Businesses need to stay ahead of the technology curve if they are to recruit and retain people who have grown up living and breathing in a fully connected environment Research last year from content intelligence company ABBYY found that having the right tech in place was key to attracting millennials and, according to PwC, 50pc
Research last year from content intelligence company ABBYY found that having the right tech in place was key to attracting millennials and, according to PwC, 50pc of the workforce will be millennials by 2020. So, HR departments must be telling themselves: “SnapChat filters and VR headsets all round,” right?
Not quite. Access to the latest gadgets isn’t quite what millennials want. “Technology isn’t a perk, it’s an enabler of a smarter working era, where both employees and organisations can capitalise on the freedom, personalisation and flexibility that digital tools can offer,” says Dean Forbes, chief executive of CoreHR.
“Getting this right will help your business attract and retain millennials, but crucially will also deliver better job satisfaction for other generations too.”
1. Clarity of purpose
Stuart Hearn, chief executive of HR tech company Clear Review, says: “What we hear over and over again from HR and talent professionals is the insatiable millennial appetite for clarity. Clarity of performance feedback, clarity on career progression and – perhaps above all – clarity in terms of purpose. There is less patience than ever for ‘just doing work’.”
In terms of how to address this need, says Mr Hearn, “It’s about providing a cultural and technological framework that young people can plug into quickly, know where they stand, and start applying themselves with a clear sense that they’re making an impact and have a path to success in front of them.
“My view,” he says, “would be that the increased value millennials place on technology is more about the underpinning social and cultural drivers as opposed to the innate desire to use technology more heavily.”
2. Security and peace of mind
Millennials want faster, more convenient and, most importantly, secure communications platforms at work, says Morten Brøgger, chief executive of collaboration platform, Wire.
In fact, a recent study by TechSmith found that 44pc of millennials consider their organisation’s communications methods outdated, and 45pc of them say they’d never share their personal data with companies as they do not trust them to keep it safe.
They are also more likely to use new tools to find out if their data has been stolen (14pc search the dark web, 13pc search data-breach websites such as HaveIBeenPwned).
“These trends point to the overall theme that the nature of work is changing, and workers’ tastes are evolving,” says Mr Brøgger. “Companies that refuse to adapt the technology with which they use to communicate are looking increasingly unappealing from a recruitment point of view.
He adds: “Popular alternatives such as Slack are not protected with end-to-end encryption (E2EE), meaning that employees’ messages aren’t necessarily private. Other solutions like WhatsApp claim to be E2EE, but critical vulnerabilities have been discovered in the software which essentially enable them to harvest data from personal accounts like Google Drive.”
While security has been a key area of concern for many businesses thanks to significant recent breaches and the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the fact remains employers are still seen by some new staff as playing catch-up with digital norms.
Companies considering alternative communications methods within their businesses do need to choose wisely, though. Mr Brøgger says: “Millennials and the future working generation will be attracted to a forward-thinking firm that protects their privacy and offers them the flexibility and freedom that secure communications platforms offer.”
Millennials (like most of the gainfully employed) value a work-life balance and a workplace that is flexible and transparent. Making it as easy as possible to work well in a business is a surefire way to attract the widest and deepest pool of potential talent.
“It is, therefore, a given that a company must use its technology in a highly creative and personalised way to attract high-quality employees,” says Joanne Skilton, chief commercial officer at intranet company Unily.
“It’s about utilising the technology to create the flexibility of workplace that, literally, works for everyone, anywhere. This means mirroring the tools that our employees are already using outside the office.”
The millions of millennial and generation Z professionals entering the workplace are heightening the drive to digital transformation. “They are the first generation to have grown up in a fully connected world, raising expectations for a high level of digitalisation at work,” says Myles Leach, managing director of European telecoms company NFON UK. “Their outlook demands a step away from legacy and a step toward the next wave of technology, and the wave after that.
“To attract and retain these digitally oriented employees, businesses must become more responsive to technology innovation.”
According to a study by PwC, 86pc of the millennials sampled would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer match their expectations. As Mr Leach notes: “The difference between successful and unsuccessful digital transformation often lies in the finer details of human adoption rather than technical implementation.”