I admit it; I’m getting old.
But I didn’t realize just how old until a recent software conference where I had a speaking session on the subject of intra-company communications. Among my topics of conversation were:
- What information needs to be communicated
- Whom it needs to be communicated to
- How it needs to be communicated
It was during my introduction – as I mentioned the third item in this list and gave the briefest of teasers – that I let following words escape:
“ …and although email is the most common corporate communications method, we’ll discuss how other methods need to be a part of your communications initiatives…”
And from the back of the room, barely discernable, came a brief snort, followed by this from a twenty-something:
“email… c’mon out of the 90’s, guy…”
And I realized he was right.
That’s not to say that email has no place in communicating with millennials today, but whereas I still think of email as my primary means of receiving corporate communications, email might rank third or even fourth on many millennials’ list of “preferred communications methods”.
And so, when it comes to delivering critical HR information to today’s employees – whether it’s about changing benefits, drug test results, expiring certifications, or renewing visas, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that text message is now how millennials typically prefer to receive this information. Email might be their second choice for delivery method – but corporate communications via social network or even via personalized webpage are both growing realities today.
But it’s more than just the devices that millennials are using. It’s also their whole approach to what information they want sent their way.
You see, older folks like me are still enamored with the reality that we can get so much information, so easily, and so quickly. Unlike us, millennials grew up with this reality; “getting everything” – such as daily absenteeism reports, training course news, or COBRA updates – is their norm. And they’re rebelling against it. “I already get way too much email” is a commonly-heard complaint and today’s HR organizations need to focus less on providing content and more on personalizing content and on exception content. “Tell me only what I need to know” is the millennials’ refrain.
Lastly, millennials are forcing HR departments to recognize a greater sense of self-empowerment among their employees. Historically, HR has focused on “top-down communications” – that is, communicating with managers so they can then communicate with their employees.
Although some HR issues have to be channeled through managers, many don’t. Communicating directly with employees shortens the process, speeds the result, and empowers staff. So take a look at your HR communications and do your organization a favor – deliver only what’s needed, send it in the form most likely to be read, and don’t interject a layer of management just because it’s always been done that way. As millennials have shown us, habits are made to be broken.
Don Farber is a guest blogger for the Employer Solutions Blog and the Vice President of Sales (and co-founder) of Vineyardsoft Corporation. Visit his website at www.alertsandworkflow.com.