The war for talent: Managing millennials

Anyone who’s spent a frustrating afternoon explaining Facebook privacy settings to their parents can tell you that millennials are naturally good at technology. Millennials have been raised on the Internet, touch screens and the cloud, so naturally they have a more intuitive understanding of technology and can pick up systems and applications that are built around a common interface experience quite quickly.

That same disparity in tech skills between millennials and their parents exists between them and the older generations who manage them. These are digital natives who use their phones to run their lives remotely and for whom AI, automation and robotics seem a normal part of life. They have high expectations for workplace technology, and their patience for inefficient legacy systems is low.

Employer considerations

Employers, who are keen to measure new starters’ work performance and quality of outputs, are not averse to considering new techniques if it will give them a better look into an individual’s performance. Performance, however, isn’t everything; less frequently measured are the risk factors for burnout, dropout and inefficient working practices that eat into employees’ free time.

Millennials currently are the biggest sector of the active workforce. Millennials also are the most depressed at work, according to both USA Today and the NY Post. Considering that depression costs the US economy more than $51 billion per year in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs, it’s not uncommon for these workers to stay only a year in a role before moving on, at great cost to the companies they leave.

And, in the war for talent, it’s important to remember that anyone can be headhunted. Banks aren’t just in danger of losing their best engineers to other banks; they risk losing them to any number of exciting new emerging tech fields.

Creating a tech experience

To get the most out of your millennial workforce, you need to provide a consumer-level technology experience. Specially, one that takes the hassle and the administrative acrobatics out of an employee’s role and gives them the time and tools to focus on innovating and high-level problem solving. In this experience, core business systems are instantly accessible, security is a given and the interface is reassuringly familiar. These are the basics of good leadership but aided by technology.

We recently completed a project with the Royal Bank of Scotland, helping them automate change approval processes and saving their employees an average of 46,000 man-hours per month, which they now can use to focus on more proactive HR programs. Read the whole story here.

If you work in HR or the financial services sector and want to discuss any of the themes I’ve raised, please do get in touch.

Brian Retzlaff, Executive Consultant, Financial Services at ServiceNow