By the year 2020, Millennials (those born between approximately the years 1979 and 2000) will make up 46% of the labor force in the US. If your organization doesn’t already have an influx of Millennials, it soon will. This demographic has very different work styles and philosophies than other generations – especially Baby Boomers, who are starting to retire in greater numbers (though increasing numbers of them are remaining in the workforce, through choice or necessity).
As the workforce changes, IT service management will change too, and as your IT service desk includes greater numbers of young adults, IT managers will have to make changes if they want to continue to deliver the best IT services.
Getting young workers up to speed quickly is essential for your hiring investment to pay off.
Some factors to consider:
Capture Institutional Knowledge Before Baby Boomers Retire
When a longtime worker leaves, he or she could be walking out the door with an incredibly valuable store of internalized company knowledge. While some of this valuable knowledge will become less relevant over time, much of it will remain valuable, so it’s essential that you make an attempt to capture some of this institutional knowledge before it goes away.
If your IT service desk has been using software that allows creation of a knowledge base, you may have a head start on this process. Otherwise, you should make a concerted effort to document some of the more important knowledge your longtime workers have. This can save massive amounts of time when training new people and prevent duplication of old efforts.
Job Hopping Means Training Must Be Efficient
Today’s average worker stays at a job for an average of 4.4 years. The youngest workers, however, only stay about half that long. Job hopping is the norm for Millennials. Many of them saw their parents’ loyalty to employers rewarded with layoffs and downsizing, and they’re willing to give up some degree of security for the freedom to go elsewhere if they are unsatisfied.
Most companies simply cannot risk spending a year getting a new hire up to speed only to watch her take a job elsewhere after another year. Not only must onboarding and other HR procedures be streamlined, training has to be incredibly efficient. Ideally, a Millennial working on the IT service desk should be able to hit the ground running, or at least have the tools necessary to get up to speed as quickly as possible.
Look for Millennials Who Speak the IT Service Management Language
When you hire Millennials for IT service management positions, look for the ones who already speak the language. While they won’t necessarily know your company lingo, they should understand the terminology that surrounds IT service delivery. While your organization may or may not be fully committed to ITIL principles, the more closely aligned your processes are with ITIL, the easier time you’ll have finding Millennials who speak your language and are quick to train from their first day on the job.
The IT Service Desk Culture Is Critical
Work culture is extremely important to younger workers. If they don’t like the work culture, they’ll be gone as soon as they get the opportunity. That’s why it’s important up front to attempt to hire Millennials who you believe will be a good fit with your corporate culture. The culture of the IT service desk is important too. Young workers are incredibly tech savvy, and if the IT service desk is mired in outdated practices and immovable cultural mindsets, Millennials may not stick around long enough for your investment in hiring and training to pay off. “Because that’s how we’ve always done it” is increasingly harder to sell as an explanation to young employees.
Collaboration and Sharing Are Expected
One great thing about younger workers is that they don’t expect to have their own little fiefdom at work. Sharing and collaborating are expected, as are the tools necessary to do this efficiently. For the IT service desk, this may mean use of help desk software features like knowledge bases, social media integration, and easy use of mobile devices. IT service management can greatly benefit from collaboration and sharing, and when your IT service desk software enables this, it benefits not only Millennials, but the organization at large.
Millennials are changing the workforce, and the workplace must adapt if it is to attract and retain talented young workers. When your IT service desk is driven by great software you have the tools necessary to get new hires up to speed quickly, share solutions, and build better relationships with the organization as a whole. Adapting IT service management to the Millennial workforce may require some fundamental changes, but if done well, you can hire better IT team members, keep them longer, and deliver IT services more efficiently.