Nick Barley, Chairman of B2B Ecommerce specialists Netalogue in a series of articles, muses on the impact millennials will have as they join the workplace… part four
In this article he considers the impact of millennials on business networking
Just as I am writing a series of pieces on Millennials I read an interesting article from the Huffington Post suggesting why Millennials don’t like Linkedin (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alexis-shaak/why-millennials-dontlike- linkedin_b_9864920.html). The article, by Alexis Shaak, suggests that Linkedin is too structured; requires pre-existing connections to build a network (which Millennials might not have); is not “fun”; and you cant ‘stalk’without being recognised.
My guess, by the way Alexis writes, is that she is a Millennial and her comments are both brilliant and insightful. Above all it helps me to realise that the workplace is changing and changing rapidly and that those organisations that recognise this ‘sea-change’ – and accommodate – will ride the new wave.
LinkedIn is too structured and ‘not fun’…
PWC recently told us that Millennials are reshaping the workplace and will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. Most importantly, Millennials, are the most likely generation to truly live by its own set of consumer and business principles and rules. As Alexsis Shakk notes, if Linkedin is too structured and ‘not fun’ – Millennials won’t use it.
More fundamentally, perhaps, is that life today is more open with access to a global database of information easier than ever before. This makes it almost impossible for organisations to market themselves one way (caring, socially responsible, eco-friendly) but in reality behave in another. For tech savvy Millennials this means they will give their time, attention and money to organisations who best represent the way they live and who adhere to their principles and rules
If we apply these thoughts back to technology and the design of technology for the workplace (see my previous blogs) it is clear that many organisations have a lot of thinking to do – to appeal to the Millennial generation.
Millennials are of course, social media savvy…
Linkedin, for example is too structured and too intrusive. In previous blogs I have mentioned HR software that requires too much information from potential recruitment candidates. Millennials are of course, social media savvy. They move seamlessly between communication applications that foster community, sharing, and instant gratification. how many business applications are designed with these principles in mind? And does this matter? Evidence suggests it does matter….very much so. In previous blogs I have touched upon the need for your IT environment to reflect the needs of tech-savvy and connected Millennials. This approach should encompass everything from IT policies such as ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD); to software design (clean UI, optimised for multimedia and social connectivity); to supportive learning (automated walkthroughs, context sensitive tutorials not traditional help keys); to appropriate work processes (protect sensitive information, minimize data re-keying, only seek required information).
I don’t want to carry multiple smartphones and computer devices…
BYOD is quite interesting. More now than any years I have worked with organisation and refused to accept the company issued computing device and mobile phone. My attitude is that I own my own technology devices and I simply require them to be connected to that organisations networks and applications. Clearly this needs to be performed securely to protect that organization from data breaches and inappropriate access. Not everyone would agree with my position but I argue that I am comfortable with my technology devices, I know how to secure and save back-up’s and I don’t want to carry multiple smartphones and computer devices.
Opportunity to access mobile business applications…
Personally, I think Millennials will think similar. When I attend business meetings with Millennials the one device I can guarantee they will take to the meeting is their Smartphone. On the device are business notes, IMs, emails, tasks, captures of whiteboard notes, voice recordings of meetings, and business files. Plus, of course, the Smartphone offers the opportunity to access mobile business applications. It doesn’t mean the Smartphone is a superior business device but, in my opinion, the first Millennial instinct is to reach for their Smartphone for any type of collaboration.
This ‘mobile-first’ mentality is key to understanding millennials. I think there are few key conclusions we can reach when helping organisations to adapt to the Millennial generation:
- Make sure you have an effective BYOD policy
- Figure out the applications that Millennials will use; purchase applications using this perspective. Also figure out how to enhance existing apps with ‘millennial features’.
- Don’t ‘lock down’ your IT environment. Trust workers; allow them to access popular applications (Facebook, Instagram, etc). Don’t be King Canute. If you are, you won’t keep Millennials hired for long.
- We open with Millennials. If your business does not allow certain devices, certain applications – because they pose significant risks to the business – be clear why and be prepared to discuss.