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Millennials may be the secret to success in an age of digital disruption

By Catherine Knowles
Wed 20 Apr 2016
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Companies are desperate for technology leadership but are overlooking tech-savvy millennials, a new research study from Epicor Software Corporation finds. In order to fuel growth, organisations must invest in attracting, engaging and supporting the next-gen workforce, Epicor says.

While millennials are expected to account for 75% of the global workforce by 2025, business executives are not thinking too much about recruiting them, the report states.

In fact, only 39% said recruiting millennials was a ‘fairly significant’ or ‘major’ focus for their organisations, revealing a critical disconnect as ‘technology leadership’ and a ‘skilled workforce’ were top growth stimulants identified by those polled - elements that today’s highly connected, technologically advanced millennials can well facilitate, the report finds.

With the working age population shrinking and baby boomers heading into retirement, millennial talent will be a key element to drive business growth in the next decade, the report finds.

“The relative indifference in recruiting millennials to the workplace is especially surprising considering they are the fastest-growing generation [...], and are both technology proficient and digital literate. Businesses that recognise and move to leverage millennial talent can gain significant competitive advantage in today’s age of digital disruption,” says Celia Fleischaker, Epicor Software senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

“Our research reveals many human resource challenges stand in the way of business growth that technology can help address. Organisations must re-think their relationship with digitally-literate workers and retool their organisations to attract, connect and empower this next-generation workforce via cloud, mobile, analytics and other enabling technologies,” Fleischaker says.

Many organisations are working to develop the technology infrastructure that is necessary to attract and support the workforce of the future, according to the report. In fact, 79% of business leaders surveyed have made, or are making, investments in integrated IT infrastructure.

Sitting at the intersection of workers and systems to unite information and execution, technology plays a vital role in reducing complexity, improving the quality of work life, and enhancing productivity, Epicor says.

Freeing valuable staff from mundane tasks was considered important by 68% of those polled whereas using technology to automate key processes, along with allowing key individuals to focus on more stimulating tasks, was cited as a top goal of 67% of those surveyed. 

What’s more, technology is necessary to prepare businesses for the next iteration of work encompassing robotics and artificial intelligence, he says.

“Today we’re talking about workforce strategies concerning millennials; tomorrow we’ll be talking about key considerations in the next workplace evolution - when millennials meet machines,” says Fleischaker.

When it comes to staff retention, one-quarter of execs surveyed said they struggle to retain the best staff, and 59% said they are concerned about this issue. Furthermore, without the right technology in place, organisations can run the risk of staff overload resulting in burn out and attrition, the report finds.

In fact, 43% of business execs are concerned that growth can increase workloads to a level that places too much pressure on staff prompting key people to leave to work in a more strategic, knowledge-centered role at a larger competitor (40%), or at a company with better technology support (29%). Ensuring access to all the information employees need to do their jobs was considered to be an important factor in retaining key staff by three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed.

Intuitive systems and user interface design can help employees get up and running quickly - especially beneficial for millennials who want to have an immediate impact in the workplace, Epicor says. On-screen guided assistance, embedded training can ensure systems are easy to learn and use. Organisations can support access to information anytime, anywhere via mobile and social capabilities and streamline insights to action through analytics and dashboards, the company says.

Nearly 19% of those surveyed say they currently do not have enough skilled or experienced staff and nearly a quarter (23%) of business executives surveyed say it is difficult to recruit skilled workers.

Most notably, there is a shift in emphasis from employee retention to worker engagement and a move to institutionalise knowledge to ensure virtual worldwide talent pools can effortlessly engage/collaborate. Social collaboration makes it easier for employees to contribute and transfer institutional knowledge, supporting effective employee on boarding and overall productivity, Epicor finds.

“Ironically, the upside of an ever-shifting workforce is that organisations can benefit from a constant ‘revolving door’ of talent to capitalise on an influx of news ideas, new perspectives and out-of-the-box disruptive thinking that can be key to commanding market share,” says Fleischaker.

“Ambition and entrepreneurial spirit was cited by 30% of CEOs surveyed as a key stimulant to growth. Industry research shows a strong positive correlation between collaboration and innovation. Leveraging the cloud and enterprise social networking can support anytime anywhere collaboration for business that knows no boundaries, allowing organisations to capture innovation upside."

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