Millenial employees and internal communications

Like most of you I’ve read acres of stuff about employees being advocates, ambassadors, etc, etc.  Then I browsed a piece in The Economist earlier this year pointing out that CEOs who thought they were most engaged with their internal stakeholders were in turned viewed as remote and unaccountable by their own staff.   So something is still not right in many corporates.  Just because you think you’ve got the workers onside doesn’t mean you have.

How can messages be cascaded effectively from the boardroom to the massed ranks?  Well, digital is going to be the main route.  Baby boomers in management positions will retire in the next few years and Forbes estimates that 30% of companies will soon be digital savvy Millenials – in spite of all the column inches about those born post-1988 not having jobs…it seems many will find employment and make up, inevitably, a growing share of the workforce.  And do they want to read staff magazines or glossy pamphlets – do they ever!  It’s all going to have to be online, interactive, engaging and collaborative.  I can smell the fear from here.

“Cascading the message” down has always struck me as a horrible and archaic turn of phrase (even though I just used it!) that only a baby boomer would find acceptable.  Your Millenial workforce will not wish to be cascaded down to – thank you very much.  They want to be integrated into the decision making processes and feel that their work has meaning.  Is this a bad thing?  No, of course not.  We’re not working on 1970s production lines now – young employees are right to assume that real decision making in many areas has to be decentralised.  Of course the board has its hand on the tiller and determines the overall strategic direction – but modern companies rely on motivated, thoughtful people to make all the cogs go round.

Sadly, many employers hate this kind of talk and that will explain their lousy retention rates (30% of employees still feel disengaged from their work) and mistakes through slovenly practice or even petty sabotage. In contrast, other companies are tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit that Generation Y employees undoubtedly possess.  They are creative, happy to band together into small groups to problem solve and arguably more self-motivated and self-assured than previous office-bound generations.  Why not both embrace and nurture this through online spaces – create thought sharing hubs on the intranet for example.

There’s a lot of hot air expelled by boomer employers and politicians about feckless youth unprepared to develop the skills (or let down by those evil schools and universities) to do the job.  I suspect a lot of companies find difficulty hiring because they’re not very interesting places to work in.  To be honest, I walk into some companies and it’s like I got into a time machine and went back to life under Thatcher.  Like it or not, Millenials detect the lack of collaborative working practices and motivation and wander off somewhere else.  Companies that make a virtue of involving employees in decisions and reward those who generate ideas (silly companies like Google) attract the best talent.

So what to do?  Well, apart from contacting Rostra Consulting (obviously! http://www.rostraconsulting.com) look at some daring moves.  Ipads for employees allowing them to be completely mobile and more easily make very visual presentations.  Why not introduce social media style intranets like Yammer, developed by Microsoft – don’t be scared of your employees talking to each other!  Closed apps for leadership teams and divisions – Shell spend millions on apps developed by boutique agencies.  The list is endless – get digital people or watch your Millenials walk!

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One thought on “Millenial employees and internal communications

  1. Your insight is spot on. Thanks for sharing. I frequently encounter the “millennial employees” in discussions with executive management that do understand that we need to move in a new direction. You’ve inspired me to write an article that enabled people to assess how ready their organization is for a platform like Yammer. Thanks!

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