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Millennials Raising the Bar on Technology


From casual dining chains to boxed-cereal companies, a gamut of industries are peeved with Millennials and their proclivities. And employers should know that certain preferences are extending to the workplace as well.

Millennials’ digital acumen is creating high standards for employers, and employers’ technological shortcomings could ultimately drive them away. With this generation expected to make up 35% of the global workforce by 2020, it’s incumbent upon employers to rectify this technology issue, said Knoa Software CEO Brian Berns.

“The technology that Millennials have grown up with and used on a daily basis — through high school and college, relative to social media, e-commerce and then just their ability to run apps on a variety of devices — it sort of set the bar for them in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness and the ability to complete a task in one click,” Berns said. “Then they get a job working at a Fortune 500 company and they’re put in front of these enterprise software systems, which are just the opposite of what they're used to, and I think there’s a bit of a culture shock.”

A potential solution for employers is to implement technology within their organizations that better tracks the employee experience. In a digital world in which almost everything has a tracking device attached to it, employees are being neglected, Berns said, which makes it hard to determine where improvements can be made.

“At the end of the day, you don’t know you have problems unless you’re really monitoring that environment,” Berns said. “That’s step one. Let’s collect data and understand where the challenges are.”

To provide an example of how this sort of practice could prove useful, Berns cited call centers as an area of large businesses with a high employee turnover rate.

“What if I have usage data that shows where they’re struggling and can intervene and give them more mentoring? There’s so many benefits to the organization from retention of employees to efficiencies in their systems,” he said. “If you can process calls more quickly or you can complete invoices more quickly, you can be a much more efficient organization and that ripples through everything.”

Of course, the entire workforce isn’t made up of Millennials alone. So, how do these digital standards apply to older generations? How does a less digitally-inclined company impact their well-being? Berns said it is a matter of different expectations.

“If you have people who have been in the workforce for 30 years, they remember green screens and mainframe access. Millennials, they’ve grown up with mobile devices and the devices have become an appendage essentially,” Berns said. “They’ve grown up in an environment where it’s just one click to buy anything or look up anything or connect with anybody. So, they have less tolerance, understandably so.”

Ultimately, how a company adapts to the technological demands of Millennials will determine its ability to recruit and retain them. The employee experience isn’t just about perks like foosball tables and happy hours, but rather having a digital infrastructure in place that allows for employees to succeed.

“At our company, we spend a lot of time on the environment — we have snacks and we go bowling and all that cool stuff — but that’s just a fraction of how people spend their time,” Berns said. “So, I think that this whole area of employee experience analytics is starting to explode. We have companies now that are saying this is core to their business. It’s critical advice and critical insight to ensure that we’re responding to our employees and that our employees are being efficient.”

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