The great online migration: how millennials can help your business
14 August 2020: The world has moved online overnight and some accountants and business owners are struggling to keep up. Author and practice owner Della Hudson outlines how millennials can help your business right now.
Born into technology
Millennials are 23-39 years old, so they probably make up the majority of your team, including managers. Even the oldest have probably been using technology in the workplace throughout their entire careers. Using such solutions is second nature in a way that it may not be for everyone.
We are looking at an age group who are in the majority digital native and well-aligned to communicating with their generation of business owners.
They are not, however, one homologous group any more than Gen Xers or Baby Boomers, and all have their own strengths and weaknesses. As always, the object is to harness the strengths of each generation and individual so that the whole business is greater than the sum of its diverse parts.
Previously criticised for being inseparable from their phones, millennials reflect the way that communication moved online during the pandemic. They have no problem using Facetime or Skype to chat with friends and Zoom or Teams for business meetings.
With years of online communication, they will know many tricks so encourage and harness their ideas.
Even such things as flattering camera angles and lighting are familiar to them, so you don’t end up looking at their ceiling or trying to distinguish their features in a darkened room. If you don’t have a corporate background, they’ll be the first to create and use one; even if it is just to hide whatever domestic mess may be behind them if they’re not in a dedicated office.
Schools have been using technology for years and, whilst education may be behind the most modern businesses, they’re still ahead of many. Millennials will have used computers throughout their school years, from the CBeebies website to Discord and Fortnite (which will probably have been superseded even before I’ve finished typing this). They will have had their homework set online and submitted work through a school portal. They will have used apps and online questionnaires for testing their knowledge.
They are used to sharing information online.
Millennials are the key to keeping your business young and fresh, partially thanks to the knowledge and skills outlined above, but also as a bridge to Gen Z who are already making their way into the workplace or founding their own businesses. They can communicate with this new generation in a way that older directors or partners may not be able to: language has evolved as well as technology.
Millennials have been on the receiving end of accountancy and other training, but they have their own knowledge that can flow the other way. Can you use millennials to train your team or your clients? Maybe.
Because they are so comfortable in the digital world, millennials often don’t understand the fear of technology and change that others may feel. Pitching their communication at a level which is comfortable for older customers, suppliers or clients but not patronising may take some work, but millennials can certainly take over a lot of the training to move your business forward.
Watch out for…
There is a difference between tech-savvy people who know how to code, and tech-comfortable people with a modern expectation of online and automated everything.
Just because we have grown up with electric lighting and know that pressing a switch will turn on the light doesn’t mean that all of us understand the wiring that makes it happen. In the same way, those who are digital native may not understand what actually happens behind the scenes of various apps.
Whatever generation we are from ourselves our businesses will be better if we utilise the strengths of all generations and individuals, irrespective of their stereotypes.