In the American workforce an important generational shuffle is taking place right under our noses.
Of course, generational shuffles happen all the time as one generation starts thinking about stepping into careers, marriages, and mortgages, and another generation starts thinking about giving the boss and the bank the big kiss-off and heading someplace where you only see snow on the Weather Channel.
But what’s significant about this is that the generation now dominating the American workforce, the Millennials, came of age in the 21st century and never knew a world without the Internet or smartphones, a world in which walking face first into a closed door while reading a text message had not yet been invented.
The smartphone is a critical factor in this transformation. Millennials, who now constitute the largest segment of the American workforce, are accustomed to managing their lives and jobs on their smartphones. A 2014 Nielsen survey found that more than 85% of the 53.5 million Millennials in the workforce own smartphones. But the word “own” doesn’t really convey the relationship between Millennials and their mobile devices.
In a 2014 report, Millennials ranked their smartphones as more important than deodorant or toothbrushes. That’s not to say that Millennials have chronic hygiene issues. It’s simply a testament to where smartphones fit into the daily lives of this ascendant generation.
Millennials do everything on their smartphones -- shopping, ordering food, hiring cars, and maintaining networks that know no temporal or geographic bounds. Naturally, these people have expectations about the technology available to them on their jobs. A digitally connected young person whose smartphone does everything but make toast is not going to be impressed when you say, “Welcome aboard. Your schedule is taped to the wall in the break room.”
With all this in mind, I’ve heard of communities changing their cell phone policies by allowing employees to use their cell phones more throughout the day. I know this is a difficult issue to address, but it’s growing in popularity (because if you give some employees an inch, they’ll take a mile, and I understand that). I’m definitely not condoning nurses having their phones out while working with residents, but more and more providers are permitting cell phones during work hours. For example, caregivers can use their phones on breaks to check on their kids or family members. This provides a better work/life balance and promotes employee satisfaction, something that’s beneficial for employees and resident care.
And remember: Millennials, with their particular expectations about how technology intersects with their lives at home and at work, now dominate the labor pool, and will for the foreseeable future. If you want to attract the best and brightest, smartphones must play a significant role in how you engage with this generation in the workplace. Their smartphones are practically appendages. Why not take advantage of that relationship by leveraging the technology available to you?
And if you think Millennials have high expectations for personal technology, wait until you see what Generation Z has in mind.
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