Millennials are set to run the work world, but are NZ businesses ready?

Kiwi businesses aren't doing enough to fully utilise the skills offered by millennial workers, one Kiwi CEO says. But just what does it take to get the best from generation Y?

It’s long been agreed-upon that technology is always evolving. But with more and more millennials – and their associated millennial attitudes – entering the workforce all the time, are Kiwi businesses adapting fast enough?

Michael Russell, CEO of Auckland-based IT strategy company Origin, for one, doesn’t think so.

A lot of the disconnect, he says, centres around changing attitudes towards technology, mobility and communication.

“This group [millennials] expect to be mobile and able to work from anywhere at any time,” he says.

“Having grown up in such a connected world, the millennial generation are used to staying in touch online at all times, which means many Kiwi companies may find themselves needing to address the ways they use technology in their business,” he says.

Millennial workers may have been characterised* as lazy, self-serving, indecisive and entitled, but the likes of Forbes, Fortune, USA Today, Wired and others say that the stereotype simply isn’t true.

Still, many millennials feel their employers are not utilising the new generation’s as effectively as they should be. According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2015, just 28 per cent of millennial workers feel that their current organisation is taking full advantage of the skill sets on offer.

One way this can be remedied, says Russell, is by replacing old technology such as voicemail and desktop computers, with smartphones, online collaboration tools and cloud storage.  

“Millennials like to have the flexibility to work from wherever suits, and access content from multiple devices such as iPads and smartphones, which means low-cost laptops that store data on the cloud will suit them better than a full desktop set-up that ties them to a certain location,” he says.

“It may also mean ensuring staff can print direct to the office printer via their smartphone, and adopting mobile apps into work processes. For example, giving employees the option to track time spent on projects on their phone so they can log tasks performed outside of standard business hours.”

The millennial generation has always had the internet, a cell phone, and likely mastered smartphone multitasking when they were still in primary school. New Zealand businesses have taken steps towards recognising this, but Russell says many will still need to make changes to let workers access data from multiple mobile devices, while also maintaining data security in a tech world as rife as ever with cyber-threats.

“Recent studies have shown a third of millennials put more value on social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility than on salary,” he says.

“That means the kind of technological flexibility a company offers in the future may be more important than the remuneration package for many people.”

*Disclaimer: the author of this post is a proud millennial, and would like to think of himself as a hard-working team player.