HR needs right tools to cater to the tech–savviest generation
By Deepa Damodaran
Millennials will become the new workforce majority in the US sometime this year, as per a recent study by freelancer platform Elance-oDesk and research consultancy Millennial Branding!
By the time we bid adieu to 2015, there will be about 75.3 million Millennials (those aged between 18 and 34 in 2015) compared to the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (aged 51 to 69) in the country.
Today’s generation is very different from earlier generations in many aspects – they are quick learners, more tech-savvy, multi-skilled, highly talented, socially active, independent and creative. They value flexibility in work time and workplace. Contrary to popular assumption, a good team and project excites them more than money. And, they give equal importance to their personal space as much as that of their professional space.
This means office culture is in for big changes. Do we have the right tools to cater to this cultural change?
Changing HR Role and Employee Behavior
The role of Human Resource professionals has been evolving over the years. From its traditional recruiting, training and payroll managing roles, HR is becoming strategic to businesses as the majority of them understand its importance in managing a company’s most important asset – employees.
With the increasing Millennial workforce, the challenge will be immense.
Millennials are technologically sound, are digital-savvy, and like telecommuting. They seek applications that can be accessed over their mobile devices – be it payroll, company newsletters, schedule sheets, training, leave forms etc.
Right from the task of filling resumes on a website to exit interviews, they would like everything to be done over their mobile devices. Your website should not be only mobile friendly, but also designed specifically for mobile applications.
They might attend a job interview in a subway train, or while on a vacation. They would prefer to go through your training material on their phone while on their way to the office. They wouldn’t mind putting in a little extra effort and time into work, if it means an extended ‘me time’ vacationing or to be able to attend kids’ school days or dentist’s appointments. What matters most to them is the flexibility of the system.
New Age HR System
Is your applicant tracking system more than five years old? Are you still relying on traditional recruiting methods? If your answer is yes, then you are missing out on highly skilled candidates who could have been sourced from social and referral recruiting platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Glassdoor etc.
This generation feels at ease attending job interviews over a real-time video interaction, or sending pre-recorded videos. We are seeing a trend where HR is using data analyses of employee data to make hiring and other strategic decisions. So your applicant tracking system should be able to support videos, mobile recruiting tools, new age analytical systems, referral tools, networking tools, applicant data etc.
Millennials are adept in managing a strong online presence and are highly networked. Similar to how you would like to review a candidate, candidates in turn would like to know about your culture and whether it will suit them. How do you plan to impress them?
Recession paved the way to the increase in contract workforce and freelancers – known as a remote or virtual workforce. This category of workforce need not work from the four walls or cubicles of your office buildings. They work virtually, from anywhere, at any time, on any device. They want real-time services and solutions. Do a reality check on your applications to know how technology friendly they are.
This generation is literally raised on apps and digital technology, whereas, traditional HR applications are old and slow that were meant for desktops. They need to be streamlined to meet the new age expectations. This would also help employees to fill forms such as feedback, engagement etc. on the go instead of having to log in to the corporate HR network. The current generation of workforce is mostly comprised of telecommuters. It would hamper their productivity if they had to use a laptop to log into the corporate network each time to check hours and schedules. Instead, they would prefer to do it on their phones or tablets, while on the go. They seek the flexibility to swap schedules, read newsletters, and access emails on their handhelds.
Companies no longer consider investing in employees as a burden, especially since they understand that hiring a new employee costs more (in terms of advertisement, recruiting, onboarding, training etc.) than retaining an existing one. Moreover, as studies show, turnover is more among Millennials; they would not like to continue in a place that does not support their growth. That is where L&D comes into the picture. However, learning management systems (LMS) are one of the oldest HR technologies we have today. Today’s learners like quick learning. They are not just difficult to recruit, but also to retain, so it is very difficult to engage them using traditional methods of training. As collaborative learning, embedded learning, social learning, and mLearning are becoming a part of employee training strategy, it is high time we have systems that cater to the demand.
Today, we have several systems to accommodate different HR functions, such as payroll, training, onboarding, review, performance etc., which means employees have to log into them separately in order to check their account. Going forward, we might need a more all-encompassing system that caters to multiple HR needs and which can be accessed using a single log in; because Millennials prefer it that way.
If you want to reach out to Millennials, talk to them in a language they understand. It is easy to communicate to them using means they are at ease with, rather than more traditional methods. So, are you ready?
This is a guest article by Deepa Damodaran – Senior Editor, Excellence Essentials, at HR.com. She has over nine years of experience, including five years as an IT journalist.
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