By Nick Romano
A seismic shift took place in the U.S. workforce last year—Millennials (ages 18-35) became the largest generation at work, surpassing Gen Xers and having already surpassed the now retiring Baby Boomers according to an analysis by Pew Research Center. Just look around any workplace today and you will know this analysis is correct.
It has been widely noted that Millennials are coming to work with a very different set of expectations. They want jobs where they can immediately make a difference and prefer a collaborative culture. They expect management to give them autonomy and plenty of opportunity for self-expression. They are interested in a flexible work environment and work-life balance. They are technology-savvy and accustomed to having instant access to information. They are also highly mobile and, if their expectations at work aren’t met, they will move on.
For those who have been in the workforce for a long time, the expectations of Millennials may seem somewhat unrealistic. Most seasoned employees see work as a place where they “pay their dues” so that they can advance in their career and make more money. Millennials, on the other hand, want to make an immediate impact and money is not their main driver. Meaningful work is.
In all of these ways, Millennials are bringing values to work that are very different from those of previous generations and they have high expectations concerning what they are looking for in their workplace environment. The implications for banks and bank marketers are significant. Here’s why.
Improving customer experience has been the driving force in bank marketing for a long time. However, the influx of Millennials in the workforce requires a new focus on “worker experience” as well. It is no longer enough to provide the best tools to meet or exceed a bank customer’s expectations, we need to provide the right tools for the benefit of our employees too. There is now a need for banks to transform the work experience not only to retain talented Millennial employees, but also to make their work more efficient. The good news is that all this will have a positive impact on the customer experience.
According to research by PwC, 59 percent of Millennials surveyed said that an employer’s provision of state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job and 78 percent said access to the technology they like to use makes them more effective at work.
In light of all this, it is incumbent on banking executives to look at the technologies they have in place today to evaluate whether they enable or hinder the workplace expectations of Millennials. The following are the kinds of questions that need to be asked about technologies, such as those used for customer communications:
- Do they enable a collaborative work environment?
- Do they put capabilities directly in the hands of those doing the work or do tasks need to pass through organizational gatekeepers?
- Do they meet expectations for ease of use?
- Do they support flexible work styles?
The benefits of streamlining communications workflows to improve the customer experience are clear. With the shift to a predominantly Millennial workforce, significant benefits can be obtained by improving the worker experience as well. Focus is needed on how to eliminate the frustration among marketing and business users, who complain that making even simple changes to customer communications they want to make so that they are more personal or responsive to market changes can take weeks or months. The headache of red tape and micro-management to get the job done must be eliminated.
Moreover, forcing Millennials to use antiquated applications built when their parents were their age instead of familiar and easy to use cloud-based technologies only serves to undermine the workplace environment they are seeking. Giving today’s bank employees the “hands-on” ability to create and deliver relevant communications to customers, when they want them and how they want them, puts the responsibility for all your bank’s customer communications where it belongs—with those closest to the customers’ needs.
In today’s banking world where everything is evolving to serve the customer more efficiently and in the manner they choose, it is imperative to deliver messages in the way they want them and when they want them. The Millennial workforce welcomes this evolution. They are a talented generation that comes to work equipped with technological skills not seen in any previous generation. Banks need to ensure that the tools are in place to let them get to work and produce results.