Millennials are not going to save your business. But here's what will

Phil Smith
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Sen. Charles Schumer Opens Google's New Offices In New York City
Millennials alone can't change things (Source: Getty)

Digital technology impacts every aspect of our lives. The way we work, live, play and learn has been transformed and the potential it holds is real, very real.

In a business context, whole sectors and industries are being disrupted by companies born with digital as part of their DNA and for those seeking to remain competitive and relevant, they need to catch up fast.

The need to digitalise has dominated the rhetoric around UK Plc for the last 12 months. But those who are hoping that the digitalisation of their organisation will happen naturally with the influx of millennials and Gen Z employees are putting their company’s future at risk.

We learned from a recent survey we conducted that almost a third of UK businesses are actually still not embracing digital technology. And despite hopes of the digitally savvy millennials storming in to save the day, we found the most important factor in determining digital roll-out success is not the age of those using the technology…its the culture.

Read more: Millennials are more outward looking than any other generation

It is not all doom and gloom though because it seems that by creating a positive digital culture and instilling confidence in workers, productivity, engagement and overall the success of an organisations drive to digitalise will increase.

With 45 percent of workers already spending at least half their working day using technology and 67 percent claiming digital technology has had a positive impact, the time is now to match the culture with the tools and create a digitally charged working environment.

Vision and leadership

This cultural transformation needs to be embraced, understood and filtered through the organisation by the leadership team. By creating a future proofed business vision and leading employees to the realms of digital success and company enlightenment, the benefits will follow. Just one quarter of those surveyed are confident in their boards current digital vision and a third believe their leadership is struggling to push through new digital ways of working. This tells us loud and clear that strong digital leadership is a priority.

Collaborate and innovate

This lack of confidence is echoed by the quarter of workers who have been ignored when suggesting a digital technology that they feel will benefit the business. An inclusive, positive and liberating conversation around digitisation needs to be had with employees to create a culture for success and to ensure the digital journey is being enjoyed and undertaken by all.

Read more: Millennials worry about being shown up by younger workers

Employees need to be involved, they need to be inspired, they need to be listened to and importantly, they need to feel empowered. And the simple answer is to work collaboratively to encourage innovation and support new ideas and concepts.

Communication is key

Now this last point may sounds obvious, but worryingly we found that communication and training around digitalisation is not up to par. This passion from employees to develop and learn is lost in translation as more than half of employees said they would like more information on how to use digital technologies at work. Crucially businesses need to invest in training sessions and explain their company vision, which will both make employees feel included and also encourage them to have a voice - bridging the gap in this current miss-communicative state.

Ultimately, if you want to put digital at the heart of your organisation, you need to align with the heartbeat of your organisation – culture. Your digital culture needs to be nourished, cherished and explored to enable total and successful business transformation. In this way organisations will ensure they are ahead of the digital curve, not chasing to catch up with it - achieving competitiveness in an ever advancing and evolving digital economy.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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