managing remote workers, read the article Managing Remote Workers: Not ‘Just’ a Job for IT.)
Along with flexibility, millennials also view a good work/life balance as being very important. These “always on” workers still need to be able to separate work life from home life. To address this, many companies are implementing softphones for remote workers and sales teams. Apps like these provide employees with secure access to all of their UC features available on a desk phone, while protecting their personal contact information. When an employee makes a business call using the softphone app, the recipient sees only the business’s information, not their personal mobile number.
Accommodating flexible work schedules and the seamless transition between work devices is a must for a millennial-friendly work environment, and goes a long way to help improve productivity from all employees.
Millennials Want to Collaborate
A recent study shows that a culture of collaboration is one of the top things millennials are looking for in an employer. This can be everything from having an open, team-based working style to sharing and interacting via streaming video. In supporting the collaborative nature of millennials, it’s important to understand that while they aren’t necessarily more communicative than other generations, they do communicate differently. For example, millennials embrace social media tools in the consumer world and in the workplace. If you aren’t allowing the use of social media at work, 56 percent of millennials don’t want to work for you. When it comes to problem solving, if a complex question comes up or they need something explained, sure, they will pick up the phone, but for simple and quick exchanges among coworkers, it’s not their first instinct. Millennials prefer working with modern UC tools such as conferencing, instant messaging, and video calling. Offering these types of tools for quick and easy communications is a great way to keep millennials responsive, and it helps increase your organization’s overall efficiency, too.
As the generation that represents the largest, rising segment of employees in the workforce, it’s in an organization’s best interest to learn what attracts, motivates, and retains millennials. The ‘nice-to-have’ technologies are now the ‘need-to-have’ technologies as modern UC systems are evolving to meet the communications needs of multi-generational workforces.
Don’t let aging communications solutions give employees reason to question your ability to be a company worth working for.