Gen Y mmowgli Task Force members,
We’re now on day 2 of our Lens Challenge! Today we’re asking you to consider the impact of technology. It’s been a big conversation piece in our mmowgli so far with differing paths forward on how to address it put forth by our participants.
Now, there are 1000 jokes to be made on technology (specifically social media) and the gap between millennials and other generations. My favorite is the esurance commercial! (Please note, this is not an endorsement of esurance…) While the commercial is humorous in nature, it points out how often we conflate social media with technology, but remember social media is only one form of technology.
Here to break this all down for us is an excellent, in depth blog post by Karthik Bharat. His post kicks off Day 2 of our Lens Challenge! Please read and then consider this post with regard to your Action Plan.
Qualitative phenomenological study on the impact of technology in attracting, engaging and retaining millennials
The Department of the Navy (DoN) is aggressively pursuing ways to attract a diverse workforce capable of addressing the needs of the 21st century. Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2000, number more than 83 million and represents more than one quarter of our nation’s population. The Secretary of the Navy has made recruiting for diversity of thought one of the key pillars of the DoN Innovation Vision. The population of millennials in the United States is far more diverse, both racially and ethnically, than previous generations with the percent of minority now exceeding 37.9 percent (Department of Commerce, 2015).
The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the impact technology has on attracting, engaging and retaining millennials within the Department of the Navy (DoN) workforce. The results of the study indicated that minimal technology is used during the recruitment process and that the millennials are aware of available existing technology that if employed can enhance work efficiency. The participants in this study did not feel that a lack technology would play a significant role in their desire to remain employed with the DoN.
Millennials are attracted to government work because they often feel like they are giving back to the community (Burger, 2014). In 2014 the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found that millennials are among the happiest government employees. Eighty-six percent claim felt their work was important, 83 % claim their bosses treated them with respect, and 66 % felt their bosses support their personal development. Despite being drawn to government work and perceived feelings of happiness, OPM found that millennials often leave their government jobs within 3.8 years, slightly over the national average of 4.6 years as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Rein, 2014).
Utilizing a phenomenological approach, researchers interviewed 40 participants. The scope of the study was limited to members of the millennial workforce within the DoN. This convenience sample represented millennials from six geographically dispersed areas. A convenience sample of millennial DoN civilian employees (n=40) were interviewed until common experiences emerged. Qualitative research literature suggests data collection concludes at the point of saturation (Butterfield & Borgen, 2005). This research was limited by sample size and available time to conduct the research project.
Some limitations may threaten internal validity. Based on interpretation, subjective bias of researchers in the methodology of interviewing can influence findings. To minimize this threat, hand written notes were taken during the interview, to reduce or eliminate any interpretive bias.
Summary of Findings
To what extent does the role of technology play in attracting, engaging and retaining millennials?
- During recruitment, email was the primary means of communication (48%) however, the process was slow, confusing, and cumbersome (20%).
- 45% of participants felt social media needs to be included in the recruitment process.
- 58% of participants perceived that DoN’s use of technology detracts from their work performance.
- A common theme among participants (83%) perceived an increased use of tablets and various apps would be beneficial.
- 90% of participants felt the use of these technologies would make them more effective.
- Participants (68%) perceived technology would not play a major role in their desire to remain employed by the Navy, however 24% felt it would have some impact.
- Primary technological limiters identified include incorporation of technology delays, connectivity speed and software (57%).
- If millennials could change one thing it would be the inefficient use of existing technology (68%).
The interviews demonstrated that millennials in this study depend on technology as a means making life and work easier. In order to accomplish this, they depend on staying well connected with via a number of means, primarily smart phones. Although the participants in this study did not feel that a lack of technological advance would impact heir decision to remain employed with the DoN, they do feel that a lack of technology can have an impact on their effectiveness and productivity.
Based on the findings, the researchers recommend forming working groups to provide further exploration in the areas of recruitment and retention.
With regards to recruitment of millennials, this research suggests that the working group investigate three primary areas:
- How the DoN can increase job advertisement to include social media.
- How the DoN can increase recruitment at job fairs and college settings.
- How the DoN can utilize text, IM to communicate with millennials during the recruitment process.
In addition to these three primary areas this research also recommends that a working group explore a means to expedite the hiring process.
With regards to work engagement of millennials, this research suggests that an additional working group be formed to further investigate:
- How the DoN can increase the use of tablets and various applications to enhance the efficiency of various work tasks.
- How the DoN can enhance the speed of available (existing) technologies.
- How the DoN can increase access to web sites currently restricted to some users and the use of CAC to provide an enhanced means to log on to web sites, reducing the reliance on user names and passwords, while maintaining existing levels of security.
Regarding the retention, this research found that technology does not have a significant impact of the millennial workforces desire to remain employed with the DoN. However, this does not suggest that the DoN not retain a focus on the retention of millennials.
author: Karthik Bharat, OPNAV N46, Installation Operations , Facility Operations Analyst