Recently, I decided to open a new account at my current bank. I love the mobile options with this bank and am easily able to move money between accounts, deposit checks by photo, and a host of other functions.
After sitting for 30 minutes watching the account manager struggle, tap, and mumble at his desktop computer, I asked if there was a problem. He assured me that the issue had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the system—one he was forced to use every day. I see this problem often with clients—they put most of their computer software dollars toward customer-facing applications leaving employee-use applications for “someday” thinking they do not affect customers. The bank manager provided the nicest customer service he could, but after a full hour, I left frustrated, loving my bank less, but with a new account.
This experience will be even more annoying to millennials hired into new jobs with old technology. Where members of my generation might remember struggling to change the roll on the fax machine or the high pitched sound of connecting to the internet by modem (relive it here), millennials grew up as consumers of technology focused on strong user experience. As a result, they are more frustrated by the inefficient technologies still too common in workplaces today.
The best solution is for companies to invest in strong employee-use technologies. This will give millennial workers the technology they need to flourish in the workplace. Ultimately, it saves money through increased productivity, engagement, and retention of employees. Until companies are up-to-date with technology, what should a millennial do when faced with old tech? Here are three tips to help:
1. Conquer Current Tech.
Your company will have a handful of tools that are common use. Chances are they will not be the latest and greatest and will not satisfy you. Many companies employ business applications that are out-dated or were created with little focus on user experience. You might even be handed a paper training manual to help you learn to use the systems. Although it might be painful, dig in and learn the existing systems. Look for capabilities built into the software not currently being utilized and use them. Create the best version of the system while keeping a documented wishlist of features that would improve the application. You want to be ready to contribute meaningfully if an update or overhaul is announced.
2. “Hire” your Tech Team.
As you begin to understand the tasks for your job, begin interviewing new apps to work as your team members. Sure, you can pick up an Alexa to assist you, but what else can you find to automate your workflow? Should you Slack, Doodle, or Pocket? Select tools that will help you be organized, exceed deadlines, and optimize your time and those around you. Test drive a variety for test drives paying close attention to both mobile and desktop options. Be certain to keep company security in mind as you experiment. As your tech team develops, use the time you have freed up wisely. Look for places where you can learn new skills increasing your value to the company and your own feeling of work worth.
3. Become a Tech Trainer.
Share, but be sensitive. As others begin to see that you master technology, some will seek you out and ask questions. Be patient and helpful, but always willing to share your successes and failures—after all, the app that did not fit you might fit someone else. Although it is easy to get super excited when we find a new app, be sensitive to others when you share. Not everyone has the same comfort with technology that you do and may need to move at a different pace. You might even need to bridge the gap with a paper manual filled with screen shots at first.
While these tips will help millennials function until updates can be made, business leaders should take a close look at their systems. One of the biggest indicators that you need an update is a “noticeable disconnect between technology practices at work and in employees’ own personal lives.” In other words, frustrated millennials creating work arounds to use the system can predict your IT operations are moving from increasingly inefficient to potentially unsafe and unstable. Technology is constantly evolving. Optimizing your tech can help you gain an edge over competitors—and keep your millennials working efficiently and happily.