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Are You Factoring Millennials into Your Office 365 Strategy?  

Microsoft | Posted on June 11, 2015 by Mack Ratcliffe

As the first digital natives, Millennials want things done quickly, and efficiently. You know the saying: they want everything to “just work.”

The question all IT leaders need to ask: Are you attracting and retaining this new generation of users by providing best-in-class technology at work?

With the war for talent at an all-time high, the stakes couldn’t be more significant.

Millennials aren’t coming. They’ve already arrived.

Millennials are joining the workforce at unprecedented rates. By 2020, nearly 50% of employees will be from this youthful, socially-connected cohort. With baby boomers preparing for retirement, it’s time to consider how this shift in employee demographics will impact your IT strategy.

Generation matters. A lot.

Millennials represent a significant change in terms of how your people want to work, and importantly, what it will take to keep them happy and productive.

Take for example the work we did for a large financial institution.

This company takes pride in a fresh, progressive brand that champions “leading edge” ways of simplifying the banking experience for clients. The problem was this same vision was not extended internally to employees.  Employees followed a very structured, “top-down” decision-making process using tools and methods that did not reflect the brand’s modern image.

The impact was severe. Management saw this gap was making it difficult to attract and retain younger, entry-level talent.

The good news is this story has a happy ending.

Through a move to Office 365, the organization tapped specific tools such as Yammer to enable younger employees with technologies that were familiar to them, rather than converting them to the way the organization had traditionally worked. Even before they started, the project team polled their people for feedback to ensure they were aligning their deployment strategy to real wants and demands – a best practice that is always useful in promoting adoption.

The use of Yammer was about more than providing a tool familiar to users of social media. The tool also gave voice to the broader employee community and improved transparency with senior management – something millennials value highly in an employer. Beyond surfacing feedback and new ideas, this financial institution has also used Yammer for employee recognition, research and development and as a self-serve mechanism for IT support.

So how can you be more millennially minded?

The example above reveals several key concepts in building a millennial-friendly technology environment. Here’s how you can apply a similar approach:

1: Follow. Don’t convert

Listen to your users. In our example, the employer realized they had a problem attracting millennials and decided to act on it by catering to this unique segment rather than force people to tow the company line. Adapting to employees is the first step in creating a happier more productive work environment.

2: Match the tool to the need

Now that you’ve got your mind set on building a solution that will be hospitable to this young demographic, you’ve got to decide on which tools to put in place to do the job.  For example, if you are looking to add more visibility to what people are working on, and you’d like to find a natural way for your internal teams to collaborate, a tool like Yammer will be a perfect fit. The enterprise social network tool will be immediately familiar to Facebook-versed millennials.

3: Checking in

It’s well known that this generation of worker thrives on recognition – sometimes hearing they did a good job is more valuable than a larger paycheck. But this hunger for feedback points to another important element: the need to be heard. Before embarking on any major change to your environment, it is essential you engage a diverse set of stakeholders in shaping the vision from the start. And make sure you check back in later to make any needed adjustments.

Getting Started

If you’re looking at bringing Office 365 and other next generation productivity tools to the organization, we’re prepared a suite of resources to help you out. Visit our Office 365 hub to discover downloadable templates, additional articles and a free e-book that will guide you step by step to creating a user centric, millennially approved Office 365 initiative.

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