Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey found that 95% of teens own or have access to a smartphone, and 45% claim to be online almost constantly. According to the data, these Gen Z teens use smartphones the same near-regardless of income level. To create a better picture, let’s compare these numbers to a survey from 2015. Four years ago, less than 75% of teens accessed smartphones and only 24% claimed to be online constantly.
Eight years ago, many students shared desktops at school. Now, most of them carry small computers in their pockets. They’re used to the internet being within reaching distance every moment of the day. And those expectations don’t stop when they join the workforce. In fact, those expectation for great tech and fast internet may even increase.
Teens and young adults carry subconscious tech expectations
Meet Kieran. She’s in ninth grade and a freshman in high school. For French class, she read the classic children’s book Le Petit Prince. When she first got stuck, rather than take out a vocabulary list or a French-English dictionary, she took out her iPhone and looked up the difficult words in the translation app her teacher recommended.
Although Kieran’s in high school, most college students have the same experience – they use smartphones regularly to support their learning. In fact, some schools and universities have stopped prohibiting smartphones and began encouraging their controlled use as study aids.
The effect of tech expectation on job satisfaction
Just like Kieran, the teens from Pew Research Center’s 2015 survey are entering the workplace as young adults, bringing along high expectations of accessible, up-to-date technology on demand. Rather than using smartphones as study aids, young employees use them as knowledge management and performance support tools.
If your business uses slightly dated technology or strict internet usage rules, it can be tempting to just tell younger employees to adapt — after all, technology isn’t everything. But if we violate the tech expectations of younger employees, we can do more damage than causing mild frustration and dissatisfaction. In fact, we might be lowering productivity, decreasing motivation, and increasing turnover rate.
After all, if a business can’t meet expectations, these young, tech-savvy employees will find another business who can.
A global workforce
In the past, businesses depended on local employees simply because of traveling for work was simply not possible or practical. Today, however, businesses aren’t simply competing for great employees with the next town over — they’re competing on a global scale against global companies.
Times are changing, employee expectations are changing, and unlike the old days, disgruntled employees can work from home or relocate to Europe to find a job that meets their standards. This means that creating an environment that fosters employee satisfaction is more critical than ever before.
How to meet (and exceed) tech expectations
Competing with a global market for great employees can feel slightly overwhelming. But even if you don’t have the budget for a complete tech overhaul, there are still a few simple ways you can let your younger employees know that you’re listening.
Understand the tech needs of younger employees
Show your employees that what they think matters. Do a survey, take a walk around the office, schedule one-on-ones, or delegate those actions to direct management. Depending on the size of your organization, you’ll tackle this differently. What matters is asking questions that reveal employee satisfaction. Encourage openness and honesty — your employees won’t be honest if they’re afraid of a negative response.
Younger employees often have a new perspective on issues surrounding technology. After a meeting, you might even find yourself looking up ways to use VR in sales.
Look for small ways to incorporate employee feedback
Once you hear from your younger employees about technology concerns, take advantage of the fresh viewpoint. Be careful not to shelve the feedback, and try not to feel offended if your employees find a lot to improve. Every company goes through technology overhauls — you’re not alone. Change perspective and think of the feedback not as criticism but as ways to make your business even stronger. Even if the feedback isn’t possible to implement immediately, look for small ways you can get started.
- Do your employees want updated learning? Start redoing courses one at a time, rather than all at once.
- Do your employees want mobile support? Start incorporating mobile support into new content, and update the older content later.
- Do your employees want an LMS that actually makes sense? Start looking for small ways to improve the user experience.
- Do your employees want new tech? Be open and honest about budget difficulties and give them a timetable about when the new tech will arrive. If there’s tension between departments about who gets the new tech first, do a raffle. Turn it into an event. Create camaraderie.
So the big question is this: are you listening to your younger employees about tech concerns and looking for ways to implement their feedback? Those employees are accustomed to using technology (especially smartphones) to get the support they need – and they expect you to be using it, too. The use of technology in schools and workplaces is changing fast, and our newest employees expect their employers to be relevant and up to date.
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