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Using Technology to Engage the Millennial Workforce

Selena Ricks-Good
Posted by: Selena Ricks-Good on Nov 3, 2017 12:00:00 PM
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The mobile-first generation needs the right tools to stay motivated and driven

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No matter what you may have heard about millennials — that they spend too much on avocado toast, or that they’ve killed everything from cars to Applebee’s — one hard truth about this generation is that they are digital natives. Now that millennials represent the largest generation in the workforce, they have a lot to offer in terms of more diversity, tech savviness, and a fresh perspective. The trick is getting them to stay with your company.

According to Gallup, only 33 percent of U.S. employees are engaged at work, yet companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. Gallup's 2016 How Millennials Want to Work and Live report revealed that 21 percent of millennials — more than three times the number of non-millennials — switched jobs in the last year. Gallup also found that only half of millennials strongly agree that they plan to be working at their current company in one year. While some say this shift reflects a more fluid workforce, job-hopping has real costs for employers — the cost of replacing an employee can be double his or her salary or more. In addition, churn can affect the morale of remaining employees.

Millennials who are engaged at work are more likely to stay loyal to their employers. Adobe found that 81 percent of millennials say “state of the art technology” is important to creating their ideal workplace. And while employee engagement is crucial, operational efficiency is an equally desirable goal — so it’s smart for companies to invest in technology to heighten staff engagement, increase accuracy, and build a more connected workforce.

Reduce Friction in the Workplace

In the digital age, the workforce expects a technology-driven employee experience that reflects the level of innovation found in their consumer experiences. According to Gartner, employees in today's digital workplace use an average of three different devices in their daily routine, which will increase to five or six devices as technologies such as wearables and IoT eventually become mainstream. Many of these employees are given the autonomy to choose the devices, apps, and even the processes with which to complete a task. If use of disparate systems is causing frustration, companies can turn to APIs to streamline user processes and increase efficiency by connecting systems.

Mobile and emerging technologies present an opportunity for organizations to re-think their processes and workflows. Why require an employee to log in location information when a device’s location services can do that automatically? Why wait for paperwork, signatures, and payments to be processed manually when a device’s camera can send that data instantaneously? Why spend days onboarding employees with training when virtual reality can show them what they need to know in minutes?

Deliver Just-In-Time Information

Today, handheld devices have a wide variety of applications in the work environment. Although they can serve in almost any capacity, they are frequently used in businesses that require employees to keep track of inventory, such as warehouses, shipping, and retail. Businesses that expect staff to communicate frequently with a central location, such as restaurant servers and busy kitchens, or field workers and their managers, may also find handheld devices useful. And industries with mobile employees, such as transportation companies, frequently deploy handheld devices for workers.

Similarly, enterprise apps designed for employees are on the rise, and the productivity benefits are boundless. Employees can submit and respond to corporate communication, complete data entry and generate analytical reports, and often, handle customer service issues, all from their own personal devices while on-the-go. Tasks and deadlines are tracked, company information such as product portfolios are presented consistently, and team members can receive push notifications for important messages and events, so that instructions and requests are synced and resources are not misused.

Companies that are adapting to the tech-driven landscape are seeing results. Of the companies that redesigned work processes to align with the use of mobile devices, Avanade found that 73 percent were more likely to report improved sales and 54 percent were more likely to report increased profits than businesses that are not adapting in this way. They were also 58 percent more likely to report improvement in bringing products and services to market.

Boost Collaboration & Transparency

According to Accenture, high-performing companies that have invested in collaborative tools like interactive portals and analytical dashboards have found them to be 80 percent more effective at improving productivity. Forrester reports that one-third of enterprises in North America and Europe have implemented virtual collaboration tools to unify communications and overcome business and technology complexities, with an additional one-third in the planning or pilot phase.

Technology can also be used for continuous feedback loops. Some companies still survey their employees only once a year, but employees need to be able to express themselves and offer feedback on a more frequent and regular basis. Employees want to be listened to and feel that their opinion matters. Collecting frequent feedback allows managers to act instantly on problems. Adopting employee communication platforms and project management tools will make it easier for employees to share knowledge, connect with the right person, and access the right content.

Conclusion

While there’s no one technology or application that guarantees motivation or engagement, digital tools can empower your team and prompt managers to be more proactive, steering employee retention in the right direction. The bottom line: if companies want millennial employees to stay long enough to return the value invested in them, they need to provide value as well.

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