January 14, 2016


Reaching for the millennial workforce

Millennials are now the most visible generation in the workforce, and as more begin to join your company, the way your business approaches communication will change. They grew up in a technology driven era and won’t shy away from communication. In fact, internal communication will need to be brought up on par with their expectations in the coming years. A piece of the puzzle many employers miss is how video can impact the office.

Before worrying about what millennials need to succeed in the workplace though, executives need to understand who they are as a generation:

  • They value short form communication, especially if it’s digital.
  • If they can’t find something, they won’t hesitate to seek it out.
  • They’re driven by fairness within the company and always want to know their purpose for doing a task.

With this in mind, it’s also important to understand how millennials view technology and its function in the workplace.

How millennials view technology
Millennials are the driving force behind the social media boom, as a whopping 81 percent are on Facebook. About half of the generation post selfies on social networks and use text message apps. Most importantly, millennials are more likely than any other segment of the population to have an online presence.

They have a hand in every aspect of technology, meaning that companies need to expand their use to cover different types of communication they may not have thought of using previously.

Millennials have an enthusiastic appetite for video. According to an Animoto survey, 60 percent of millennials would rather watch a video made by the company than read a newsletter for an announcement. Ultimately, this means that if you’re using the latter as your primary form of company communication, the medium is only sitting well with four out of every 10 millennials.

Communication is paramount to this generation, as their view of working in a company differs from those in the past. If executives wait to let a message trickle down through the management team, there’s a chance it may not reach the millennials. They would rather see a company face in a video explaining exactly from the executive’s perspective what the message is, what it means for the company and what it means for the employees.

Becky Graebe, senior manager of corporate communications for SAS, recommends keeping the videos short, poignant and powerful. “We keep them to two minutes or less,” Graebe said. “Millennials especially expect videos to be short and sharp.”

Instead of outsourcing video production responsibilities, consider letting the employees create them. This can be done by appointing a team or person, or by holding a contest. If you’re worried that something inappropriate could end up on the system, develop an editing routine so the video goes through certain checks before it’s put up on the live feed.

Shy away from using email as the primary internal communications medium, but make it a point to use it when there are certain individuals you’d like to contact and get a response from. While videos have the capability for hosting a rate and comment feature with it, it’s not the best place to get advice and answers in the form of feedback.

Make sure not to bog down emails, as well. Just like videos, they need to be short and sweet, and hit the mark with ease. We all live in a fast-paced society, and millennials thrive on speed and efficiency.

Above all else, make sure that email is controlled so not just anyone can send out an email to the entire company. You never know what mistake could happen.

Millennials don’t have a gut reaction to search in the Intranet for answers, as they would rather go to Google or social media to find it. This means that management needs to figure out a way to drive them there and make good use of the system. Here are a few ways to begin the transition process:

  • Drop the corporate talk: Stay away from dry subject material and start writing things in a conversational tone.
  • Tell stories: Educate employees about the business by creating a plot line and use a down-to-earth writing style to reach them.
  • Don’t create hoops: Make things easy for millennials. If you want them to find a video on the company Intranet, simply send it to them. If it’s really important, make sure it’s in their hands and accounted for – they won’t waste time finding it.
  • Get feedback: Millennials like sharing ideas and insight, so make sure to allow for feedback on anything in the Intranet.

The company Intranet can be useful for millennials, but make sure it’s easy to get to.

Chat and text
Everyone uses texts as a quick way to talk to somebody they need to get in touch with. Millennials happen to live by it, and around half of them have some sort of texting application on their phone. Consider developing one for the company, or using an already existing one to communicate with them.

Texts can be more conversational by nature than emails, so try and shift towards texting as the primary form of communication as much possible. It’s best used for time-sensitive materials, and smaller bits of information that can be communicated quickly. Action items make texting a viable medium.

Face to face interaction
Millennials may often have their noses in their phones, but they do enjoy talking to executives and management.

In-person internal meetings can be a different way to mix things up, but make sure to ditch the agenda. Remember – conversational tone is best for millennial interaction. If you want a flowing, interactive meeting, make sure to structure it like one. And that often means not giving it structure.

Encourage executive staff to attend these meetings every once in a while, and if there’s an opportunity for a follow-up make sure that they are included. Ultimately, the goal should be to create a zone that fosters employee interaction.

A different generation
In the past, employees were given an assignment and they thought nothing of it. The case now is that millennials want to know their purpose and they want to be involved. Adapt different forms of communications to enhance interaction between all staff.

If you’re network can’t handle the added strain that the increase in technology will bring, consider using a software-defined technology like an enterprise content delivery network to optimize WAN bandwidth use, support constant video use and to make sure the network won’t be brought down with the added pressure on it. There’s no point in incorporating new technology if it won’t be well received because of a lack of capability in handling it on the IT department’s end.