As of 2015, millennials comprised the bulk of the American workforce, and Forbes.com reports that millennials will represent at least 40% of the global workforce by 2020. This means that HR professionals cannot ignore the preferences of this generation if they wish to attract and retain promising talent for the betterment of their organizations.
However, those who belong to Generation Y and Generation X, respectively, harbor such drastically different views about the world of work that these differences can, in fact, practically be viewed as chromosomal (yes, pun intended). For instance, Generation X bred many highly skilled specialists, whereas Generation Y has bred many entrepreneurs. After all, 72% of millennials report that they would prefer to be their own boss.
And in these different perspectives on the working world, the task of keeping both the seasoned veterans of Generation X and the young millennial talent of Generation Y happy in the workplace has become quite the challenge for even the most skilled human resources professionals—especially in light of how each generation tends to perceive the other: Generation X perceiving Generation Y as ‘lazy’ while Generation Y perceives Generation X as ‘far too set in its ways.’
However, these perceptions, from both generations, are misguided. Generation X isn’t ‘far too set in its ways,’ because many of these ways are the timeless, tried and true means of successfully navigating the organizational world—an organizational world to which millennials are not yet accustomed. Additionally, millennials aren’t lazy: Take a peek at the 20-something who appears to be doing very little at her desk. Chances are she’s written code to do the work for her.
Resolving these differences requires HR directors to utilize a simple, easy-to-learn, yet effective way for employees to collaboratively perform their roles in the workplace, and evidence suggests (particularly in Generation Y) that this can be accomplished from the many freedoms provided by effective, cloud-based document management solutions.
For instance, the environmental, ‘going paperless’ aspect of document management software coincides with the millennial belief system: Research suggests that millennials are environmentally conscious, passionate about changing the world, and well acquainted with technology’s ever-expanding potential. Therefore, attracting top millennial talent requires providing a workspace in accordance with this belief system. This generation believes in doing things on-the-go—another belief in accordance with the features and benefits of enterprise, cloud-based document management software—a technology that lets workers collaborate securely and efficiently from mobile, tablet, and laptop devices in any location there’s an internet connection.
Although this belief in working on-the-go can be attributed to millennials’ growing up in a tech-saturated environment, it may have also been spurned by their image conscientiousness and their perception of typical office work.
For instance, millennials have no interest in becoming the office parodies at which they laughed in the 1999 comedy ‘Office Space.’ There is nothing more comedic to a millennial than the drudgery of any paper-laden workspace resembling the one depicted in this film, and the comedy’s characters aren’t exactly means for reverence, either. Take the hapless man voted off the cubicle island and into the company’s office basement despite having been off the company’s payroll for 15 years, for instance—a stark portrait of a Kafkaesque, cruel, and paper-facilitated existential crisis. What kind of HR manager could accept such an environment for his or her company’s workers—especially when it jeopardizes millennial talent retention.
Speaking of office space, the millennials of Generation Y do not value physical workspaces and offices as much as Generation X, and, in large part, this can be attributed to another aspect of the Millennial conscience—one which does not demarcate as clearly as its predecessors the mental and physical spaces constituting ‘work-life’ balance. In other words, the idea of working from home is neither unusual nor off-putting to millennials; the same goes for sleeping in until noon and working until 10 p.m. – the work hours and locations where this work is completed alike as erratic as they are soothing to the members of Generation Y. And, as a Generation raised on Mac computers, millennials are stimulating demand for mac-compatible, cloud-based enterprise technologies like document management software, for they can reduce the potentially harmful impacts of the consumerization of IT.
So, instead of focusing on how millennials’ means of functioning in the workplace are difficult to embrace, human resources professionals can adopt the enterprise software necessary to let these millennials function as freely and creatively as desired. In utilizing cloud-based document management software, HR professionals give these millennials the resources to work from home via their phones, laptops, and tablets—reducing IT costs for newly minted entrepreneurs and developed organizations alike.
Despite the differences existing between the X and Y Generations, they both have some overlap in what they look for in a work environment. In fact, members of Generation X rank transparency and dependability as the second and third most important things in the workplace, respectively, as reported by entrepreneur.com, and this transparency is typically found in collaborative work environments, which 88% of millennials prefer over competitive work environments.
Keeping employees dependable, no matter what generation they belong to, is becoming more and more difficult without the right technology in place—there is so much data and information proliferating (roughly 90% of the world’s data has been created within the past 5 years) that the insight it holds frequently gets lost in the hustle and bustle of organizational routine—significantly hamstringing organizations’ potential.
Essentially, millennials are immersed in technology to the extent that they can utilize it in the breadth of its potential, which entails giving them the freedom they desire in the office, wherever that ‘office’ may be. And although many may deem members of Generation Y as dreamers with their heads too far up in the clouds, it is ironically cloud-based document management software that may allow them to utilize their creativity to its fullest extent. Furthermore, neither the seasoned veterans of the workforce nor the millennials who now work among them should have to work at the speed of paper: the speed of inefficiency—the speed of potential not realized—the speed of freedoms yet to be felt and opportunities missed.