The Changing Workforce and the App Generation
Industry leaders need to recognize the imminent arrival of a generation of workers who have grown up in the digital age. The incoming generation of workers is very often referred to the “App Generation,” and they are bringing a shake-up when it comes to traditional work environments, thanks to their upbringing in the post-modern world and technology-driven education.
Recent Studies on Young People and the Workplace
Through a report conducted by Fuze on today's youth (the app generation) and their implementation in the workforce, it has become increasingly evident that growing up in the age of the smartphone has had a considerable impact on the way in which people approach work. For the youth of today, ‘there’s an app for that’ isn’t just a bit of advertising. It’s a truism that has proven self-evident over the course of their lives and education. It’s understandable that the app generation workforce expects a certain level of technological empowerment considering that schools across Canada are providing students with technology in the form of tablets, smart boards, and student web portals from which to work.
This visibly emphasizes the potential empowerment of technology to the students as they watch their chalkboards and paper be replaced by technology in the most literal sense. Indeed, according to the study, 72% of app generation (15-18) members surveyed agreed that having the latest technology will be important when they enter the workforce.
Perhaps an even greater driver of their expectation of a workforce empowered by technology comes from the state of the consumer market, with consumer devices offering usability, accessibility, and integration. Having grown up with these technologies, the app generation has an understandable expectation of similar technological capabilities while operating within the workforce.
Many IT leaders recognize the importance of the younger generation in driving workforces towards technology, with 82 percent of workers agreeing that young people will help refresh their business’s approach to technology.
Expectations of the New Workforce
The workforce of tomorrow demands technology that suits the way it not only desires to work, but the way it has worked in the past. With schools and households across North America preaching collaboration, interaction, and feedback, it's unsurprising that the app generation expects a level of connectivity, and collaboration, which has been largely unseen in the workforces of past generations.
It’s also unsurprising that young people have less regard for the importance of office environments, with 78% saying they’d like to be able to work from home sometimes, and 57% saying working from the office is generally preferable. Even more strikingly perhaps, 85% of app generation respondents agreed that being able to work flexibly, from a variety of places at varying points in time is important to their ability to produce.
An equally striking 83% of respondents agreed that being at the office isn’t a necessity to being productive. A mere 7% of app generation respondents believe there is no benefit to working anywhere other than the office, compared to the 11% for all demographics surveyed.
What are the Central Ideas?
What central theme then surrounds the Red Eye Future of Work White Paper and Fuze’s study results? Today's workers (and especially up and coming app generation members) want greater flexibility with regards to how and where they work. We can additionally see that many of today's workers (even those outside of the app generation) are frustrated with the level of IT empowerment happening (or rather not happening) in their workforce.
An additional focus of the Fuze study is that, despite spending hours communicating using their mobile phones, members of the app generation spend considerably less time talking on the phone. This is also seen in their feelings about the importance of desk phones, with most respondents not considering it critical technology for business.
Wising up to this trend in the younger demographic, some 60% of adult workers surveyed believed that over time email and messaging apps will overtake voice-based communication with customers and coworkers. Otherwise, an increase in VoIP voice over IP phone systems adoption which works directly with their cellphone seems like a probable trend.
Being used to having the options available (because there is an app for everything), app generation employees are frequently found to stand in opposition to the one size fits all mentally, preferring technology which is “consumerized,” and designed to meet the requirements of the individual user. This runs counter to the typical approach to business IT, wherein the two primary considerations have (up to this point) been ‘does it get the job done’ and ‘is it overly expensive?’
It's Time for an IT Revamp
By reproaching and re-examining the foundational building blocks of your internal it system, your business can increase flexibility and be better aligned with the inevitable future of work, and the expectations of the app generation.
If you fail to adjust, you can be certain that as this young generation of technologically aligned and educated employees enter the workforce, resistance to technological enablement will cost you talent in the long run. These talented young people are looking for a business environment which has kept pace with developing technologies because they often better fit the way they want to work.