“Our technological powers increase, but the side effects and potential hazards also escalate.”
The rise of the ‘millennials’ and ‘digital natives’ will in the coming years produce a new and combustible working environment. The old-timers (so to speak) will have to accommodate the habits of the tech-savvy generation while the young (so to speak) will have to learn and retain some of the invaluable skills left behind by older generations. Naturally part of the problem is that people’s skills in the digital and technological domain will have to be honed and improved in the face of the momentum the world of technology is gathering.
Florence Broderick noted, “It’s fundamental that we understand that no social network, platform, app or technology will ever really help us with our soft skills.” These ‘soft skills’ in the age of a technological revolution are becoming an increasingly, if not an essential part of the workplace.
In Futureboard’s recent article two members of the technology community noted that while the pace of software and technology is moving fast technology; businesses require a mixture of individual’s and profiles, not simply introverts who love to code.
They need business leaders to manager technical projects, graphic designers to create memorable brands, business developers to sell their products and entrepreneurs to innovate and make bigger things happen. It is important to remember that not all millennials and digital natives will end up being cyber-robotic organisms, an extension of AI incapable of effective human communication staring at computers screens indefinitely.
By 2025 (10 years will disappear quickly!) millennials will account for 75% of the global workforce. This 75% will have a different view of how work should get done and come into the workforce with a different set of expectations from their employers.
However on the flip side employers from Gen X and the Baby Boomers generations (despite being the minority) will and should in many aspects expect Gen Y and Gen Z to be able to adapt to certain attitudes and behaviours in the workplace. According to Futureboard’s Student Survey conducted in 2014, these would range from strong work ethics, the ability to engage effectively in a face to face discussion when required, and be competent by email and telephone when necessary. There are disadvantages to Skype as there are to email.
Perceptions between different generations are of equal importance. There are workplace assumptions that millennials need to be prepared to challenge. According to a survey of 6,361 job seekers and veteran HR professional in 2013, 86% of HR professionals described Millennials as tech-savvy with 1% loyalty to their employers. The reality is that 82% of Millennials describe themselves as loyal to employers and 35% would describe themselves as tech-savvy. This is one example and illustrates that narrowing the gap between workplace perceptions and expectations of employers and employees is important for companies.
What will the outcome be if the integration of a broad set of different generational skills is successful in the workplace? Particular companies will thrive if they are able to absorb ‘digital natives’ and ‘technoholics’ and make the transition from a predominantly hierarchical organisation to one that is predominantly based on networking, fluidity and constant evolution and adaptability. The ‘digital natives’ are career multitaskers, they will move between businesses and pursue careers without boundaries and the millennials will prefer working with organisations, rather than for them and generally lead flexible lifestyles with an increased importance on work-life balance.
However the emerging workforce must learn and understand the skills and motives that drove previous generations as strong work ethic, the ability to communicate to large and small audiences in person, respect, loyalty and input, regardless of the changing working hours, remain an absolute essential in any working environment. Old and new have to merge so that markets can accommodate Gen Y and Gen Z in a comfortable manner.
(P.S: Happy New Year!!! Bring on 2015!)