Guest Post: Sean Matthews, Visix
Who are they, what do they want, what do they expect and how can you get the most out of them? These are questions every organization should be actively finding the answers to. The good news is that this is the most tech-savvy generation ever, and you probably already have a technological tool of unprecedented power, reach and flexibility – digital signage.
Basically, Millennials are people currently in their 20s (though the category extends to as low as 18 and even into the early 30s as well). They are the most racially diverse generation ever, making up 43% of primary working age minorities. Nationally, only around 56% of Millennials are white (compared to 75% of the US as a whole and 61% of Baby Boomers), though this will vary according to the state (for example, in California, less than a third of Millennials are white and in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Georgia and New Jersey less than half are white). This trend is intensifying with the post-millennial generation, the children of Millennials, who are only around 51% white overall.
Yet most Millennials feel like they are part of a coherent generation – racial and cultural diversity is a “given”, and expected and encouraged. They came of age in the era of the internet, social media and other technological advances, which makes them quite different from previous generations. Boomers and Generation Xers remember the ancient time of rotary dial telephones, of making arrangements to meet far in advance, or actually standing up to manually change TV channels.
For Millennials, communication has always been easy, fast and flexible, even with people quite far away. With the advent of mobile devices, like smartphones, they are constantly in communication with anyone they wish to be, no matter where they are. Being connected to others is standard for this generation.
Possibly as a result of this, Millennials want to feel part of a larger community, part of something worthwhile. If they don’t get what they want from a job, apart from the salary, they tend to move on to somewhere else. 42% of Millennials expect to change jobs every 1-3 years, and employee turnover from this generation costs the US economy $30.5 billion a year.
Only 29% of Millennials say they are actively engaged at work, 55% say they are not engaged and 16% are actively disengaged. Yet 64% of engaged Millennials say they are less likely to switch jobs, even if the job market improves in the next year. Getting them actively engaged at work is vital to making them happy and keeping them around. So how do you engage them? What do they want from their employers?
When choosing a place to work, 78% say that “workplace quality” is important. By that, they mean things above and beyond the money:
- Professional Development – 87% say PD and career growth are very important, and 59% say opportunities for these are extremely important when applying for a job.
- Flexibility – 19% say this is the most important workplace benefit, 49% say this would increase their happiness, and 59% say it would increase productivity.
- Mobility – 73% of Millennials say they would prefer to work from home or other locations more conducive to their work styles, yet currently only 43% currently have the option to do so.
- Collaboration – 33% of Millennials want collaborative workspaces, and 49% support social tools for workplace collaboration. They also want to feel like their ideas are being taken on board by higher-ups.
- Recognition – 26% of Millennials say that recognition motivates them to do their best work. Several studies show they need a fairly constant stream of support, recognition and evaluation in order to measure how they are doing.
None of these should come as any surprise. This is a generation that lives on social media, where they are constantly collaborating with others, receiving recognition, have multiple options and platforms, can interact with others from pretty much anywhere, and have access to the entire contents of the world wide web anytime they want.
It may seem like a time burden to someone from an older generation – constantly check in with these younger workers, evaluate them, give them feedback and opportunities, figure out ways they can collaborate and still meet deadlines, and do your own job as well. Technology like your digital signs can help.
Millennials already spend a good deal of their time looking at one kind of screen or another, so displays placed in high traffic areas are a great way to reach them and get them engaged without spending hours with each one individually. They are very comfortable with an environment that is saturated with information. While digital signage might still seem somewhat new or “cool” to some Boomers and Xers, Millennials see it as a given – an extension of how they live their lives.
It’s a common image these days… a group of people sitting around, apparently friends or co-workers, each on a smartphone, not communicating. But in fact, they are communicating – partly on the web and social media platforms, and partly they are looking things up and exploring the online world for things they can talk about to share with one another. This is a multi-tasking generation, used to receiving data from multiple inputs. It is almost impossible to overload Millennials with too much information. In fact, the more that’s available to them, the happier they are.
To apply all these ideas to your digital signage, think about the way Millennials interact with the web, with their friends and colleagues, and with their mobile devices.
- You can have more messages in a playlist, and show them more frequently.
- You can have more variety in the types of messages you display, as well as the design of those messages.
- Push your digital signage playlists out to mobile devices. The smartphones and tablets they carry with them everywhere is another way to get them interested.
- Share social media, YouTube and infotainment channels on your displays. Drive traffic from your digital signage to collaborative online sites, and vice versa.
- Recognize them with birthday messages and other micro recognition.
- Recognize individuals and teams for achieving targets and keeping things on track.
- Display real-time data and progress towards goals, so everyone is focusing on the same things.
- Be funny. Humor is important, and things Millennials find amusing are more likely to be shared.
- Gamify as much as you can. Turn things into contests and fun competitions, which not only reward people who perform well or who get engaged early, but helps create a sense of participating in a community.
- Find ways to make your digital communications a two-way street. Have links to online forums or surveys, or push traffic to webpages where people can leave comments.
Include messages that are not just about work. Many Millennials feel social issues are as important to life as work, so let them know about opportunities to help out in the community, or initiatives and charities the company is involved in. It’s been said that the current increase in corporate philanthropy is a direct result of the influence of Millennials. 63% of them say they want their employer to contribute to important causes (compared to around 50% for Boomers and Xers). Many Millennials spend time and money on causes – 81% have donated money, goods or services in the short time they have been working and earning.
It truly is about much more than just the money for this generation. Many say they’d prefer to work at a lower paying job that they love, than a higher paying one they don’t. Perhaps the best thing you can do is get some of your Millennials on board with your digital signage – advising, creating content, developing campaigns, and thinking about all the types of messages and information that they would find engaging. And if they’re engaged, they’re happy. If they’re happy, they work harder and longer, are more productive and innovative, and less likely to seek employment elsewhere.
Sean Matthews is President and CEO of Visix, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Visix’s AxisTV enterprise digital signage software allows clients to create, manage and schedule organizational communications from anywhere and to deliver messages, media and alerts to virtually any endpoint. Visix also provides award-winning content design, meeting room signs and applications for targeted messaging to desktops and personal devices for a complete digital signage solution.