3 must-haves when designing a Digital Workplace for your tech generations

Tech-savvy generations are taking over the workplace. Can your organization keep up?

As your organization ages over time, the face of your workforce changes. Although you may have just gotten used to the traits and needs of your Boomers and Generation Xers, new generations are beginning to flood your ranks. Your tech generations (Y & Z) are making their debut into the workplace, and this blend of generations will require a different approach.

The rise of technology has profoundly influenced the world. We see its effects spread across all features of our daily lives and the workplace is no different. The tech generations have no idea what it’s like to be without technology — they were raised in a world where technology easily connects everyone to their needs. It’s this very ease of access and communication that they expect to be present in their workplace.

Welcoming these generations means more than giving them a fitting role in your organization. You must adapt your workplace to suit their needs or risk losing this growing workforce and crippling your future success.

How do we keep them all happy and ensure a higher rate of retention as a result? The first step is understanding their needs.

The Tech Generational Gap

Your older and younger generations are intermingling, and this combo is bringing a new problem to the forefront.

You may feel like you have finally gotten used to the needs of your Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, but your tech-savvy generations are vastly different. To find out which technologies you’ll need to incorporate into your business, you must first recognize the generational differences.

There is loads of research out there that attempts to define the unique characteristics of each generation. However, it is important not to fall prey to the stereotyping. Instead, what you want is a generational profile. Something that explains how events and technologies in the workplace truly shape these groups of people.

According to research, the attitude around things like communication, social technology and professional development differs depending on each group.

For instance, 65% of baby boomers plan to work past age 65, so their concerns lie less with giving them the latest in technology and more with appropriate medical and financial support.

On the other side is your Gen Xers. Contrary to popular belief, they are not only adventurous but also rather adept at technology. We all know that one parent obsessed with Candy Crush. Technology fascinates them but is not a “requirement”, unlike your Gen Ys and Zs.

Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017 shows that only 31% of millennials plan to stay at their jobs beyond five years. 38% say that they’ll leave their jobs within two years. One of their most significant issues — outdated technology. Younger workers perceive this technology as a perk, and without it, retention of these generation’s is unlikely.

Creating a digital landscape for digital natives might just be the key to keeping your best talent. Here’s how to create a digital workplace your tech generations will love with three technology must-haves.

#1: Social Apps

Social connections are something that we all crave regardless of age.

A recent report from Nielsen found that Generation X, or people between the ages of 35 to 49, spend almost seven hours a week on social media. Millennials, aged between 18 and 34, spend a little more than 6 hours per week. By contrast, people over 50 spend about 4 hours a week on social media.

No one is unaffected by the desire to communicate anywhere, at any time and various technologies have been created to cater to that very need.

Connecting people all over the world instantly is a powerful tool, one that more and more companies are taking advantage of.

Gone are the days where face-to-face meetings and email were preferred methods of communication. Convenience and speed are at the foreground with professional technologies like Slack, Trello, and Twitter making instant communication a possibility.

senior leaders can communicate with staff using social tools

Your tech generations are enjoying that flexibility in their personal lives, and it has become a requirement in their professional ones. Social technology has the power to connect distributed employees, open up communication with staff from any location and allow Millennials to focus their time and effort into their jobs without restrictions.

These apps have a concrete role to play in the digital workplace, and tech generations know it. Give your staff the accessibility they crave, and they’ll be more inclined to stick around.

#2: Gamification (Feedback and Recognition)

Although Boomers and Gen Xers may have a more nonsensical viewpoint of social tools in the workplace, the one thing they can all agree on is the need to reap the rewards for their efforts. This same need is one you’ll find in all employees, especially those in the tech generation.

For Millennials and Gen Z, recognition and praise are not all about money. While they expect to be fairly compensated for their role, recognition goes beyond that. It is the difference between employees feeling “checked out” or unengaged.

A lack of recognition programs in your workplace can play a large role in why 55% of millennials claim not to be engaged in their roles.

Good work deserves recognition, and incorporating gamification and rewards programs are just one way to do it.

Gamification is the use of game design techniques and mechanics in a non-game context to engage users – a perfect addition to any digital workplace.

63% of American adults said that making everyday activities more like a game would make them more fun and rewarding. Reaching new levels and completing quests makes the brain release dopamine, prompting excitement, increasing drive and helping to encourage productivity.

With gamification, you give your team incentive to excel through perks or other recognition programs. For example, our Donuts Program here at Interact guarantees a company-wide recognition moment via the intranet. At Interact, each employee is assigned a monthly ‘quota’ of virtual reward currency – aka donuts – that they can award to their peers. It’s a way to say, ‘thank you’ and for managers to award recognition to employees.

Interact rewards

Adding these programs to your digital workplace will not only satisfy your current staff but act as a welcoming feature for new and interested talent.

#3: Learning Management System or E-learning

The generation gap exhibits a slight difference in the ways groups view education. For Boomers, they value education as a way to get ahead but prefer to accomplish growth on their own, without the input of others.

The Gen X way is similar in that they also believer in the importance of education. However, the contrast is in the expectation that the company pay for any educational opportunities.

Now, your tech generations also recognize the importance of professional development and believe that education is the fastest way to achieve that. Sadly, this group gets a bad reputation for wanting to progress faster than what is seen as ‘professional’, but here’s why…

With Millennials and Gen Z, education is not a motive for getting ahead; it is a part of who they are. These younger generations grew up in front of a computer screen and have fully integrated technology into their lives. They expect workplace technologies to mirror their personal experiences.

digital workplace tech
Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

According to Gallup’s, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live”, 87% of millennials say professional development is vital to them in a job. Introduce digitally based certification programs, training applications and learning management to engage and retain your tech generations.

The “job hopping’ generation does not have time for long training sessions. Microlearning and Learning Management Systems are a dream come true for those short attention spanners and can satisfy the millennial preference for rapid learning on the go.

Your staff is able to learn and advance from any location, train alongside equally motivated colleagues, and track all their accomplishments at the click of a button.

A workplace for digital natives

Incorporating these technologies will help you design a digital workplace that can suit your employees’ needs. To learn more about what your tech generations crave from the digital workplace and determine what future trends to look out for, download our free eBook, “What are your tech generations looking for in the digital workplace“.