Digital transformation is a powerful thing. It can improve collaboration and communication in the workforce, enhance products and services, and even make workflow more efficient. Unfortunately, great DX requires a cohesive business team – and we don’t exactly have that in today’s marketplace.
Experts say that by 2020, most companies will be working with up to five different generations at once. Each of those generations has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and part of paving the way to success for your business means knowing how to optimise each strength effectively. For instance, one study found that Gen X-ers are great business minds, but struggle with executive presence, while Gen Y-er’s are terrible team players.
How Different are the Generations, Really?
Each generation has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Generation Y seems to be the most technologically adept, and the most enthusiastic in the workforce (68% of respondents agree), but they’re not great team players. Additionally, only about 45% of people consider Gen Y-ers to be “hardworking”.
On the other hand, Generation X is rife with incredible managerial potential (70% of respondents agree). They’re great at generating revenue and are highly adaptable. However, they’re not very good at displaying executive presence (28%), and they aren’t very cost-effective either. This group is the one most likely to abandon a workplace that doesn’t offer flexibility options.
Finally, Baby boomers are ranked the highest for productivity in their organisation (69%), with hardworking attitudes and exceptional teamwork. However, they’re not very adaptable to the current state of digital transformation and struggle to manage with the latest technology.
Digital Transformation Across Generations
It’s safe to say that the generations all have different ideas of how the modern business should work. For instance, Millennials today are currently focusing on a future that involves more flexibility and remote-working opportunities. After all, 41% of the workforce should be working from home in the next few years. Additionally, reports suggest that remote workers have the potential to log more hours for their companies.
The truth is that implementing digital transformation into any business means understanding how you can involve all the different groups across your organisation. A great leader not only recognises the need for growth but looks for new ways to implement it that could benefit his or her team. For instance, here are a few suggestions that could help you to bring DX to your workplace.
Step 1: Build Better Company Culture
The word “culture” has become something of a buzzword in recent years, but when it comes to bringing the different generations in your team together, culture is crucial. You need to design a workplace that shows your employees you value their differences, and make sure that everyone gets included. For instance, you might pair Millennials with Baby boomers in projects where they can assist each other.
The newer generations in the workforce are the ones that are more focused on a culture of inclusion and collaboration. For instance, millennials prefer working with other members of a team to accomplish their goals. One study found that 38% of millennials believe that old collaboration processes damage company innovation. The key for true digital transformation, of course, is to find a solution that brings all the different generations in your group together, rather than just allowing millennials to collaborate more effectively.
Step 2: Embrace the Differences
While it might feel a lot easier to simply pretend that all your employees are thinking and feeling the same way – it’s not going to get you very far in the way of digital transformation. For instance, you need to realise that younger employees who work faster on technology might feel frustrated when they need to wait on older baby boomers who aren’t as quick at adapting to new software.
Digital transformation doesn’t necessarily mean embracing new technology without any consideration of your team. Instead, it’s about considering which new solutions will best support your organisation. For instance, while older people might prefer in-person meetings, millennials are more comfortable with technology to give them their face-to-face experiences. This could mean that you consider bringing your baby boomers into a huddle room to collaborate with millennials who connect over conference phones and video. After all, 87% of millennials believe that video has a positive impact on an organisation.
Step 3: Encourage Mentoring
Social learning and peer-to-peer mentoring can be a great way to improve your business culture and ensure that mixed generations throughout the workforce understand each other as well as possible. It can also mean that you begin to encourage deeper relationships throughout your workforce. Since relationships are crucial to great business performance, this can be a great way to get started.
Mentoring older employees on technology and digital transformation could even help your millennial employees to find more meaning in their work. This is particularly valuable when you consider the fact that 30% of millennials consider meaningful work to be important. Today’s younger employees feel uncomfortable staying at companies where they can’t find value in their work.
Step 4: Focus on Agility over Skills
Sometimes, it feels as though if you don’t have a degree, it’s practically impossible to get a great job, because HR databases filter people out who don’t have the right skill sets. However, smaller companies have got it right when it comes to digital transformation, as they’re beginning to look into online presence when deciding whether or not someone is right for their business.
Although it’s important to find people with the right tech talents when it comes to hiring for digital transformation purposes, it’s worth remembering that today’s resources are evolving so quickly that no set of tech skills is going to stay relevant for too long. As knowledge doubles each year, skills have a half-life of up to five years max. That’s why talent “agility” should be crucial to a DX plan.
Step 5: Introduce Transparency
Finally, today’s workers love transparency in their organisations. This is something that will become particularly important in the world of digital transformation, as businesses continue to grow and change at a rapid pace. If you want to make sure that your workers stay on track and devoted to your cause, then you need to make sure that they’re kept up-to-date on the latest developments in your digital environment and strategy.
Transparency is one of the main qualities that millennials look for in their employers, and no matter the generation, all the staff in your company are looking for honesty from their leaders. If possible, make sure that you begin your approach to digital transformation with an open culture, where there are no barriers in communication. The more open a business is, the more successful it can become.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.