There are several trends that are, and have been, intersecting to create changes in workplace and workforce communication. These trends include:
- Millennials as the workforce
- The hatred of email
- Increased use of mobile devices
These four things are changing the face of communication at work. I will explore each below.
Millennials As the Workforce
This is not really a “trend” this is an absolute demographic fact. However, the wants and desires of the cohort and how they communicate are working to change the nature of communication. Report after report expresses how much collaboration matters to Millennials — thus, collaboration tools have sprung up. The variety of tools available will be constantly changing as new tools are created by people who feel they have the bigger better deal. I just signed up for a new one called ScribblePost in order to see how it works. Certainly others are available and have been around longer, such as Trello, Communifire, Slack, Trello, Yammer, Chatter and many more. Picking which tool is appropriate for your workplace and your employee group will be the challenge. Here are two lists that rate various tools.
The Hatred of Email
I remember the days of interoffice memos. Then the introduction of that labor saving device called email, which, after a decade, turned into a monster to be dreaded as we waded through people learning how to use it. It was supposed to disappear, but it hasn’t. Its demise may be a long time coming. However, the newest generation of workers doesn’t have many big fans of it. Email is more of a tool of the computer, not the smart phone. Though it is possible to use email on a smart phone, it is not the most direct route to easy communication. So we have people moving to texting and sharing documents in the cloud. What may keep it around is the “documentation” value of email, both good and bad. Bill Hurley, the CMO of CenturyLink says “Millennials are more likely to use email for its prima facie use because they know there are other digital tools out there better suited for the job — whether that job is reviewing and editing a presentation or collaborating on a large document.”
We all know the value of telecommuting to workers, increased flexibility for workers, which is a highly desired state-of-being for younger workers. However, at the same time is also has an effect on collaboration, engagement, camaraderie, and employee retention. It requires an increased use of video and collaboration tools to maintain a feeling of connectedness to the workplace.
According to a report by TINYPulse “remote workers are happier at work and feel more valued, but tend to have a lower relationship with coworkers—an issue that can lead to turnover if not handled correctly.” They feel that there is going to be “…an almost unlimited potential for customization, which allows technology to cater almost exclusively to the needs of an enterprise.”
According to some, video has and will play an important part in helping people stay connected with their work group. Michael Fenlon, global and U.S. talent leader at PwC, says that “leaders should not discount the impact of video.”
Much of the change in communication will be driven by the mobile device. Step into a Starbucks to see how pervasive the use of mobile devices is. I buy my coffee using it. People have multiple conversations going on between the device and the person sitting across from them. One restaurant I frequent provides a bucket for everyone to drop their device into in order encourage conversation. Without a doubt it is the tool for coming generations, at least for the next two anyway.
To wrap this up, communication at work is in the throes of an evolution. It is not something that HR can ignore. Adapt and adopt and you will be more successful in fostering the kind of communication you want for your business.