In a world where small, yellow, cylindrical critters seem to be taking over the human conscience, it’s hard to look anywhere without seeing a Minion. Love them or hate them, they’re everywhere. But no matter what you think of these fictional characters, there’s a much more powerful and real resource changing the way businesses work today.
They look the same as you or I. They’re a little younger maybe, with unique features and names like Stuart and Kevin. They speak their own language – unrecognisable at times – and have a thirst for the technology. They’re everywhere you look.
Meet Generation Y – the Millennials.
Millennials are the group of people born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, following the Baby Boomers and Generation X. One of the largest generation of people in history, they grew up in a time of rapid change when the internet was the norm.
Millennials have seen the trouble faced by Minions who choose to serve a continual series of despicable masters.
So they want to shake up the system, do things differently, do things more efficiently. And they’re far from despicable.
According to this year’s Annual Millennial Survey carried out by Delloite, only 28% of Millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills. And 78% of Millennials think innovation is needed for companies to grow.
So how are Millennials changing the way we do business?
Work is no longer a place
To the Millennial, work is an activity not a place to go. This generation sees tasks and outcomes are important to business, not the 9-5 routine.
It doesn’t matter when or where outcomes are achieved, as long as they are achieved.
This means there’s a demand for a more flexible approach to when and where they work. The Millennial wants to be in control of their work activity for a better work-life balance.
This is fuelled by advances in connectivity over the last decade that have made it simpler than ever to be able to work from home, work on-the-go and work at times suited to the activity, not `business hours`.
Working off-site is still a relatively new idea for many businesses, and it’ still an idea that makes many businesses feel uncomfortable.
Yet a recent study by Superfast Cornwall found that 71% of businesses allowed employers to work remotely and / or more effectively from home as a result of superfast connectivity.
In many cases, a flexible working policy, when using the right technology and connectivity to support it, can be massively beneficial.
Millennials were born and raised in a digital era – an era no other generation would have recognised in their youth.
Over the last few decades Millennials have grown up side-by-side with technology that has revolutionised the world as we know it, both in the home and in the office.
In fact, many Millennials have access to technology at home significantly more advanced than that in the workplace.
And they’re easily frustrated by slow, dated technology.
There is more pressure now than ever before on businesses to meet the digital demands of their workforce.
Laptops, chunky out-dated iPads and any mobile phone that isn’t ‘smart’ reduce productivity, increase stress and are often seen to cause more problems than they solve.
So Millennials expect business connectivity and technology to be in-line with the latest and fastest, where speed is measured in Gigabytes, not Kilobytes.
Figures from Superfast Cornwall show turnover increased by 4.5 times more for businesses who had a superfast connection compared to non-connected businesses.
Obviously to the Millennial, this comes as no surprise.
In order to stay competitive in the market, businesses need to embrace that demand for better technology, not to avoid turning a Millennial purple with anger, but to improve productivity and efficiency.
Redefine “Face time”
To many, “face time” means a face-to-face meeting. A more traditional conversation, it’s the way many people still like to do business.
But to the Millennial “face time” is not only a popular video communication app, but a way of talking to each other using any type of video via their phones, laptops of tablets.
In the past video conferencing and video calls has been expensive and unreliable, mainly because of poor connectivity.
But with superfast broadband becoming increasingly available through connection vouchers, and the speed of 4G mobile networks, the Millennials are becoming `video ambassadors`.
Millennials still value traditional face-to-face interaction, but in the fast-paced business world, they understand that connectivity has enabled them to streamline these interactions for convenience, lower costs, and improved productivity.
Like the Minion, Millennials know the value of working together. They have grown up using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and are comfortable using social media platforms and apps to work together and share ideas.
In fact, Millennials actually want to work collaboratively, taking shared responsibility to innovate and create the activity needed to be successful.
Technology such as Voice Over IP (VoIP) and Skype for Business have developed that much-needed activity to become key collaborative tools, made possible by more reliable and faster connectivity.
Skype for Business, for example, even has the facility share screens remotely and send instant messages, giving colleagues the tools to share resources with other collaborators on any project, even when they’re not in the office.
Creating the opportunity to work in small groups to create big ideas, businesses can use superfast connectivity and the Millennial technologies to link people from within an organisation from anywhere in the world.
There’s no escape
Whether you like it or not, Millennials are here to stay.
They are in every business, all over the develop world, and make up a massive proportion of the workforce.
Their language may seem alien, and their thirst for technology as materialistic, but it’s important to give them the tools they need to do their thing if you want to stay competitive and successful.
But as with anything related to technology, what’s next? What will Generation Z – the Zombie Generation – bring to businesses in the coming decades?