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Open communication in the corporate workplace has traditionally been very formal. When most people think about the office environment, they think of suits, boardroom meetings, and briefcases.
However, the newest generation of office workers is forcing us to reevaluate the way we think about corporate culture, communication, and expectations.
As millennials continue to enter corporate, career-oriented roles, companies are adapting to accommodate their value system, slowly moving away from our traditional ideas about the corporate environment.
What Millennials Expect from Their Employers
The creation of the internet is one of the most important technological advancements the world has ever seen. It’s changed the way we live, work, and communicate.
Today, millennials are between 21 and 38 years old—they’ve grown up with the world wide web.
As the ubiquity and influence of the internet have increased, businesses have integrated it into their daily operations. But for millennials, it’s been an essential part of life.
According to statistics published by the Pew Research Center, 92% of millennials own an internet-connected smartphone. Most of them use at least one form of social media.
1. A Social Conscience
Reports show that millennials expect their employers to take a strong social stance and be responsive to their ideas and suggestions.
By 2030, millennials will account for about 75% of the workforce. Consequently, employers are changing their operations to accommodate this generation’s values.
2. Open Communication and Transparency
The way employers communicate with their employees has changed significantly over the last several decades. Business Insider recently put together a great showcase of how much the office environment has changed over the past 50 years.
Two key traits millennials are known to value are honesty and transparency. In some cases, especially among older coworkers, their communication style may be perceived as blunt or brash.
However, many millennials are earnest to create an open and transparent environment where they know exactly where they stand.
Effective communication is essential to workplace success. Though their execution may appear a bit forward to older generations, millennials are very receptive to cultivating an atmosphere of impartiality and tolerance.
Social media has been one of the most influential technological developments in modern history. It’s completely changed the way we connect and share ideas with the world.
Today, we’re able to find people who share our interests, opinions, and values on any number of social media channels using a simple hashtag. This has cultivated a value system of like-mindedness.
Millennials want a workplace where they can find a community of people that value the same interests they do.
According to a study by Business Insider, 88% of millennials reported wanting their workplace to be fun and social, stating the most common reason for leaving a company is “culture fit.”
4. A Connected Workforce
For millennials, it’s almost impossible to imagine a workplace without computers and the internet. Laptops have long been an essential tool for traveling professionals, enabling them to conduct business from any location.
With their smartphones always within arm’s reach, millennials have taken this concept to the next level.
These days, it’s rare to see someone without a smartphone. Many companies have recognized this trend and capitalized on it, implementing dedicated mobile work messaging solutions like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook Workplace.
This makes it easier for teams to share ideas instantly and it saves companies from having to invest in additional hardware.
While the ability to instantly communicate with co-workers has allowed us to be able to work effectively from just about anywhere, it does have its downside in that employers often come to expect contact outside of regular office hours.
5. Visually Driven Content
Growing up with the internet means millennials are accustomed to having instant access to nearly any type of information they need.
Furthermore, social platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook have contributed to a more visual display of information.
Consequently, many millennials are more receptive to messaging with concise text paired with visuals and videos.
6. Text Instead of Phone Call
When mobile phones first surfaced, millennials became immersed in texting and this has fundamentally changed the way they communicate.
Text messages enable individuals to send a message to another phone anywhere in the world. It’s cheaper and more convenient than making a phone call, and millennials have taken their texting habit into the workplace.
Overall, most people prefer to communicate by texting and emailing rather than by telephone.
Today’s companies are responding to the texting generation by implementing employee messaging systems to ensure staff can communicate with each other through text when the situation allows for it.
Imagine being a teenager with an active social life—you have multiple channels of communication including texting, emailing, and social media. With so much technology at their disposal, multitasking is second nature to this generation group.
Implementing internal communication software and processes has been key change companies have made to ease millennials’ transition into the workplace.
If given the access to the tools they find most effective and the freedom to execute projects the way that works best for them, young professionals have the potential to be the most productive workforce the world has ever seen.
8. More Accessibility
Historically, the standard corporate workday has been 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.
Weekends were reserved as family and leisure time. And while many companies still operate under these official hours, we’ve seen a gradual shift in work hours to accommodate more flexibility.
With so many open communication platforms at their fingertips and the ability to work and communicate from just about anywhere, millennials value being able to adjust their work schedules to better fit their lifestyle.
Employers are beginning to understand the advantages of this “always plugged in” mentality and are becoming increasingly receptive to flexible hours and remote working situations.
Most workplaces include a mixture of generations, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to find a common ground of acceptance, understanding, and appreciation for those who are different from us.
For employers to create a positive work environment that accommodates everyone, they must educate themselves on generational differences and provide systems that work for all.
As millennials ascend into leadership positions, they will continue to mold workplace cultures, communication, and expectations to better reflect their own generation’s values.
The more we do ease that transition, the more employee buy-in and success we can expect to see down the road.
How Are Millennials Transforming Open Communication?
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