Technology has given rise to a completely unique group of human beings – one with a renewed sense of connection, passion and entrepreneurial spirit. As these Millennials become a larger part of the workforce, their attitudes and habits naturally tag along, and today have resulted in an entirely different language for business operations as we’ve known them.
Business and Pleasure, Please
Aptly nicknamed “Generation Y-Not,” the meat and potatoes of their differentiating qualities (aside from technological savvy) is surely the tendency to blur the lines between personal and professional without much concern. For example, a recent study by Millennial Branding found that people of this generation have an average of 16 co-workers listed as friends on their Facebook profiles – which they expect to be able to check while on the clock.
Meanwhile, mobile devices are as common to them as television sets were to previous generations, and the impact of this pocket-sized technology has engendered an always-connected expectation. Personal and business communications are checked not only in tandem, but also constantly.
Meet the Trends
The dynamic duo of business and pleasure in the workplace has played a major part in defining a handful of enterprise trends, and while they’re obviously not exclusively exhibited by this group, they are certainly what’s defining them:
Ah, the wondrousness that is immediate gratification. To say that the delivery of products and applications via the public Internet – a.k.a. Public Cloud Computing – is booming would be an understatement. Vendors large and small have found incomparable success with this method, as it lowers the barrier of entry and makes way for the ever-popular freemium business model. Together, these two perks inspire Business Agility, as usage comes fairly naturally to applications or products that are cheap and accessible anytime, anyplace. Think of it like a fax machine: If only one person had one, it wouldn’t be very useful. But make it free and readily available and boom! Everybody’s faxin’.
From Friendster to Myspace to Facebook to whatever social application(s) your company is now using, the power of social networking is doing overtime to find its way into the enterprise as much more than just an add-on. It’s a shift that’s aiming to inform an entire culture. Being constantly connected is changing the way the cogs in our minds turn, and efforts to align that change with marketing and operations (as well as IT budgets) is what’s pushing this movement.
“A Social Business isn’t just a company that has a Facebook page and a Twitter account,” explains Social Business Consultant Jane Hart. “A Social Business is one that embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community throughout its organization—both internally and externally.”
Telecommuting has been a thing for some time now, but advancements in communication technology have created work environments that are even wider distributed and, as Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding puts it, a possible end to the 9-to-5 work day. Because they’ve grown up with technology, most Millennials view meeting and interacting online as comparable to face-to-face meetings (like our dear college hire, Ryan). Simply put, the virtual world is now a natural extension of the everyday.
While previous generations have mostly been linear in their habits and thought processes, Millennials constantly blend, change and enhance their personal, work, and social lives. On the upside, this equals a growing number of employees that are extremely engaged, and engagement often increases motivation to go the extra mile. On the downside, the challenges they face are of unfamiliar territory. In the next part of this series, I’ll take a look at some of these obstacles and how we might work together to smooth them out.