The imminent arrival of a new generation of young, tech-savvy employees into the workforce marks a milestone for HR teams to re-consider their recruitment and retention strategies. Working environments, processes and the technologies that support these must evolve beyond accommodating the preferences and behaviours of the current workforce to meet the expectations and working styles of the ‘App Generation’.
These young people have grown up in a world of digital media and mobile technology. To the App Generation, everything is mobile and the solution to virtually every problem is an app. But for those businesses still relying on legacy communication tools, this could have a serious impact on employee satisfaction, talent retention, and their ability to attract younger staff.
Fuze research, carried out among 2,500 teenagers aged 15 to 18 years, uncovers a number of insights into how businesses can prepare for the imminent arrival of the App Generation and evolve HR and recruitment strategies to attract the best of the next generation of talent.
For example, there are stark differences in how the App Generation expects to work compared to current workplace practices. While today’s workforce uses email and desk phones, it’s mobile messaging, video calls and social media that are standard for teenagers. Only 2% of teenagers prefer to use a landline telephone to communicate and 17% have never used one. In addition, only 42% of teens expect to need a deskphone for work.
Introducing modern technology shouldn’t be about avoiding training for baffled young workers who have never picked up a desk phone. The latest tech is a big incentive for the App Generation, with 71% of teenagers saying that it is important to be able to use the latest technology at work. They are just as likely to use FaceTime to communicate as they are to make an audio call (on their mobile, of course).
Changing culture to attract new recruits
We are all aware that flexible working is growing as a trend and significant demand exists within the current workforce. The App Generation, however, may be the first to see it as ‘the norm’. Teenagers have already been exposed to increased flexibility. Remote and collaborative studying have become part of their everyday lives and many teenagers have witnessed first-hand how parents can work effectively outside of an office.
Every employee has a legal right to request flexible working and, given the appeal of home working among the App Generation, it’s highly likely they will want to take advantage of the legislation. Setting up your business with the policies and technologies in place that allow for remote and flexible working will be a big selling point for the next generation of workers. But even with a propensity towards flexible working, that doesn’t mean they don’t see value in face to face interaction with their colleagues.
Create spaces that promote fresh thinking and brilliant ideas
We might think of the App Generation as being permanently ‘heads down’ in their smartphones, but in fact their number one way to communicate with friends is in person. They see the value in face to face communication at work too, with 69% believing that it’s important to meet regularly with the people you work with, believing this is key to effective team work.
With in-person interaction being important to the App Generation, it’s unlikely we will see the decline of the office any time soon. But it’s clear these spaces need to evolve. The App Generation wants to feel part of a community and work in an inspiring environment, whether they are emailing, taking calls, holding meetings or collaborating on a project.
Create spaces that promote fresh thinking and brilliant ideas, where casual meetings and serendipitous interactions can happen any time. This could include soft seating next to all desks and ‘workstations’, desks that allow for standing or sitting positions, white boards and brainstorm areas right in the heart of the office or simply spaces where employees can sit, talk and share ideas.
This is a view shared by Samantha House, Project Designer at Area Sq, a company that specialises in creating inspiring and collaborative office interiors, who says: “We have experienced first-hand the benefits of allowing people to work in flexible, innovative and diverse work environments. Organisations must understand their people, the nature of communication, and the way technology and space impacts our working relationships. This vital insight has to inform the design of a workspace if it’s to become effective in supporting the array of individuals working within an organisation.”
Your employees already want to be working flexibly, using technology that matches what they’re used to using in their personal lives. The major difference is that the new generation don’t just want this, they expect it.
Embrace the arrival of a new generation of worker and address the issue now. Work with your IT department to implement the technology that will not only attract young talent but empower your existing workforce. Put in place processes and policies that set boundaries for flexible working for everyone, and make your business a more attractive prospect for the talent of the present as well as the future.
To find out more about the demands of both the App Generation and today’s workforce, download the Fuze report: The App Generation: How employees of the future are shaping the way we work.