How to prepare for the 2020 workplace

by 23 Jan 2012

By 2020, Gen Ys – people born after 1977 – will account for 50% of the working population, representing the majority of the workforce. With this generational shift, the corporate world as we know it will change, as organisations learn to adapt to the demands and expectations of Gen Ys in order to thrive at a time where human capital will drive the success of an organisation.

The key to a high-performing work environment is communication. Managers need to be aware of their employee’s expectations from the job in order to fulfil them. Gen Ys consume information in many more different ways than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts. It’s already no longer adequate for companies to connect to employees and customers via traditional communications channels.

According to a Comscore survey, the older you are, the more you are using email. On the other hand, Gen Ys use email less - so HR managers will need to play an integral part in managing these new communication channels and accommodate the different ways of working to ensure that they are able to attract and retain the best talent amongst Gen Ys.

To promote productivity and engage the Millennial workforce, organisations need to provide employees with access to the same social web tools they use in their everyday lives to communicate, collaborate and connect with one another. By creating an environment where communication is simple and familiar, company leaders have the potential to develop a more engaged workforce, a stronger employer brand and encourage the team to become more agile.

Embracing open and positive communication with the millennial workforce is uncomplicated and trouble-free as we already have the tools to help us work towards becoming a more connected, integrated business. Leaders within an organisation can take action today:

  1. Start with goals. Start by identifying your business goals. Once you’ve identified your goals you’ll be able to start integrating them into enterprise social media tools where they can be cascaded through the day-to-day workflows of employees. Keep in mind that usage is heavily dependent on integration into employee activities – so make sure this is a core component of your daily workflow.  
  2. Recognise that the biggest hurdle is your corporate culture and internal processes, not the social media technology. Focus your efforts on finding corporate ambassadors, and make it easy for them to share and participate in your social media pilot. Involve senior executives and focus on building a culture of co-creation so employees at all levels have a voice and see the power of “we.” Remember that change doesn’t happen overnight, so patience is key!
  3. Understand how being a communications champion can enhance your ability to recruit top talent. Survey your new hires. Understand their digital expectations when joining the organisation. Becoming a truly connected organisation also creates the need to develop a new set of digital literacy skills for your employees; these will be increasingly in demand as we head into the 2020 workplace.
  4. Create guidelines and policies for employees’ usage of social media. Team alignment needs to be clear, with defined goals and processes. Becoming highly connected has the potential to create improved business results, such as increases in collaboration, innovation cycles, and attraction of Millennial prospective new hires to your company. At the same time, it is important that you clearly establish policies and maybe even new roles and responsibilities as you begin to educate your workforce on social media and monitor usage.
  5. You gotta walk the walk to talk the talk: Remember to join the world of social media yourself! There are several major social networks that you can join to learn how it all works. Once you have created your own profile, start looking for friends and topics you want to keep abreast of – jump in by following thought leaders in your industry on Twitter, connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn, and adding new friends on Facebook.

Extracted from the book “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today,” by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd, chief learning officer at SuccessFactors.

About the author

Dr. Karie Willyerd is chief learning officer at SuccessFactors. She is recognised as the global driving force behind SuccessFactors' Social Learning platform as she is the former CEO of Jambok, which was acquired in 2011. Willyerd is the co-author of the best-selling book “The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today.”

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