Technology in the workplace is meant to bring employees together, not divide them. However, each generation brings a unique perspective and different preferences when it comes to using technology.
In a typical workplace, there could be as much as a 40-year age gap between some employees and their colleagues. As a workplace leader, it’s your responsibility to support all generations and provide them with the tools they need to be productive. Here are some tips for implementing technology that works for everyone, whether they’re Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials or Generation Z.
Importance of Technology In the Workplace
The importance of technology in a modern office can't be overstated. Technology keeps your organization organized and keeps employees connected, allowing them to collaborate wherever they happen to be working.
The best workplace technology improves productivity by removing friction, making it easy for employees to do things like share files, manage projects and keep things running smoothly. And as one of three major factors that impact the employee experience (along with the physical workplace and company culture) technology also plays an important role in recruitment and retention.
How To Use Technology To Improve Communication
Successful adoption of technology in the workplace relies on understanding your workforce on a more personal level. Ask employees what matters to them. Here are some general guidelines to consider when thinking about how different generations view technology…
- Baby Boomers care about maintaining opportunities for face-to-face communication.
- Gen Xers need technology that helps them do their jobs but isn’t necessarily integral to completing every single task.
- Millennials want technology that facilitates collaboration and teamwork and enables a mobile lifestyle.
- Generation Z requires technology that supports a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environment and mirrors the technology they use in their personal lives.
Learn about employees’ expectations regarding technology in the workplace. Which features do they absolutely need, and which would be nice to have? Which qualities would make them hesitant to use the technology, and which would be total deal-breakers?
Using Technology To Improve Productivity
Variety may be the spice of life, but increasing the number of workplace technologies is not necessarily a good thing—especially if you’re using technology for technology’s sake. You can’t have employees using multiple different systems; this will do more damage than good. But if you choose technology that seamlessly integrates into your company’s existing infrastructure, is user-friendly and accessible remotely, you can kill several birds with the same stone.
Because employees have gotten so used to using apps, more organizations are adopting workplace apps of their own. These apps empower employees by allowing them to do things like finding and reserving rooms, requesting service and receiving mail or visitors.
Consolidating several applications into a single, easy-to-use, mobile-friendly interface means …
- Baby Boomers won’t have to worry about learning how to use complex new technology.
- Gen Xers won’t need to abandon or dramatically change their existing workflows.
- Millennials can have even greater flexibility in their schedule and work location.
- Members of Generation Z can complete more tasks on their smartphones and tablets.
Technology in the workplace should be designed to streamline the transfer of data and knowledge sharing without disrupting your employees. Do your research to find a happy medium that best supports the goals of your organization and your workforce.
Adapt Your Communication Style
A common stereotype of younger Millennials and most of Generation Z is that they tend to ignore the “phone” aspect of a smartphone. But, in this case, that cliche is actually true. A study by LivePerson found that 75 percent of Millennials and members of Generation Z prefer to communicate via text as opposed to calling someone.
This communication style demonstrates that Millennials and Generation Z prefer to consume information on their own time. A phone conversation requires an immediate response to a question or comment (unless you want to deal with awkward silences). But with texting, a person doesn’t have to reply right away; they can do so at their leisure.
Obviously there are many situations that require a face-to-face conversation. But if you can sum it up in a sentence or two, your younger employees in particular will appreciate using quick, simple communication via Slack or other messaging apps. This type of workplace technology cuts down on the constant interruptions of stopping by someone’s desk with every little thing.
Now, with Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, the exact opposite is true. Baby Boomers tend to prefer communicating with someone directly through a face-to-face conversation. And Gen Xers are perfectly fine with either an in-person conversation or even a phone call. Whenever possible, adjust your communication style to the one with which an employee is most comfortable.
Treat Each Person as an Individual
Many of those who belong to a particular generation have had similar experiences in their professional lives, so they likely have similar expectations about using technology in the workplace.
But no Baby Boomer, Gen-Xer, Millennial or member of Generation Z is exactly alike. That’s why it’s so important to consider individual preferences and your employees and adapt your communication and management style accordingly. Having a variety of tools available and allowing employees the freedom to choose the one that meets their needs.
No matter which route you take, you simply cannot satisfy every employee. But as long as your workforce knows their input matters and their needs are respected, they’ll be much more willing to compromise.