Time flies and gone are they days when millennials could just “can’t even” their worries away. Even though adulting is hard and the struggle is real in the workplace, millennials are now grown ups. Mom and dad kind of expect them to get a job, buy a house, get married, and on and on, just like they did when they were in their 20s. But do these traditional practices still apply?
Let’s focus on the job part only for now. What’s special about millennials in the workplace, in the era of information spread with the speed of light? What do they do differently than their parents used to when it comes to the using and sharing knowledge? What knowledge management strategies should be implemented to optimize efficiency of their work behavior, and to encourage personal growth?
By 2030 millennials are expected to make up three quarters of the workforce, according to Wired Magazine’s Enterprise Information Landscape survey.
So we should be interested to understand the particularities of a generation that is soon to be the main representative of labor force. The above-mentioned study also raises attention to one such particularity, namely, millenials’ relationship to knowledge management.
Among the age group 18-24, 38% are thwarted by “information fishing” at work, while 1 out of 3 believe that searching for the right information source is the most burdensome activity. It follows that knowledge management is currently a highly relevant field for organizations to consider. Devising knowledge management strategies for millenials in the workplace is a “must” in the near future, for those organizations that want to keep up work efficiency achieved by means of motivated employees.
So what are the best practices for knowledge management from the perspective of millenials in the workplace?
1.Leverage technology in support of knowledge management
Millennials are the generation that has grown up with access to technology. They are also the generation that finds it hard to believe that there used to be a time when messages took much longer than a fraction of a second to reach a recipient, or that you could store only 1 Gigabyte of information on a computer’s drive. Nowadays they use drive cloud programs like DropBox or Google Drive to share information in real time in their private lives.
So if you implement a cloud storage service in your company, with well organized and thus easy to find information, you facilitate access to valuable and relevant knowledge. Moreover, because they are already proficient in using such technology, you won’t have to waste time and money for training sessions. Use of technology to put up knowledge management strategies for millennials is the most natural way to take advantage of the defining traits of this generation.
2. Foster teamwork and trans-generational collaboration
Teamwork provides fast, direct access to expert knowledge. And because millenials are knowledge avid, and expertise is typically the attribute of older and more experienced people, teamwork also contributes to bridging the generation gap. Moreover, millennials generally appreciate teamwork, so activities promoting it will be most likely welcome and enjoyed.
According to a CIRCLE survey from 2007, 92% said that people working together can make at least some difference to solving a problem, whereas 62% said it can make a lot of difference. It seems that we do indeed have the premises for promoting teamwork in the workplace.
3. Stimulate risk savvy knowledge sharing
Using technological developments for knowledge sharing is the natural resultant of the two previous recommended practices. Sharing is caring. But with the advent of cyber criminality, a critical aspect that should by no means be forgotten is the need for security savvy social file sharing tools. So perhaps we should work with a more nuanced catchphrase like Careful sharing is caring.
The specific recommendation is that organizations that employ millennials provide their employees with easy to use internal knowledge sharing facilities. Use of security protocols and content management tools to minimize security risks should be incentivized.
4. Keep information flows simple
We mentioned in the introduction survey results saying that millennials are frustrated by wasting time looking for the piece of information they need – who isn’t? Moreover, they are used to getting instant gratification from things that work fast, so they function better when data is readily available for use, without requiring serious digging. So in order to leverage the dynamic workforce of the ‘always on’ generation, organisations should facilitate the management of increasing amounts of data.
In order to raise productivity as well as job satisfaction, it is important that millennials are not let to feel overwhelmed by never-ending searches for relevance. In order for information quantity not to become rather burdensome, simplicity is a vital quality of information flows. As Ben Rossi from Information Age puts it, “now is the time to look for systems that are simple to use and have the ability to make a company more information-agile.”
5. Get millennials themselves involved in strategic design of knowledge management
They are a generation that is used to be proactively involved in everything that concerns them. They have been taught to dare to have an opinion because their opinions matter. And since access to knowledge is one the topics that millennials care a great deal about, they should be consulted for developing well-targeted knowledge management strategies. Let them write the content, and ask them for feedback. This is likely to make them more responsible about, and also more supportive of organisational policies.
Chris Hall, Vice President, Product Marketing, InQuira, Inc., labels knowledge management “the Holy Grail of today’s economy”. Taking the story one step further, millennials can then be seen as King Arthur’s knights who quest for knowledge towards self-realisation. Knowledge management strategies are aimed at ensuring access to consistent, accurate information.
Besides being an end in itself, knowledge sustains fast economic development as well as feelings of satisfaction (at both the employee and the customer ends of business processes) with minimal financial input. What has your experience been so far managing millennials in the workplace? Share your experience with us by dropping a tweet at @QuandoraQA.