May 12, 2016
Most articles will tell you that Millennials use technology very differently than the typical Baby Boomer – and that’s true – but most articles don’t provide ways to address the issue. In this blog, I'll cover six main differences between Baby Boomers and Millennials in the workforce, and how Managed IT Services can help you accommodate differing work styles.
When looking at generational differences, don’t start with technology – start with the core characteristics. For example, Baby Boomers are:
- Group Oriented
- Accustomed to being the Center of Attention
- Self Actualized
- Change Agents
- Dubious of Authority
Millennials, for their part, are:
- Team Oriented
Not all of these core characteristics have IT ramifications, but some clearly do. Let’s focus on areas where these characteristics intersect with technology.
A lot of applications brag about how they enhance collaboration. But Baby Boomers define collaboration differently than Millennials. When Boomers get together in groups to talk, they want to be able to brainstorm, forge a list of potential solutions and come to a consenus. So applications that facilitate those activities, e.g. web conferencing, video conferencing, telephone conferencing will be important to them. Millennials, on the other hand, think “teamwork” when you say collaboration. That means they need applications that will allow them to work together (not just think together) on a project, a document, a website, etc. Millennial collaboration will focus on the issue of getting the work done, while Boomers want to build consensus and get everyone on the same page.
Using several different programs together – programs that seemingly have nothing to do with one another – is strictly a Millennial work preference. They might, for example, record a skype video conference, clip it, add live photos and send it via email or post it on a blog. Is your IT department ready for the various applications the Millennials want to mashup and use to complete their tasks? Or you could have a specilized Managed IT Services organization to help you answer questions and find the best solution(s).
Millennials respect the rules, and it surprises people when they hear that. In fact, they are more respectful of rules and authority than the previous two generations. Boomers, not so much. So when you establish rules for your network, you will probably get more blowback from the veteran employees than the new ones. Here’s a question you never thought you would ask: how do you adjust your approach to the network with a generation that obeys—even depends—on your rules?
If you have employees asking for customized applications, you’re probably talking to Boomers. They are used to organizations catering to their needs and “one size fits all” doesn't fit into their vocabulary. Millennials have a very intense team focus, so their need to have things individualized is less prominent. They might not use a program exactly the way it was designed to be used, but they are not going to contact IT to have it customized (though they might try to do it themselves).
Baby Boomers may be the last generation of mono-taskers. That is reflected in the way they use technology. Many will often close an application before they open another one. Millennials, on the other hand, have redefined multi-tasking and often have several windows or tabs open the same time. A room full of Millennials can put a lot of stress on the network. Managed IT Services can help you monitor and rebalance your network loads for the new workforce.
6. Online Safety
Boomers’ attitude toward authority makes them less careful online. They don’t think your online safety rules necessarily apply to them. Millennials are just the opposite, but they also expect your IT department to keep them safe online with up-to-date firewalls, malware protection and virus protection. Their obsession with safety may catch you off guard. If you need help managing your security, Managed IT services can help in this area, too.
Each generation introduces new challenges to the workplace, and as the way people work changes, your IT approaches need to change with them. Managed IT Services may be the best way to adapt your organization to maximize the productivity of both groups. When you cater to all work styles and needs, you can significantly increase the productivity of your organization. That’s a good place to be.
Schedule a consultation with our Managed IT Services to find out how you can better align your network with your current workforce needs.