Authored by; Gibu Mathew, VP & GM, APAC, Zoho Corporation
It is remarkable that in today’s workplace as many as five generations can be coworkers. However, it is the Millennial generation (people born between 1981 and 1996) that are poised to become the dominant generation in the global workforce. The multinational staffing corporation, Manpower Group predicts that by 2020, millennials will make up over a third of the world's workforce, and as such, companies will need to be prepared to meet the group’s unique needs. Companies are also trying to adapt to shifts in how, where, and when millennials work, using technology as a way to bridge the gap between their needs as employers and the millennial's expectations as employees.
According to a Deloitte study of hyper-connectivity in the workplace, texting has become so ubiquitous in people's personal and social lives, it is now a critical part of professional communication. The study's findings indicate that social media and instant messaging has also become a significant part of workplace communication and collaboration. As this trend develops, it remains important to address the diverse needs, expectations, and generational perspectives employees bring to the workplace by providing diverse communication channels. Technology has emerged as the key way forward for businesses to keep millennial employees engaged and productive.
Secondly, companies are adapting to address shifts in how, where and when employees work. This declining interest in face-to-face meetings and interactions has given rise to virtual meetings, particularly as employers allow more telecommuting or remote working arrangements. Various studies have shown that these nontraditional workers have been found to be more productive than their traditional counterparts, benefiting companies and workers alike. To ensure an environment where information is exchanged freely, companies should be looking for internal social communications solutions that go beyond phone and email, and offer multiple tools that bring employees together to eliminate communication silos.
Leveraging various communications methods can lead to better, and faster decision-making within an organization, which is a major component to growing and developing an agile business. In some cases, face-to-face interaction may still be the best way to build better business relationships, but we have seen that making video conferencing capabilities or desktop sharing capabilities readily available from a typical text-based messaging or chat system can help teams make decisions quickly to keep projects moving seamlessly. Even when employees are on the move, chat and file-sharing capabilities need to be able to keep up so that urgent tasks can be dealt with right away among employees both in the office and remote.
Breaking the ice is important for new hires. New hires can benefit from robust internal social communications tools during the onboarding process. The time typically spent by new employees learning responsibilities, organizational structure, and building relationships with coworkers severely limits productivity and can be costly for employers. More frequently, simplified communication (both from employer to employee and among employees) can get new recruits up-to-speed and keep everyone in the loop.
As digital, social, and mobile usage continues to proliferate in Southeast Asia, companies in the region will be faced with a growing group of employees who will expect the same level of connectivity in professional communications as they have grown accustomed to personal interactions—particularly as millennials continue to overtake preceeding generations as the largest group in the workforce. By deploying the right digital tools, employers can ensure that its main office workers and remote workers in the region have the tools to function as a unit for success.