It’s hardly news that the millennial generation is seeping into the workforce, bringing with them ubiquitous technology and a new attitude to employment. Millennials, defined as those born between 1980 and 2000, are already beginning to take over the Canadian workforce. Soon, they will be the dominant age group, replacing their baby boomer parents. As of 2014, 1 in 3 employees in the workforce was a millennial. That number will only climb. Within a decade, millennials will make up an incredible 75% of the workforce.
That’s a massive shift in labour. IT and tech departments are already making preparations to accommodate their unique work preferences. Companies are investing in millennial-friendly technologies such as mobile tech, cloud computing, big data and social media. These technologies are central to millennial productivity.
Though emerging technologies may be closely associated with millennials, they’re benefiting other generations, too. Baby boomers who want to stay active in their industry while enjoying their retirement will find new technologies make it possible. What’s more, evolving technologies embrace the growing independent workforce – employees who prefer to work part-time, contract, temp and freelance. Technology is making it possible to collaborate with colleagues whether they’re across the room, or the world. Millennials, in particular, are advocating for flexible employment. The days of a standard 9 to 5 workday at an assigned workstation are being waived in favour of flex schedules and shared workspaces.
Is there a new normal for the tech industry?
Absolutely. The standard 8-hour, 9 to 5 model is being thrown out the window. Mobile accessibility 24/7 is the new, preferred workday. Digitally-minded millennials live, breathe and communicate through their devices. At all hours of the day, they’re within arm’s reach of their smartphones and plugged into the internet. They’ve never known a world without constant connectedness and instant access to unlimited information. When the oldest millennials (aged 36 now) were coming of age, dial up, MySpace and AOL were already cultural fixtures. Having rarely had to wait for slow technologies to catch up with their thought processes, they favour easy-to-use apps over complex operating systems and enterprise-level software.
Their lifestyles are different, too. Millennials are purposefully seeking work-life balance, forgoing the standard set their parents. They are motivated by interest and inspiration as much as they are by money. Millennials want to do something they enjoy. They prioritize a career where they’re able to innovate or contribute in a meaningful way. They’re less motivated by stability than any previous generation, jumping from job to job as their muse dictates. Influenced by the instantaneous responses on sounding boards like Facebook and Instagram, they crave collaboration and instant feedback.
How this mentality is seeping into IT infrastructure
Companies that don’t support millennials needs will quickly find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to finding fresh talent with equally fresh ideas. To usher in innovation, IT must enable millennials to work the way they work best – with information instantly available to them, anywhere, anytime.
For a clearer picture of how tech companies are preparing for this shift, IDG Research Services surveyed IT managers across a variety of US companies ranging in size and industries. The survey found that, though many companies say they’re preparing for the “millennial shift,” there is still a gap between what IT can provide and what millennial workers are looking for.
7 in 10 survey respondents said they were already being impacted by the millennial shift. 24% said they already had a plan to address the millennial workforce, 43% said a plan is in the pipeline, and 33% admitted they were not yet addressing the changing needs of the workforce. To be fair, changes happen at different paces at different companies, as determined by their industry, the current demographics represented in their workforce, and the rate at which boomers retire.
Millennial employees are no longer ‘on the way in.’ They have arrived, and it’s time that tech and IT companies take notice. Companies that are nimble enough to provide the technologies and training that millennials need will set themselves up to attract equally innovative talent and reap a competitive advantage for years to come.
Check back for part two of this series next week. We’ll share 9 things that innovative, millennial-friendly companies are doing, including a handy millennial-friendly checklist.