With millennials now representing the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, they’re bringing new ideas and preferences with them, setting the stage for changes in workplace behavior and technology use. Employers need to address them now.
As a younger generation who grew up using technology, millennials expect companies and organizations to be cutting-edge adopters, using the most up-to-date hardware and software to add flexibility and ease to their workflow, according to a new study from CompTIA.
The study—“Managing the Multigenerational Workforce”—was released this month and is based on two separate online surveys: the first of 700 business professionals, and the second of 1,010 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24.
While workers across all generations want their companies to be strong technology users, according to CompTIA Senior Director of Technology Analysis Seth Robinson, the desire is growing as employees get younger.
“I think that that use of technology is one of the biggest things that a company needs to sort out when it’s considering how to manage these different generations, how to make them effective with each other, and how to keep the best talent,” Robinson said.
The option to telecommute is one way to attract and retain that talent. The majority of millennials and gen X-ers prefer to work for organizations that offer telecommuting, and 42 and 44 percent, respectively, will accept a lower salary in exchange for this benefit. However, they both still value face-to-face interaction as much as older generations and prefer to work outside the office only one to two days a week.
But the study also shows some resistance to telecommuting: Currently almost half of baby boomers want to eliminate telecommuting, a mentality and culture Robinson said will have to change in order to recruit younger employees. “The potential is there for employees to be as productive when they’re on the go as they are in the office, and obviously when they don’t have to come to the office every day, it gives them some flexibility and some work-life balance,” he said.
That blending of work and personal life also rolls over into social media use, which 43 percent of millennials think is an asset they bring to the workplace. A third of employees in their 20s and 30s use Facebook for both professional and personal purposes, a trend the study found exists across social media platforms. Younger employees share work information with personal contacts and add coworkers on personal accounts.
In comparison, less than 20 percent of baby boomers have this blending, and about a quarter do not even use Facebook. But no matter social media or technology trends, companies need to focus on how best to recruit and retain younger employees, especially since they’re less loyal to their workplaces, according to Robinson.
“Companies, in order to find that balance that they want to have of having some employees that are going to want to stick around, they’re going to have to be aware of what makes people move, and they’re going to have to address those things rather than sticking to an overall corporate mission and culture,” he said.