Changes in Communication: Good For Millennials…and the rest of us
December 6, 2018
Mary van Balen
There’s lots of talk about Millennials in the workplace. It won’t be long before Generation Z will be the topic of discussion. But for the moment, Millennials comprise the majority of younger workers. Some conversations highlight the challenges they’ve brought to the workplace like their willingness to leave a position after a short time in order to work in place that offers faster upward mobility. Or maybe their need for constant feedback and coaching. Some talk focuses on more positive traits like familiarity with new technology, preference for collaboration, and valuing diversity.
No matter the buzz, no one disputes that, according to a Brookings Institution report, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. So, whatever you think about the new wave of workers, the fact remains that they are here and making an impact. Have you considered that the changes Millennials are making in the workplace can mean improvements for everyone?
Take communication for example. We know how important good communication skills are in all areas of our lives, and work is no exception. Millennials bring new styles and expectations of communication with them into the office. They want to be heard and value the opportunity to share their ideas openly and honestly with their managers. Annual or even quarterly performance assessments don’t work. Millennials (and most of us) want consistent feedback that’s given in a timely fashion, not weeks later. “Remember the project you finished last month? You did a nice job,” just doesn’t cut it. Emails may be on the way out, replaced by tools like live chat and project management platforms.
While these tips may be especially helpful in working with the younger workers, following them can improve communication across the board.
Take “Keep it short,” for example. I’m a storyteller by nature and enjoy hearing about what others are up to as well as sharing interesting tidbits from my own recent experiences. Maybe the discovery of an unexpected venue for amazing jazz and ribs. Or info about a good book or movie. Sharing this type of information can help coworkers get to know one another and provide a break during a stressful day. But including it in an email or text addressing a practical business, is distracting and can turn off younger employees before they ever get to the heart of the message.
Knowing when to keep things short and to the point and when to enjoy more casual conversation helps keep business processes flowing smoothly for everyone.
As Hammett mentions, communication isn’t always verbal. In the workplace, the written word in emails, messaging, and a variety of forms convey large amounts of information to employees. Besides keeping it short and sweet as she recommends for millennials, making sure the messages arrive in a timely manner is essential.
Some software applications can help eliminate glitches that occur when information doesn’t get to the right people in time, is lost, or simply forgotten. For example, a strong human resource management system like Sage HRMS along with plugins can streamline processes and automate sending timely email or text alerts to make sure the message is getting out.
Better for all of us
Responding to the expectations of millennial workers encourage us to take a closer look at our individual skills and communication in our workplaces. Improvements that result—including learning new technologies, better and more frequent feedback, attentive listening, and openness—will benefit us all.
Mary van Balen is based out of Columbus, Ohio and is a writer for Delphia Consulting. Mary contributes to the Delphia blog on Human Resources issues and Delphia Consulting and Sage product related updates.