At universities around the globe, May marks the beginning of a celebrated annual rite — graduation. In the coming weeks, as they dutifully shift their mortarboard tassels from right to left, an eager new crop of minds will step away from academia and, after some 20 or more years of learning, at last set foot into the workplace.
It’s a rite of passage repeated annually. This year’s procession, however, will mark a rather noteworthy shift — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as this month’s graduates enter the workforce, the Millennial generation (which passed the Baby Boomer generation to become the largest generational group in the workplace a few years ago) will now count itself the majority of all employees in the workplace.
Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) represent the single largest generation group in the history of the world, outsizing even the Baby Boom from 1945 to 1965. And today the sheer scale of these two groups — and the timing between them — is leading a massive overhaul in the workforce.
While the much smaller Generation X has entered its prime working years, its membership only accounts for only a bit more than 20% of the workforce. Boomers, by contrast, accounted for 45% of the workforce just 10 years ago, and even five years ago outnumbered Gen X 2 to 1 as many Boomers held on to jobs rather than retire in midst of the Great Recession. And now as the global economy stabilizes and Boomers begin to see retirement rates increase, those workforce numbers are quickly being filled by the newest age group to make its way into the office — Millennials. Worldwide, by 2025 Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce.
Yet as many workplaces have already discovered, the characteristics that made a welcome office for the Boomer generation haven’t been so readily adopted by Generation Y. Now ten years on in their matriculation into the workplace, there’s scarcely a pundit left that hasn’t editorialized about the unique species that is the Millennial — that unapologetically ambitious persona, never out of arm’s reach of their iPhone, never embarrassed to share the full details of their lives via Facebook (or Instagram, or Snapchat…), and never quite willing to “wait their turn” in the search for significant, meaningful work.
Putting intergenerational snark and pop-anthropology aside, however, the fact remains that every organization around the globe has this question to answer:
How are you going to adapt to support the generation soon to make up 75% of your staff?
While the internet, cable television, and the mobile phone have all been credited with shaping the members of Generation Y, perhaps one of the most transformative technologies of the era often goes unmentioned — the rise of the home camcorder.
With the release of the first truly personal camcorders by Sony and JVC in 1982, the introduction of digital video recorders in 1995, and consumer-ready HD camcorders in 2000, Millennials grew up in an age when video moved out of the realm of professional specialists and into a world where anyone could record and share anything.
And that march of progress continues — today video technology is pervasive, a standard feature of every smartphone, tablet, laptop, and digital camera available.
And the trend doesn’t stop at recording. A host of new websites, social networks, and mobile apps have emerged to support video as a communication device for sharing moments and expressing ideas. As of this writing, Facebook’s Instagram platform for video has 150 million users. Twitter’s Vine has 40 million. And let’s not forget the biggest player of them all in consumer video — Google’s YouTube and it’s 1 billion monthly unique visitors.
While these video services are used by everyone, their demographics skew young. Forrester Research reports 70% of Millennials visit YouTube at least monthly, compared to 58% of Generation X and 49% of Baby Boomers. If anything, that shift is only widening — 83% of the burgeoning Generation Z now likewise visit YouTube monthly.
They aren’t just there to watch, either. Every minute of every day more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. Every minute of every day, more than 8,000 videos are created and shared on Twitter’s Vine.
And before you dismiss all that video recording, production, and sharing as trivial, you should know there’s one other place where video use among Millennials is soaring: In school.
In the past decade, video has transformed the way college students learn new material, interact with faculty, and demonstrate proficiency.
On campuses around the world, lectures are recorded for students to use as an on-demand study resource. Outside the classroom, professors record instructional “flipped classroom” videos to help students prepare for in-class activities. And video assignments are an increasingly common medium for students in graduate and professional programs.
That all adds up to a lot of video — the University of Essex in the UK, for example, now captures more than 80,000 hours (more than 9 years’ worth) of video annually.
The benefits of video in the classroom have proven many. Among the almost innumerable positive outcomes, students themselves report using video to:
And while students make use of video throughout the semester, they really rely on it when it comes time to show what they know. Video viewership spikes in the weeks leading up to exams — at Creighton University, for example, students reviewed nearly 5,000 hours of video (200 days’ worth) in just the one week leading up to Spring finals in 2014.
Now 10 years on in the integration of video into the classroom, students are thriving in this more flexible and interactive learning environment. Studies have shown “blended learning” reduces failure rates, improves exam grades, and can even boost attendance.
By the time they graduate, the average Millennial will have spent more than 20 years using video is a tool both for learning and for communications. As they prepare to enter the workforce, for many of today’s students, video has become just as integral to getting work done as email is for those of us in the corporate environment.
