The Millennials Are Here. Are You Ready?

Daisy Hernandez

millennials are comingWe have just reached a major milestone in the American workforce: As of 2015, Millennials now surpass baby boomers and Gen Xers as the largest generation in the American workforce (Pew Research Center, 2015).  At the same time, workers are choosing to stay in the workforce longer.  The result is that companies today have up to four generations in their workforce at any given time, and that number will expand to five by 2020.

Both these points present both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses when it comes to how to adapt to the changes in the workplace.There is much emphasis placed on the growth of Millennial worker population. However, without considering the growth of the multi-generational workforce, we may be missing the key to prepare for the evolution in the workforce.

Why not leverage the transformative digital technologies that exist today – the same ones the millennial generation have grown accustomed to – and harness the wealth of experience, knowledge, and corporate know-how of the more experienced generations?

Enterprise social collaboration tools hold great potential to solve this challenge. They can facilitate connections to the right experts, foster discussion and information exchange, deliver the right data and information, and integrate into existing business processes. When applied towards driving the right outcomes, these social collaboration tools achieve tangible, meaningful results.

For example, imagine that one of your most loyal, long-time customers is facing a particularly troubling issue with one of your products, but one that is easy to solve with the right information.  The customer service representative in charge of this loyal customer is relatively new – a Millennial with incredible potential, hired from a prestigious university. Without access to the right experts and information, an easily resolvable issue could become a disastrous end to a long-term business relationship.

This is just one of many possible scenarios. To learn more about how your business can benefit from social collaboration tools, check out these resources:

  • For more on how social technologies can impact marketing, sales, service, and HR, read these IDC InfoBriefs
  • McKinsey & Company (Jan. 2015) found that where social tools are used at work, respondents say that the use of social technologies has significantly changed the workflow, and report improved yearly benefits of faster access to knowledge and experts as well as reduced communication and travel costs.

So what’s stopping some organizations from successfully rolling out enterprise social collaboration tools? Some managers mistakenly believe the answer is to get their employees comfortable using social collaboration tools. However, in 2014, Pew Research found that 82% of adults between 30-49, and 65% of adults between 50-64, are using social networking sites today.

It’s not about getting employees comfortable with these kinds of tools – employees of all ages are already using them today in their personal life. It’s about how companies can engage and incentivize using these tools to enable mentoring and coaching, to exchange new ideas, capture knowledge, and share experiences.  It’s the content, information, ideas, and data flowing through these tools that is powerful – not just the tools themselves.

If companies can find a way to achieve this, businesses will create a thriving workplace that can transcend geographic boundaries across their entire workforce, not just the Millennial generation.

This is an exciting time for companies to use the latest technologies to bridge their workforce, facilitate necessary knowledge exchange, drive the right outcomes, and prepare for the future of work.

To learn more about this topic, check our SAP Radio show around The Future of Work in the Digital Economy with Daisy Hernandez.

Want more thought leadership on today’s evolving workplace? See The Future of Work.

Daisy Hernandez

About Daisy Hernandez

Daisy Hernandez is Global VP of Product Management at SAP. Under her executive leadership she leads product management and enablement for SAP Jam Collaboration. She is an experience professional who has held several leadership positions with specialties in social software, collaboration applications, cloud computing, enterprise software, agile methodologies and management.