According to recent research, more than one in three American workers today fall into the classification of Millennials, adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015, and are now the largest segment of the American workforce. As a result of the growth in this segment, Millennials have had a major impact on the way corporations work, especially in the area of collaboration. Millennials have used digital technology their entire lives, with access to widespread Internet and cellular coverage and ever more powerful devices.
When it comes to communication and collaboration, Millennials abhor constraints, and this predilection carries over to the business environment. Millennial workers prefer innovative flexibility, the ability to perform important and interesting jobs, and the opportunity to have their opinions heard. Yet a recent survey showed that almost 71 percent of Millennials claim that they face challenges using their companies’ collaboration tools. In a different study, 38 percent of Millennials said outdated modes of collaboration obstructed their companies’ ability to innovate. So how are Millennials changing workplace collaboration, and what can value-added resellers (VARs) do in order to support their efforts?
What Millennials Want
In business, Millennials prefer chat, online meeting applications, and text for communication and collaboration over older, slower email. They also prefer cloud-based document management solutions so that they can access documents anytime, from anywhere. Because they are constantly engaged with their mobile devices, all communication tools must be mobile. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of employees work remotely at least one day per week. The same study also shows that 60 percent of meetings happening in companies today are virtual. Millennials want collaboration applications that are easy to use and allow for flexible communication, similar to ones they use for personal communication. Millennials grew up working in teams, and this also carries over to the business environment. Good teamwork creates an excellent collaborative environment, so tools that create teamwork are also desirable to this generation. Millennials are also used to sharing their thoughts, loyalties, and opinions and will continue to want to do so in the work environment. The biggest problem with the Millennial generation is that if they are not offered the tools they want and need from their employer, they will go off the grid and use what makes sense to them, causing the company to lose control. As a result, there is no context and no common platform supporting employees as they each use different tools for different functions.
How Companies Can Get the Most from Millennial Workers
Companies should bring in a unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solution that gives both Millennials and older workers a flexible way to collaborate using multiple tools and a simple user experience. This will result in all users enjoying different aspects of one system that the organization is actually in control of. Businesses can then gather data, run reports, apply analytics, and tweak tools in order to ensure the highest level of benefit to all employees. UCC solutions can be implemented on the premises, in the cloud, or in a combination mode known as “hybrid.” Hybrid solutions are great for companies that have some in-place, premises-based UCC and want to add to their tool set. Cloud-based solutions are great for companies with limited IT resources, those with highly mobile workforces, and organizations just beginning to implement UCC, especially companies that want to try it before deciding how to implement it. For a company to get the buy-in of its Millennial workforce, it might be prudent to include a team of Millennials alongside the IT team in order to help implement corporate UCC.
The Millennial generation is expected to represent 50 percent or more of the overall workforce by the year 2020. Millennials were born with a digital spoon in their mouths and are very comfortable with collaboration tools and technology. Their impact on corporate collaboration is inevitable, and it is the job of the VAR to educate their customers about the importance of these changes. Companies will want to hire and maintain top Millennial workers, and in order to do this, they will need to provide the most effective collaboration tools in order to serve them, while still serving the existing workforce. In the end, using collaboration tools that reflect Millennials’ work values helps everyone perform at optimal creativity and productivity.
Does your company understand the impact of the Millennial generation on corporate collaboration? Please comment below.