Ten Ways to Use Technology to Engage Your Multigenerational Workforce

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Which technologies did you grow up using? It’s staggering to think about how various technologies have rapidly evolved over the years. Consider the camera, for example. Boomers owned film-based cameras, Generation X saw digital cameras become mainstream, and Millennials have mobile phones that double as cameras to share photos instantly worldwide. What amazing differences these are in such a short time!

Every generation is accustomed to differing technologies. Some of us prefer phone calls over texts and some of us fancy Instagram over printed photos. This variation in technology acceptance presents a clear challenge when adopting and using technology in a multigenerational workplace.

Of course, business owners strive to invest in technologies that further the success of the business, not just throw money after the latest gadgets. Choosing the right technologies to employ may be an undertaking, but this article identifies 10 technology trends you can use in your business that will help you connect with and increase engagement of your workforce.

Some of these ideas are quick wins whereas others may require discussion with a larger team to implement well. Some are inexpensive, and others require budgetary planning and timing considerations. However, all of them should be on your radar
to investigate.

1. Use Your Smartphone…Wisely
The Nielsen Company, a consumer research firm, reports that 83 percent of Millennials sleep with their smartphones. Does that mean everyone should? No, it means we should all have one and know how to use the functions. It also means we may need to be reminded how and when not to use them. Even though we might feel we are multitasking, a meeting is never the appropriate venue for responding to nonemergency texts.

2. Embrace Instant Messaging
Fear of productivity loss is usually the reason why companies don’t employ an instant messaging system. Those same conversations are happening in the lunch room already, though. Policy setting can alleviate most concerns in this area. Instant messaging has shown to be a convenient and inexpensive way to increase communication and efficiencies within and between teams of workers. Less email, fewer interruptions, and greater collaboration ability are the wins here.

3. Use Social Media
Social media is not a fad; it is how Millennials communicate. Pew Research Center states that 90 percent of Millennials use social media compared to only 51 percent of Boomers.
I’m not referring to Facebook specifically; stay abreast of which social media channel is the most popular among your employees and marketing departments and use that with them. The best part is when your employees engage with the company; it can also boost business!

Reminder: Create a social media policy for your business to avoid conflicts.

4. Add New and Fun Tech to the Workplace
This can be as simple as adding a TV and game system to the lunchroom or as advanced as adding the latest wallpaper thickness flat-panel TV to your conference room. Your employees will see your investment in technology as an investment in them.

5. Allow Remote Working
Field employees already work remotely; how about office staff too? Remote working is not just a craze; it has come to be an expected working arrangement by the younger generations. Recruiting new and younger workers will become more challenging without this flexibility.

Keys to success: Aligning technology with the needs of remote working, setting policies, and observing personal time.

6. Employ Wearables
From Fitbit to Google Glass, wearables may be the most important emerging technology to explore. Did you know Fitbit has a division devoted to working with companies? They partner with many wellness vendors and are offering devices at reduced cost for staff, keeping them fit and engaged.

Headsets and smart glasses are improving warehousing and distribution efficiencies and accuracy. The Analyst firm Tractica forecasts that shipment of wearables to enterprise and industrial industries will grow from 2.3 million in 2015 to 66.4 million in 2021.

7. Allow Employees to Bring Their Own Mobile Devices
A new trend in business increases employee engagement by allowing employees to use their mobile device. Remember to create a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that provides accountability and security, plus reduces liability for both your business and the employee.

Providing company-owned devices is still a great option. Recommendations would be to ensure you have an acceptable use policy and investigate which business applications could integrate with these devices. From customer orders to accepting mobile payments, hours of paperwork can be saved and time to payment reduced – benefits that your employees feel directly.

8. Upgrade Systems
Plan to invest in a new technology annually such as a new phone system or upgrade in business applications such as accounting systems, office software, or cloud-based timeclocks.

Annual investments spread the technology budget across multiple years instead of for major overhauls. Employees can realize efficiencies that likely cost nearly as much as the investment and they appreciate the use of modern systems and applications, increasing engagement and retention.

9. Virtual Training
Committing to employee development has long been shown to increase engagement, and the latest trend in development is virtual/video-based training. Offering virtual training allows employees to learn where and when they want to, increasing their self-worth and their value to your business.

10. People Systems
Companies large and small are utilizing technology-based HR systems for recruitment, performance management, feedback, engagement, and culture management.

An easy way to see if these applications are right for your company is with cloud-based and inexpensive software such as awesomeboss.com, tinypulse.com, or kudosnow.com.

Final Thoughts
When planning for new technologies, be sure to include employees from all generations in decisions to ensure all technology abilities are evaluated and instantly increase engagement – simply because you asked their opinion.

Remember that technology only aids in increasing engagement. A focus on developing the workforce into a flexible and adaptive culture open to new ideas, new working conditions, and new technologies is essential for success. True engagement can’t be purchased, but it can be fostered and even encouraged through these technologies.

Jodi O’Toole is Director of IT and Web Development at the National Wood Flooring Association in St. Louis. She can be reached at jodi.otoole@nwfa.org.

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