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Work like a Millennial

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By 2020, Millennials will make up half the workforce. Are we headed for radical change?  According to a 2014 survey by IBM. the answer is yes … and no.


“Myths, Exaggerations and Uncomfortable Truths: The Real Story behind Millennials in the Workforce,” studied 1784 employees in 12 countries. The project compared Millennials (born 1977-1995), Baby Boomers (b. 1946-64), and Gen Xers (b. 1965-1976) in the workplace.

What they found?

All three groups shared basic values and core concerns about business. However, Millennials stood out as digital natives who grew up with mobile and Facebook messaging. They will lead the way to solve cross-generational problems with the power of tech.

All 3 groups shared the same basic values and goals:

  • More than one-fifth of each group shared top career goals of:
  • Making a positive mark on their organization
  • Helping to solve social or environmental challenges
  • Working with a diverse group of people
  • About a third of each group valued doing work they were passionate about
  • In every group, the perfect boss was ethical, fair, transparent, and dependable
  • Millennials, like their seniors, preferred working face to face to learn new skills

All three groups identified common challenges in the workplace

  • Many employees were in the dark about the goals and identity of the businesses they worked for

This includes:

  • Business strategy
  • Expectations of management for employees
  • Knowing what their customers want
  • Company branding
  • All 3 Groups gave customer experience a poor rating

70% of Baby Boomers believed their companies were failing to effectively address customer experience, even though 65% of Gen Xers and Millennials said their companies were using social media.

  • Companies are slow to put new technologies to work in their businesses
  • Their workplaces lagged behind when it came to putting the latest new technologies in place

All three groups were familiar with current tech. However, companies had concerns that making new changes could alienate existing customers.

The Solution

A second IBM study,
To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing
, surveyed over 700 B2B decision makers. Researchers looked at how each of the generations made purchases. The results showed Millennials:

  • Valued trusted advisers who are also eager to collaborate
  • Often used live chats and instant messaging to connect with vendors
  • Valued data and speed

Workplaces that adopt Millennial values will meet new challenges with tech-powered communication:

  • Leaders can become better advisers and collaborators by sharing their vision for business

    This includes being clear about each employee’s role in reaching that vision … and looking at how employees reflect company branding.  

    At the same time, they can show a concern for individual development. Using online testing and training can allow employees to test and develop skills.

  • Companies can leverage social media channels to test and improve customer experience in real time … they can look at each step of the customer journey with online dialogue and digital surveys
  • Businesses can use the power of instant data … they can test response from customers and make constant improvements creating loyal fans

Millennials will lead the way through the evolution of business. With digital communication, they’ll bring all generations together to better serve the customers who make business possible.

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