What Can We Learn from the Millennial Mindset?
Millennials are always plugged into something digital - social media, smartphones or apps. Why not make your youngest employees’ comfort with technology work for you and your intranet strategy?
We live in an increasingly “connected” world. Millennials especially have grown up in a culture where they have an app to order pizza and arguments are resolved immediately, with the help of Siri. During their formative years, Millennials witnessed a long period of economic uncertainty, but at the same time, they were the first to grow up with things like Internet, email, and cell phones, which they take for granted. As a result they are well-connected, avid social media users who value community, family, and creativity. While many of us in the workforce don’t have this same experience, there is a lot that we can learn from the “Millennial mindset” – and a lot of ways their approach to the world can benefit our approach to doing business.
The Millennial Approach to Life
Millennials have never known a world that wasn’t linked by digital devices, and the connectedness and immediacy of that world impacts how they choose to interact with it. The connected world is completely normal to them, to the point where digital is the default. For example, The New York Times reports that one twenty-something from California asked if he could identify his recently deceased mother from a photo sent by text. That may sound shocking to us older folks, but the funeral parlor honored his request. Where we might see the request for a texted photo as a disconnect with his mother, Millennials see connection. The fact that the connection is digital doesn’t make it less genuine. It’s a prime example of how young adults are changing the way we do things, and given the way the world is trending, we might all benefit from letting go of our assumptions of what “connection” looks like.
The Connected World at Work
It’s not just the youngsters; everyone is enabled by the Internet of Things. We have thermostats that know when our houses are empty, ibeacons that send messages when a customer enters the store, and apps like Amazon that make things appear as if by magic. But for some reason, all this stops at the gate of the corporate world. The workplace buzzes with young people, full of energy and inspiration, and it’s all lost in the dinosaur culture of the ‘modern’ office. Millennials want to be connected, engaged, and have a creative outlet for their ideas. Instead they’re met with a clunky old intranet offering a one-way flow of information. They want to be social, share ideas, and collaborate on projects. Working remotely with colleagues across countries, borders and time zones comes easily to this new generation. They are used to having an online relationship with people they have never met. Furthermore, they do it across devices, starting a conversation on a PC, picking it up on a smartphone and concluding by iPad – it’s all seamless. If a corporate intranet could do that, imagine how much untapped potential could be released in terms of productivity – from Millennials and from the rest of us?
Go with the Flow
It’s tempting to push the younger folks into the old ways, because it’s worked out all right so far, but think about it for a moment - are the fax machines and typewriters that were commonplace not so long ago still around? Those embracing progress and efficiency should be welcomed and encouraged. The demands of the workforce are changing, and it’s time to step up. Imagine a workplace powered by a synergistic intranet that works on mobile platforms as well. It’s the ‘no one left behind’ approach to internal communication that anyone with a smartphone can access. Retailers can reach staff on the sales floor, oil companies can communicate with the most remote field workers, and airlines can stay in touch with airborne employees all the time. This isn’t the future, it’s now, and it’s called Unily.