What do millennials want in the workplace?

Ah, millennials… of all the social groupings in our society, it might be the one that comes in for the most criticism. And much of that is very unfair, or at least hypocritical, as this tweet points out.

At Silver Cloud, we’re very much in tune with millennials. Over 50% of us are aged under 40, including our founder and CEO Tony Quinn. This strongly influences our worldview, and indeed our whole business focus.

Obviously, when talking about large groups of people, any statement is a generalisation: everyone is different and not every member of a group fits the overall pattern. That said, there are some clear trends in millennials’ beliefs, abilities and values. These present both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity for employers, which they need to address urgently. (We’re defining millennials as people born 1981-1996, Gen X as 1965-1980, and baby boomers as 1946-1964.)


Change is coming

Baby boomers are leaving the workplace. In fact, they’re already almost entirely gone. By 2020, the global workforce will be dominated by millennials and Gen Xers (each making up about 35%), with only 6% being baby boomers. One survey calculated that by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the UK workforce.* So change is coming and – as usual – it’s coming fast.


Collaboration is key

Millennials tend to have different values and ambitions. For example, they prefer flat structures with a lot of fluid collaboration. They accept that the line between work and personal life is blurred, and therefore want to work for companies whose values clearly connect to their own. They are tech-savvy, expect high connection speeds, and are used to consuming information in a very different way from previous generations. And they overwhelmingly prefer to use mobile devices.


And don’t forget Gen Z (born 1997-2005). They are already starting their careers, and much that we can say about millennials applies even more strongly to Gen Z.


Three technologies that your millennial workforce needs:

Companies that try to maintain technologies that worked for a now absent generation of employees will find themselves left behind. There are many ways you can use collaboration technology to improve your business, however. Here are three of the most important.


  • A high-quality and reliable internet connection is now as essential as four walls and a roof. By the end of 2020, most of the UK will have 5G connectivity, which will open up many exciting opportunities. Not just increased speeds, but the ability to introduce more collaboration tools to the workplace, and to make remote working much easier.


  • Here’s another expert tip: video is here to stay. Younger workers overwhelmingly believe that video and audio conferencing are useful communication methods. Extracting their full potential requires a unified communications tool that lets you use video seamlessly throughout the workplace and with your customers. (With partners such as Gamma, Mitel and Wildix, Silver Cloud provides a wide range of such UC systems.)


  • For millennials, the mobile phone is the center of all communications, and that requires all the right business apps. These days, instant messaging and email are familiar to most people, but that barely scratches the surface of what’s possible. File sharing, presence (so you can see whether or not someone is available without contacting them), and being able to access any device (so you can make landline calls from your mobile, for example)… these are just a few of the ways that modern technologies can make collaboration easier and stronger.

A big opportunity

Millennial workers want to collaborate seamlessly – in fact, they expect to, as they already do this in their personal lives. They are comfortable with a blurred line between work and personal time, but want the flexibility to work remotely. If employers fail to provide an environment in which millennials can flourish, they won’t simply start thinking and working like baby boomers. They will find another employer that enables them to give their best.


That’s the key to understanding the opportunity for employers. Millennials are a passionate, determined, committed and connected generation of people that are looking for opportunities to develop themselves and work with people that share their values.


Clearly, that is a huge asset for those employers that are able to tap into it. Step one is to give millennials the right technology to help them reach their potential.