If you’re not managing information technology for a multi-generational workforce, you will be in three to five years.
“Millennials” – loosely defined as anyone born after 1981 – already make up about a quarter of the country’s adult population and will, researchers predict, constitute half the nation’s workforce by the end of this decade. Often called “digital natives,” most millennials grew up in a society infused with technology. In fact, many pundits credit them as a driving force behind digital transformation, the “reinvention of an organization through the use of digital technology” to improve business performance, such as profitability, productivity or service.
But how about some props for the other major generations in the workplace?
Baby Boomers, the burst of Americans born during the 20 years following World War II, were the pioneers of business computing, guiding enterprises from mainframes to desktops. And give a nod to Generation X, people coming of age in the ‘80s and ‘90s, who ushered in mobile computing and the internet age. If millennials rarely are seen without a smart device in hand, Boomers and Xers should be acknowledged as the folks who put those gadgets there.
So, while today’s business leaders surely must reckon with the technology preferences of millennials on the rise, they can’t afford to neglect the needs of the Xers and Boomers either.
How can leaders – no matter when they were born – strike a successful balance when managing IT across three distinct generations? We reviewed several articles on this topic and gleaned some wisdom:
- Craft 3-Dimensionsal IT Policies and Practices
Because three cohorts are active in your workplace, your IT policies and practices must always reflect three perspectives to be comprehensive and effective. For example, establishing a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program for your organization is a practical move in world where smartphones outnumber people. But each generation uses its smartphones in diverse ways. Boomers may use them mostly for making calls. Xers may see them more as personal assistants that boost productivity through conference calls, email, calendars and other mobile apps. Meanwhile, millennials may find the most value in social networking capabilities, blurring the line between personal and professional contacts. In any case, developing policies and practices for all three profiles makes mobile device management a complex, continual pursuit.
- Embrace Collaborative Communications
Today, employees of any age have an array of communication choices – VoIP phones in the office, smartphones on the road and, of course, laptops and tablets for anyplace they choose to work. A meeting nowadays can take place in a conference room, on a speakerphone, by video or a mix of all three modes. Like managing BYOD, coping with these integrated communications is challenging but necessary. For successful digital transformation, all generations on the job should become as adept at leading a conference call as typing a concise text message – especially as Boomers play the critical role of mentorship before retiring.
- Diversify Your IT Support
Each generation in the workplace has its own style of working with technology. And just as each approach brings its own value to a business, each has implications in terms of cybersecurity, business continuity and compliance with regulatory requirements. That’s why your IT support should match this diversity, with Managed Services Providers (MSP) specializing in the technologies that fit your company best.