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The future of work: Millennials and technology

Iain Leaman

The term ‘millennial’ is often banded around in the news and online with little regard to the people who fall into this category. Let’s not forget that Millennials are now somewhere between 23 and 38 and if they’re not already building their career, they’re about to start. It’s estimated that in 2020, over 36% of the workforce will be of the millennial generation. This is the generation who grew up with continual technological advances, from the mobile phone to the internet, from social media to AI. They understand the need to adapt, communicate and find new ways of working. Their values, expectations and beliefs are shaping how workplaces evolve, and how businesses recruit and retain the best people. So what do you need to know? Here’s our take on how you can start to prepare for the future of work with millennials.

Connecting with purpose

One of the most significant changes that millennials bring with them is the shifting attitudes towards work and their belief in purpose and values. Many millennials are sceptical about the positive impact companies might be making. They are harsh critics, judging both consumer brands and employers in a similar fashion, and the two sides can impact each other. Millennials believe that businesses tend to prioritise jobs and profit over protecting the environment and improving society. For any current job seeker, you only need to check Glassdoor, LinkedIn or any number of online forums to discover what a business is really like to work for. So it pays for companies to be open and transparent about their purpose and values, and to build their entire employee experience around this.

Creating a more flexible future

Long gone are the days of working for the same company for 35 years. The millennial generation demand more from their careers, wanting to explore their options and try new things. Millennials are changing jobs more than any previous generation. This means businesses need to offer greater flexibility and keep employees engaged. This could be through internal mobility schemes offering the chance for employees to explore a different path/alternative role or through offering clear routes to succeed and gain promotion.

Remote working is also having an impact on businesses. A recent Deloitte study showed that 56% of millennials would look to leave their employers in the next two years if they didn’t prioritise flexible working practices. In addition, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that between 2012-16 remote working rose by 12.5%. If that trend continues, we could see a rise to 50% by 2020. This covers not just working from home, but also working from anywhere as technology now makes it possible to have virtual workplaces.

Building broader skillsets

The days of single specialist skillsets are numbered. New technologies like AI and machine learning are expected to take over more mundane and repetitive tasks over the coming years. While some worry about this having a negative impact on employment, the reality is that employees will be able to develop a broader more complex and varied set of skills.

Millennials expect to learn and work in the same ways they entertain themselves and connect with friends - easily, quickly and on-demand. The growth of online learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy and FutureLearn is enabling this to happen. Now, businesses need to integrate this way of working into employee engagement and learning initiatives.

Read our related blog: What employees want from an automated workplace

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