Millennials and the Work Ethic

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Millennials were born between 1976 and 2001. They are very different from their doting baby boomer parents. Millennials are tech savvy, skilled at multitasking, great at working in teams, and eager to please. They are also accustomed to being pampered both at home and at school. Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0 and founder of the research and consulting firm, Millennial Branding, describes them this way, ”self-centered, needy, and entitled with unrealistic work expectations.” Given Mr. Schawbel’s comments and an extensive body of research, it is fair to assume that Millennials won’t exactly be nose-to-the-grindstone at work. Work ethic notwithstanding, there are about 80 million of them today. They are the workforce, and contact centers may be an excellent fit for their skills and aspirations.

For example, work life balance is number one on their list of priorities. Millennials may have second jobs or are involved in social causes. Contact center work provides some flexibility and a good blend of structure and variety in a collaborative work environment. Millennials love technology. They were the first generation to grow up with iPhones and social media. Ninety percent of them sleep with their smart phones. If you like technology, contact centers are where the action is.

Here are some tips on how contact centers can deploy today’s technology to achieve performance goals while at the same time attracting and retaining millennial workers;

  1. Modern well-designed user interfaces – Millennials spend hours on computers and smart phones. They know what a user interface is supposed to look like and how navigation should work. Aspect Software, for example, has designed its contact center software user interfaces based on the best UI practices of Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
  2. Leverage smart phones – Any Millennial without a smart phone risks getting tossed out of the generation. They live on these devices, and leading software vendors have developed applications that use smart phones to simplify schedule management and communications.
  3. Omni-channel communications– Millennials are the consummate multitaskers. They are masters at texting, chatting, emailing, facetiming, and navigating social media. Though rare, they have been known to communicate by voice. Contact centers need people that are equally skilled in all forms of communication.
  4. Frequent and fair evaluations– Accustomed to report cards and kind words from teachers and parents, Millennials have come to expect feedback (preferably favorable.) An advantage of contact center work is frequent quality monitoring evaluations. Even better are software solutions that automate much of the QM process and provide feedback more quickly and sometimes more objectively than supervisor reviews.
  5. Workforce scheduling and forecasting – Modern workforce management systems take employee preferences and skill sets into account when building schedules. Aspect Workforce Management empowers agents with a wealth of self-service options including web-based, smart phone, IVR or even using an intelligent personal assistant chatbot.
  6. Remote agents – With their love of work/life balance, Millennials have been quick to embrace the so-called “gig economy” that permits very flexible work schedules. Aspect WFM is unique in the marketplace with its ability to allow short contact center work gigs integrated with traditional work schedules.

Given that by the year 2020 Millennials are expected to comprise 46% of the labor force, employers must adapt to their preferences rather than the other way around. Contact center work offers many of the qualities that Millennials seek and could provide a welcome solution to a looming labor shortage.

Dick Bucci

Dick Bucci

Founder and Chief Analyst at Pelorus Associates
Dick Bucci