Millennials: now the largest cohort in America and the most-studied, most-discussed generation in our history since baby boomers. Brands want to understand them and connect with them early on to establish customers and advocates for decades to come.
Employers, too, have gotten in on that act, trying to figure out how to draw and keep millennials while at the same time grappling with an age swing of four generations and 50 years in their businesses. Creating engagement is key, and that’s difficult with a generation that has little expectation of long careers with a single employer and a greater need, at least at this point in their lives, for authenticity, flexibility and community in the workplace.
If attracting and retaining millennials is an issue for you, and you haven’t yet incorporated digital signage in your employee communications program, now is the time to consider it, if for nothing but this reason: Digital signage is a perfect fit for the way millennials communicate and consume information.
While millennials may not expect to spend their careers with one employer, engaging them while they’re in your workplace is still important. “What [millennials] want isn’t really any different than what the older generations have wanted: work satisfaction, being able to learn, having the opportunity to grow, to develop, to advance, and to do work that’s interesting and able to support whatever family you have,” says organizational behavior researcher Alec Levenson, co-author of What Millennials Want From Work. And communication of all types plays a huge role in job satisfaction and, ultimately, engagement.
In any discussion of millennials, technology is always presented as a prime differentiator. To some researchers and observers, it’s the only true differentiator among the generations. Be that as it may, the results of a recent Microsoft survey of 1,000 millennials showed that 93% cited up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of a workplace. Millennial employees will certainly be frustrated if your communication depends upon older and slower methods like printed brochures and even email.
They’ll also be frustrated if you expect them to read too much at one time. Thanks to computer screens and smartphones, copy-heavy communications are no longer the norm. Infographics replace full-text articles and emoticons substitute for words. Snapchat is a whole other animal altogether. And, frankly, finding time to absorb communications is an issue for just about everyone.
Digital signage serves up the kind of video and graphics-heavy communication, in consumable bits and bytes, that appeals to the first generation to grow up with no knowledge of a world before personal computers and widespread use of the Internet and all the related technology and applications they spawned.
Digital signage also offers other advantages that appeal to millennials. It makes for a connected workplace, encouraging people to spend time in gathering areas to view and discuss the latest news and information they’re seeing on digital displays. And it sends a message that your company is up-to-date – a message that may be particularly appealing to tech-savvy millennials, but also something many more employees are interested in.
In the end, using digital signage to communicate with and engage employees is good for all. “There is no substitute for creating an open workspace that fosters open communication among employees and is carried out without prejudice of what one’s job title is,” says Austin Marshburn, head of marketing at FirstJob, in a recent OfficeNinja post. “This creates transparency and allows everyone to feel like they have a stake in the direction of the company. Moreover, it forces both sides to see and come to grips with the other’s viewpoint.”
Feeling like they have a stake in the direction of the company are the key words. While definitions vary, generally an engaged employee is committed not just to his or her work, but to the future of a business. And “while generational characteristics may be nice to know, […] characteristics will never apply to everyone and you risk alienating good workers by making assumptions,” says OfficeNinja.
When it comes to communication in the workplace, the only safe assumption you can make is that it’s critical to an organization’s success. And a well-planned, compelling digital signage solution will attract everyone’s attention – millennials, Gen X- and Y-ers, baby boomers and traditionalists alike.
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