According to recent U.S. Census Bureau data, 22-year-olds are the most represented age group in America, followed by 23-year-olds and then 21-year-olds. This age group represents the heart of the millennial generation and your future workforce. They are confident, tech savvy, and always connected – so this should translate into a great workforce; open to change and ready to put their creative skills into action for you, right?

Wrong!

Millennials don’t view the internet as technology enabling them to be more productive and do more with less (unlike the way some employers do). You see, the millennial generation accepts the internet like any other utility (think: water, electricity and so on). And just as baby boomers don’t consider access and delivery of water and electricity as ‘enabling resources’, millennials don’t view the internet as technology – it’s just another utility that’s always there and, like water and electricity, the modern world can’t live without. So this begs the question, “what are the expectations of this fast-growing work force?”

‘Mobile App Mindset’ – There’s an App for That

Whether it’s taking notes, tracking expenses, reviewing documents, or checking in on kids at home, millennials are conditioned to find an app that will solve the problem. Of course, whatever the app, it must act and respond the same way across a multitude of devices, including the latest category of ’wearable tech’, along with an interface that is easy to use and requires little to no instruction. If you want this group to learn how to use your customized sales tracking application, you’d better design and deploy it with a ‘mobile app’ mindset. Otherwise, your ‘always connected’ workforce will find a way to work around your systems rather than attempt to learn them.

Millennials' Priorities

Working to Live, not Living to Work

According to a Pew Center Social Trends study, millennials value parenthood and relationships over careers and financial success. Translated into work place values, millennials are looking for the ever-elusive ’work-life balance’ that companies promote heavily in their HR presentations and recruiting material. If work-life balance can’t be achieved, many millennials will move onto the next step in their career. Remember, this is the generation that started graduating from college in the middle of the recession – they have a different expectation of long term employment and it is not include staying with the same company until retirement. Companies will have to go beyond talking about work-life balance and become active promoters of it by including elements such as onsite pet care, flexible schedules, job-sharing, telecommuting, access to exercise facilities, and so on.

More Skype, Facetime, and Hangouts – Less Conference Rooms and Airplanes

Millennials are a visual group where the word ’selfie’ is less about ego and more about social sharing. In the U.S., smartphone video calling has tripled since 2011 (Pew Center “Cell Phone Activities 2013” – September 2013) and since Skype is now offering free group video chatting, you can expect an increased demand for more video call meetings and less in-person sessions. Millennials place more importance on getting the job done than on how the job gets done. Two to three hour commutes to the office, searching for open conference rooms, and traveling for two days for a one hour meeting are not viewed as effective or efficient. If technology can be used to simplify their work, millennials are ready to embrace it.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2015, millennials will overtake the majority representation of the workforce and by 2030 this hyper-connected, tech savvy generation will make up 75% of the workforce.

These statistics are clear indicators of the upcoming change – now is the time to understand and prepare for millennials so that you are ready to embrace them as part of your most valuable resource – your workforce.

Published in collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services

Author: PJ Walker is the Director Digital Experience for TCS Digital Enterprise Services and Solutions (DESS) Practice

Image: Students listens to a junior high science teacher at Grant-Deuel School in South Dakota. REUTERS/Jim Young