Just How Tech Savvy Are Millennial Workers?
by Stephanie Faris on Monday, January 18 6:00
As the baby boomer generation exits the workforce in large numbers, a new generation of workers moves in. Known as Millennials, this generation of workers is in their 20s, often having recently graduated from college and ready to begin the ascent up the career ladder. Unlike previous generations, Millennials were exposed to the Internet fairly early in life. Recent college graduates were able to use both smartphones and text messaging by the time they were adolescents.
The fact that they were raised during the Internet era has led many to conclude that Millennials have a level of tech savvy that far exceeds that of previous generations. Instead of learning to work with computers after they learned everything else, younger workers became comfortable with electronics at a young age, through their parents mobile devices and classroom learning. But are they as technically-savvy as they are assumed to be?
When it s assumed that a Millennial will be good with computers, that assumption may be taking their level of technology expertise a few steps too far. A person can use a smartphone for decades without even the most basic grasp of the hardware and software behind it. If something goes wrong, they may know how to conduct a web search for a solution and follow the directions, but they never take the steps necessary to learn why that advice resolved the problem.
Several studies have revealed Millennials lack of tech skill, with one of the most recent being a survey by the nonprofit Change the Equation. Approximately 58 percent of Millennials have failed to master the basic tech skills considered to increase productivity in a work environment, the study revealed. Among the tasks measured were Millennials ability to book a meeting room using a reservation system, sorting emails into folders, and locating information in a spreadsheet and emailing it.
These studies reveal that socializing online through sites like Twitter and Instagram doesn t necessarily boost a person s ability to use tech devices. Instead, these workers appear to have become more tech dependent than tech savvy. This can be a bad thing for businesses who need their workers to focus on doing their jobs instead of checking their social media accounts all day.
There are areas where businesses are benefiting from the tech dependency of younger workers. One area is social media marketing, where Millennials can indulge their love for communicating with others online. Businesses also find that Millennials do well in positions like usability testing, where they get to interact with software and describe improvements they feel can be made. While there will always be at least a small segment of any generation that enjoys high-tech jobs such as computer programming and server administration, studies show that Millennial workers are no more likely than older workers to be proficient in these fields.
As businesses adapt to the new generation of workers, they ll find that Millennials are comfortable with some areas of technology but not others. Understanding this, they can ensure they give their younger workers the training they need to excel at the tech-oriented tasks they need to do each day.