As an avid LinkedIn user and follower, I always dedicate a certain amount of time each week to updating my LinkedIn profile, reviewing mutual recent connections and, most importantly, reading articles that attract my attention. It’s no coincidence that the articles that always attract my interest and resonate are those related to the ”millennial” generation. However, within each of these articles the same underlying tone exists: ”How to Manage Millennials,” ”Why Millennials will cause disruption to your organization,” or ”Your business MUST change now that Millennials are in your workforce.”
As a member of the millennial generation, it got me thinking, why ARE organizations so apparently fearful, if at all, of the latest wave of employees?
The blog post “Millennials Are Bad at Using Work Computers, Can’t Google Correctly” by Justin Fenner summarizes the situation perfect, but like so many millennial-based articles, in the end it fails to see the bigger picture.
If a new wave of employees are joining the workforce and finding it difficult to use so-called standard office applications, is not the greater problem lying inherently with the technology?
When I think of the legal industry in particular, out-dated systems are still worryingly common-place, especially in continental Europe. I personally predict that email will be redundant within the next 7-10 years. Working within the sales team at Mitratech, I very rarely send internal emails; I would much rather talk personally over the phone, communicate and collaborate via FaceTime, WebEx or Google Hangouts, to name a few. We also have the ability to collaborate, maintain and upload all of our working documents – they’re saved, protected, backed up and automatically versioned for my reference.
According to Fenner, “It would sound like a joke to suggest that millennials – you know, the ones who have never lived without the Internet and who are usually bathed in the blue light of one screen or another – would have a harder time using computers at work than their older counterparts. Unfortunately, it is a dead-serious reality.
But according to Time, young people don’t have difficulty adapting to standard office software like Outlook or Excel because it’s just too hard. It’s because the services they use in their everyday lives (Gchat instead of e-mailing, group text instead of conference calls) are just so much more advanced and user-friendly than what you find in a corporate setting.”
Legal technology solutions need to be a “jack of all trades” – they need to be intuitive and robust, reduce risk and enforce compliance regulations, and meet the needs of executives and daily users. In Mitratech’s white paper, “Transforming Legal: Utilizing Technology to Make the Legal Department the Best-Run Function in the Corporation”, Danette Gallatin, of The Williams Companies, Inc., summarized the basic need in a technology solution, “…users are comfortable with the system and feel empowered by the use of technology.” If the tools at your disposal are difficult to use, unintuitive and susceptible to slow adoption, then the real question, regardless of your generation, is: “An upgrade to the workforce is coming, can your technology systems upgrade too?”