In 2015, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. According to the Pew Research Center, there were 53.5 million Millennials – those workers born between 1982 and 2000 – in the workforce that year, surpassing Generation X and its 52.7 million. And their numbers are growing. Different studies have found that Millennials are 35 to 40 percent of the current global workforce, with predictions of those numbers going up to as high as 75 percent in the next 10 years.
Millennials are the first wave of digital-native workers. They have grown up in a world of mobility, always online and constantly connected. Smartphones are not simply tools for getting things done, but foundational parts of both their personal and work lives. They are the portals for communicating with others, getting online, accessing applications and cloud services, consuming entertainment, shopping, and generally getting work done.
Statistics back this up. According to numbers collected by marketing site DMR, 86 percent of Millennials in the United States own a smartphone, and Millennials spend an average of 19 hours a week on their devices. Eighty-three percent say they text with their smartphones more than they make calls. They most likely have never had to deal with a dial-up modem, and for them, a phone has primarily been a tool for playing video games, sending texts, finding information and getting directions, Beloit College said in a list compiled to illustrate the mindset of the college class of 2021.
That mindset is quickly becoming dominant in the workplace, and it’s through their smartphones and tablets that these younger tech-savvy employees communicate through text, chat, video conferences and video chat apps, and email. These devices are driving the productivity of many of these workers, and are used in both internal and external communications as well as accessing data and applications.
Millennials prefer cell phones for office communication
In a recent survey by Zinwave, we found that cell phones are now the second most-popular business communication tool behind email, and the second-fastest growing. Companies big and small are acknowledging that Millennials would rather use their mobile devices than desk phones, and some like KPMG are removing desk phones altogether.
Additionally, Zinwave found that Millennials use their cell phones at work more than other generations of workers, and 46.1 percent said they’re using their mobile device more now than a year ago. That is sure to go up as more Millennials come into the workforce.
Businesses need to be ready for this generation of workers, and the members of Generation Z who are coming up behind them and are an even larger and more mobile group than Millennials. High on the list of business must-haves has to be reliable in-building cellular connectivity and designing connectivity into the workplace.
In another Zinwave survey, while complaints of unreliable coverage were widespread in U.S. businesses, it was Millennials—many of whom can’t remember a time when connectivity wasn’t nearly 100 percent reliable—who were more likely to complain about frequent problems with cellular coverage and the frustration and loss of productivity it causes. They demand strong indoor signals, and businesses need to take note, because the survey also found that Millennials are now less likely to lay the blame for poor coverage on the carriers. Instead, they are increasingly—at 58 percent—pointing the finger at their companies or the building owners.
Millennials won’t stay with an employer that can’t provide reliable indoor cellular connectivity
And another note of caution for these organizations: uninterrupted coverage is the expectation, and many Millennials are unlikely to work in a building or for a business that can’t provide constant connectivity. In the DRM figures, 42 percent of Millennials said they were likely to quit a job if their employer had substandard technology. So the issue of poor cellular coverage not only is about productivity, but attracting and keeping talented workers.
Millennials aren’t going to put up with the spotty coverage or slow performance that can come from WiFi networks. What companies must do is invest in a cellular connectivity solution that not only is highly reliable, but also one that is adaptable, flexible and future-proof. Millennials are driving the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend into the office, which means myriad types and brands of devices, cellular services and frequencies will need to be supported. The solution needs to be flexible and vendor-agnostic.
For the same reasons, the system needs to be able to add more carriers and frequencies without having to add hardware or cabling, which can be expensive and disruptive to businesses. Millennials will continue to come to the workplace with new devices and carrier plans but with the same expectations of connectivity. The in-building solution needs to adapt to meet those expectations, and as more frequencies are introduced, they need to be supported as well.
Millennials will continue to make up an increasingly large portion of the global workforce, and right behind them is Gen Z. They are mobile-first in both their personal and work lives and come with expectations that the cellular connectivity in their workplaces will support their mobile lifestyles. It’s something that businesses need to understand and be ready for, because if spotty coverage hinders their employees’ productivity and drive up workplace frustration, the result can be talented workers leaving and the business not being able to replace them. In the end, ensuring reliable in-building connectivity is a business imperative that executives will ignore at their own peril.
Download the complete 2017 Office Communications Trends report for additional insights and suggestions on how to ensure your company is ready to support the preferences of the next generation of workers.