Managing the generational workplace shift: Is HR ready?

Tuan Le, General Manager for Southeast Asia, Orange Business Services, explains why companies should treat their younger workforce as partners.

The term “Millennials” is no longer an unfamiliar phrase in today’s workplace. According to Aon Hewitt, millennials and beyond will represent up to 75% of the global workforce by 2025. It is therefore important for organisations to start recognising this new age workforce, and future-proof their talent engagement efforts.

The workplace of today is undergoing a massive transformation. The proliferation and adoption of digital technologies, as well as the generational shift from Baby Boomers to millennials in the workforce, have significantly changed our workplace environment. While non-millennials place more importance on transactional needs such as control over work and pay satisfaction, social needs are more dominant to millennials.

For example, the digitally-savvy millennials are likely to be more comfortable with technology, preferring to communicate through messaging applications such as WhatsApp or Telegram, rather than conversing through emails. Team cohesion and flexibility are key appealing factors to this new age workforce.   

The "employee as customer" approach

To move with times, HR must adjust its view of millennials as simply "employees". The engaged nature of millennials means that they see themselves as a customer of the company – they see it as more of a partnership and expect higher levels of collaboration and participation, as compared to non-millennials who prefer working independently on their tasks.

For the millennials, work-life balance and recognition for their work are more important than development opportunities. Additionally, they also expect their employers to provide a value proposition aligned with their aspirations.

By 2020, there will be five generations co-existing in the workplace – placing pressure on HR to avoid organisational silos and generational rifts and manage all different age brackets effectively. What this ‘employee as customer’ mentality means for HR is that they must plan for organisations to become flatter, and more open and agile to cope with changing expectations.

How can we manage this change?

Being digital natives, there is an expectation that the smart technologies, and collaborative digital tools that the millennials use in their personal and social life will be available in the workplace. As such, the workplace of the future will not only have to be outfitted to meet their needs, but will also need to be further enhanced to take advantage of artificial intelligence, smartbots and other innovative technologies. What this means is that there will be a greater demand for mobility, flexibility, and collaboration in the workplace in the next 10 years.

At Orange, we strongly believe in the need to be digitally transformed not only outside with customers, but also inside with employees. Businesses can enjoy significant productivity gains by empowering employees with collaborative tools to work together more effectively. The digital workplace is already a reality, and the only question that companies face now is how and when they will transition toward it.   

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