If there's one thing I learnt from JiveWorld 2014, it's that engaging employees in the workplace is essential, but also extremely demanding.
One of the main challenges facing modern employers is that the rise of the 'millennial' workforce (the term given to individuals born between 1980 and 1995), has created a generation gap between employees, bringing with it a definite culture shift.
Whilst at JiveWorld, we were given the opportunity to hear from two PwC partners, Sean O'Driscoll and Margaret Burke, about a recent global study that the company carried out into the attitudes and values of its employees.
O'Driscoll opened by saying, "we are not our fathers firm anymore" and this certainly appears to be the case. Two thirds of PwC's current workforce is comprised of millennials and this figure is expected to rise to nearly 80 per cent by 2016, meaning the millennial generation will play a key role in the company's future.
One of the study's main findings was that the era in which a person is born really affects their values at work. For example, those born before 1980 tend to value control over their work, pay satisfaction and having scope for personal development, whereas individuals born after 1980 place more importance on team cohesion and supervisor appreciation.
Communication is also an issue, as millennials are much more likely to communicate with colleagues through social networks (74 per cent) rather than email. Burke explained that this is because "participation really matters to the millennials" and she encouraged employees to "take the time to engage your people, whether or not it's through technology.
This was the point where the benefit of Jive Software's solutions was subtly introduced. Burke and O'Driscoll both agreed that implementing a company-wide communication and collaboration platform can be used to connect the generations and promote company values.
Then we came to the whole work/life balance dilemma, which brought up some interesting findings. 71 per cent of millennial employees believe that their work demands interfere with their personal lives and the majority are unconvinced that increased workloads are worth the sacrifice. In contrast, non-millennials are more likely to make work their priority with the promise of compensation later on in their career.
One area where the generations share similar views is work flexibility, which Burke emphasised "does not mean working less." Both millennials and non-millennials want to be able to shift hours or work from home, with 15 per cent of male employees and 21 per cent of female employees willing to give up some of their pay for greater flexibility.
Despite all the stats, Mark Bonchek, founder of social business strategy company thinkORBIT, took a slightly different view, arguing that the issue isn't quite as clear-cut by saying that "millennial is not a generation, it's a mindset."
The study, entitled PwC's NextGen: A global generational study, spanned 18 territories and involved more than 40,000 individuals at all levels of seniority across the company.