The Generation Gap in Your Office
Over the next five years, the American workplace will experience a generational transformation. As the baby boomer generation enters into retirement, the millennials will take over as the majority group. At 70 million Americans strong, the millennial generation consists of people born between 1978-1996. By the year 2015, the youngest millennials will be of working age, while the oldest will be entering the prime of their careers. Millennials currently comprise of roughly 35% of the U.S. workforce, but by 2014, are projected to be 47%. The rapid growth of millennials in the workplace will fundamentally shift how we do business and how we communicate.
Why will this transformation occur? Millennials were the first generation to grow up with cable television, mobile phones, reality TV, personal gaming consoles, diverse environments, and everyone having a voice. Millennials focus on personal success, are easily bored, extremely independent, empowered, optimistic, connect with people in new ways and expect to work any time in any place. This generation views work as a dynamic part of life, and not some activity to be evenly balanced with several others. Millennials strive to find work that is personally fulfilling, provides opportunities to make new friends, learn news skills, and be a part of a larger purpose.
What shaped the millennial generation has defined them as wired, global, mobile, interdependent, quickly bored and all about the power of now. A generation that is accustomed to always knowing what their friends and family are doing has made them impatient for waiting on communication. As they enter the workforce, this constant demand for better, faster and more information will define the way that they work.
Because of their rapid proliferation in the enterprise, occurring just as baby boomers exit the workforce en masse, the millennial generation will be given higher levels of responsibility earlier in their careers, influencing how future business will be conducted in the absence of seasoned boomers. Specifically, the millennials will have an increasing influence on enterprise collaboration and communication. This generation is already accustomed to consumer social networking tools that provide real-time communication, and they enjoy connecting with people. As the enterprise continues to understand the immense value that social networking provides, and with the millennials already adopting it, we will see a shift in enterprise communication that favors this real-time rapid information consumption and creation trend.
Historically, shifts in enterprise communication happen every 20 years, and with the millennial generation, this shift will be from email to activity streams. Activity streams in the enterprise provide real-time collaboration and communication, similar to Facebook news feeds, that blend the content of traditional enterprise data sources with the format of new social tools. The rapid exchange of information will make collaboration amongst the millennials more efficient than their parents, increasing productivity.
Has the Generation shift started in your company? As retirement parties become more frequent, and new young millenials fill your office, look for the change in communication that this generation fosters.
Sources: NBR.org, opennasa.com, BLS.gov, USAToday.com