Technology has been ever-present for millennials, so they expect it in the workplace too. This expectation has shaped many workplaces.
Depending on the study you read, millennials, or Generation Y, are considered the most tech-savvy of the current generations in the workplace (Gen Y, Gen X and baby boomers). If that's the case, your company could benefit greatly with these younger employees in your office. Technology is constantly evolving, and millennials have learned how to adapt to change easily. This is a beneficial quality in any employee, especially compared to members of older generations who may prefer to stick to what they know. A recent study by EY reported that only 4 percent of those surveyed consider boomers to be tech-savvy, and only 10 percent said that boomers are adaptable.
Although millennials are tech-savvy, some may be dependent upon technology, especially when it comes to communication. Staying on top of social media means keeping your smartphone in hand at all times. Texting and tweeting are the norm; phone calls, emails and face-to-face communication are more common in an office. Thankfully, millennials are adaptable.
The obvious benefit of growing up with ever-changing technology is the expectation of evolution. Millennials not only expect change, they make the change happen. They are a driving force behind the advances in technology because they are in charge of those changes, and they're the consumers demanding the advances. Those advances have resulted in devices, apps and technology that offer us all more flexibility, better communication and faster computing.
On the whole, millennials, more than any other generation in the workforce, can quickly pick up new technology and master it. Members of this generation expect frequent updates and changes to software or services, and they're able to stay on top of those advances.
However, as often as the technology tag is applied to this young generation, it's not always applicable. The American Institutes for Research looked at raw data from a household study by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development to determine that millennials may not be as tech-savvy as so many reports claim. Nearly 60 percent of the Gen Y respondents scored low on simple tech tests, such as ones on finding and emailing data from a spreadsheet.
Staying on task and solving problems
The issues workplaces may find with millennials are in practical applications of technology and problem-solving skills. Generally speaking, millennials know technology as it relates to what is important to them, and often, that is social media. It's a wide net cast there, but even millennials see social media as a hindrance in the office. In a recent Pew Research Center study, 56 percent of employees who use social media in the office said that using those social networks during work hours distracts from their work.
Millennials in the workplace are a benefit for any employer because of their innate ability to adapt to change, especially as it relates to technology. Keep in mind the drawbacks of their constant exposure to and expectations for technology, though, because it could affect performance. As helpful as social media can be for your employees, it can also serve as a distraction. And although some technologies and methods, such as spreadsheets and email, can seem antiquated, they're useful and necessary for many businesses. So, be sure your youngest workers are willing to learn your company's way, and listen to your millennial employees – they may have a better solution.