That means for many new college grads, however, entering the workforce today requires a demanding adjustment — right down to very tools they’ve been taught to rely on for learning, sharing, and communicating.
But won’t new grads just get used to the corporate way of doing things like they have in the past?
For the best and brightest — not quite.
A new study by Cisco looks into how the first wave of Millennials are adapting to the workplace, and the trend is clear — video will continue to play a prominent role in how this generation works. Just look at the data:
What’s driving this preference for video as a business tool? Well, along with Generation Y’s familiarity with the technology, it’s that video is uniquely suited to creating or supporting four important characteristics Millennials often seek in their working environments.
#1. Technology-Enabled Productivity
Phonebook-sized handbooks, day-long in-person training sessions, four-page instructional emails, and hour-long meetings presented with no prior information… finding information in many modern organizations is the modern equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack — a haystack that’s only open from 9-5.
Millennials are used to the world of academia, where it’s a safe bet nearly all those information sources would be shared by video and available on-demand. A modern video platform can make any of these types of videos available and searchable, anytime, anywhere, and ready to play on any device. In a world where knowledge workers spend 8 hours a week just searching for the information they need to do their jobs, on-demand information is critical for working productively.
#2. Continuous Learning
Today’s college grads grew up online, with all the knowledge of the world readily available at their next search query. As they step out of the world of carefully sequenced curriculum, they’ve come to expect information right when it’s valuable, structured in simple, digestible chunks to ensure the message can be understood.
A single, massive product guide or intensive weeklong training session are an anathema to this group — they don’t want everything all at once, just the specifics they need at exactly the moment they need them.
That might be why “the face-to-face classroom is no longer the norm,” as writes Forrester Research. To better support today’s learners as Millennials enter the workforce, the firm recommends organizations instead adopt self-paced learning material accessed online, including discussion groups, wikis and resource centers, and of course, video from both the training team and internal subject matter experts. These kinds of resources let Millennials (and all your other employees, too) learn what they need, when they need it, while offering the opportunity to learn more on-demand.
#3. Silo-Free Collaboration
Malcolm Gladwell has famously stated that millennials are more about ‘the network’ than ‘the hierarchy’. Forrester Research agrees, finding that Millennials prefer to learn from peers, contribute to employee networks, and find answers to their questions with a quick instant message to an expert colleague.
hat’s good news for businesses, because collaboration isn’t just a more enjoyable way to get more done — it actually works better, too. Studies show that 70% to 80% of on-the-job learning comes from informal knowledge sharing rather than formal training, and that employee productivity and problem solving capabilities are improved more by social learning than by innovation.
Video is already becoming an essential collaboration tool in most organizations, as video conferencing and web conferencing technologies enhance our ability to trade ideas by allowing users to share screens and attend live events online. And more and more organizations are finding that internal video libraries can quickly become “corporate YouTubes,” filled with answers to questions from subject matter experts, advice from veteran employees, and other valuable institutional knowledge that would previously have gone unrecorded.
#4. Fulfillment and Meaning
There may be no trait more quintessential of the members of Generation Y than their quest for fulfillment at work, right from day one at their very first job. Studies indicate Millennials will choose corporate culture and meaningful work above everything else, even a bigger paycheck. “They want to know that the work they are doing is having an impact on their co-workers, on their manager and on the company at large,” Forbes Magazine concludes. “They won’t stay at a company long if they are doing busy work the whole time.”
This quest for meaning is shared by many non-millennials, of course. High-level managers and leaders also desire greater fulfillment at work—for themselves, and for their employees. They want their voices to be heard on a regular basis and to contribute to the company in a meaningful way. The difference between the older and younger generations is that the younger generation doesn’t just desire this—they expect it. At home, social networks and other new communication technologies enable them to contribute ideas and seek out new information at any time. It should come as no surprise, then, that giving them the tools to accomplish the same at work increases their job satisfaction to a significant degree.
Video, of course, is one of these tools. As both an active medium, giving workers the ability to share knowledge and ideas, and an interactive medium, allowing for collaborative learning, video enables more meaningful workplace participation. Employees can use video to meet remotely, create their own best practice and FAQ videos and more. Best of all, the content they create can be placed in a secure, searchable video library or VCMS (video content management system), so that it is never lost or forgotten. This means that the videos employees create — no matter who they are on the corporate hierarchy — will be truly valuable contributions, ones that last for years to come.
Learn more in our free white paper, Motivating Millennials: How to Use Video to Help the Next Generation of Employees Succeed.
In this paper, you’ll learn how your organization can support video to help your next generation of employees succeed, including: