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Meeting Millennials’ workplace expectations

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Around half of South Africa’s people are aged under 25 and they are reshaping the working world with their new expectations of workplace technology. Businesses that want to make the most of millennials in their workforce need to ensure that they give young professionals the tools they need to perform at their best. This is a digital, tech-savvy generation that expects access to information instantly and on-the-go, writes Martin Gunnarsson, director at IFS Product Strategies & IFS Labs.
Millennials are the first group in history to have grown up with computers and the Internet as natural, ubiquitous parts of life. Through the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, this generation has grown up in a digital age with technology intertwined in every part of their lives. What happens when young professionals, reared on the instant gratification, social connectedness and simplicity of Instagram and WhatsApp, encounter the non-glitzy reality of business software?
And what does this new batch of workers want from an employer? Reading popular descriptions reported in the media, it seems Millennials want tools that can maximise their sense of flexibility. More often than not, this translates into flexible work hours, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and their choice of software. In the end, it’s about the user experience.
So here are some points for company decision-makers to consider:
* Hardware isn’t enough to retain young talent. If you want to appeal to millennials, don’t forget to complement hardware investments such as smartphones and tablets with similar investments in software. Speak with your software vendors about the possibility of lifting out commonly recurring processes (for an ERP system, this might be something like time and travel reporting) from the back-end system to mobile applications.
* Usability is king. Drawing on our own experience as an enterprise applications vendor, it is clear that offering an intuitive, appealing, and highly configurable work environment plays a major role in user satisfaction and, in the long run, employee retention. IFS Lobby is an example of how businesses can ensure a positive user experience and offers a clear and tailored view of the business or situation as it relates to a role or process, providing fully customisable and actionable information relevant to each unique user.
* Active engagement with the ERP system. As mentioned above, millennials have developed their own way of communicating and consuming information. Why fight it when this instinct can be harnessed within the bounds of the business system? We launched IFS Streams for this type of user. It is a notification feature that actively alerts the user when a change happens in an item or process that relates to the employee’s work. These alerts are pushed out to the user’s screen of choice–be it a smartphone, a tablet, or a smartwatch. To action these alerts, Millennials do not want to be restricted to clicking or tapping to navigate the system. IFS Applications is fitted with a voice-activated control feature called IFS Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) that lets users search for and update by only using their voice.
* Tap the potential of social. Millennials gravitate toward teamwork rather than independent problem solving. Nowhere is that observation more apparent than in social media, where all aspects of life are posted, photographed, tagged, and shared. So why not harness this instinct to improve internal communication and cooperation in your business? We came up with IFS Talk, which offers a platform for communicating with colleagues, Twitter-style, within the secure walls of the ERP system.
Like any generation, Millennials want to work and prosper on their own terms, using the tools that they trust. In the context of business, this entails quick and easy access to data, visually appealing, fully customisable interfaces, and–if at all possible–a way to communicate with colleagues in a social media setting. Given the sheer size of the Millennial Generation, that seems like a small price to pay if it means happy and loyal employees.