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Mobile Usage and the Generational Divide


It’s happened.

As of this year, Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. And with that comes the rise in Millennials joining the work world, leading to multi-generational workforces of employees with varying work styles, communication preferences, and tech savviness.

One of the greatest impacts of the generational shift is the average tenure of workers at each company. With a nine-to-five workday in a world of manual labor and punching time cards, the cultural need to “feel engaged” in one’s job was virtually non-existent to the Baby Boomer, making job hopping extremely rare. As a direct result, Millennials (who have seen their parents and grandparents get “burned out” at those jobs) have now come to expect flexible work hours, casual office environments, and the opportunity for job mobility—a perfect storm of requests that demand ongoing employee engagement. Thus, the average job tenure has naturally decreased from seven years for Baby Boomers to a mere two years for Millennials until they’re ready to move on to the next role.

Meanwhile, this turnover costs upwards of 150% of an employee’s salary to replace them every time they move. Conflicted and scrambling to understand, employers are now at a loss for how to engage a generation that seems to have one foot out the door.

The Rise of Mobile

Without a doubt, one of the biggest shifts in the workforce has been the introduction of new technology, primarily in the last 10 years. Yet, each generation has embraced it in an entirely different way based on their upbringing. While Millennials have never known any different than the digital world, Generation X has been asked to adapt, while Baby Boomers have had to shift their entire work styles to accommodate for modern technology—leaving employers overwhelmed and dumbfounded as to how to incorporate these new channels into their internal communications.

But during this shift, there’s one channel that has not only remained prominent in American lives, but increased in usage—mobile. In fact, mobile now represents 65% of digital time, while the desktop is becoming a “secondary touch point.” According to Pew Research, more than 85% of American adults now own cell phones (with Millennials owning the biggest share). And while older generations largely depend on them primarily for taking pictures and sending text messages, Millennials’ mobile usage only continues to increase with the rise of apps to manage every aspect of their lives. 

With a fleet of mobile-dependent workers and employees who could hop to the next job at any time, what’s an employer to do?  

Adapting, Not Distracting

The main problem is that employers don’t know the best way to integrate this technology. While some corporations have been quick to ban mobile and internet usage at work out of fear for distraction and loss of productivity, the companies who have embraced that technology have continued to thrive. In fact, 73% of companies see tech as a vital component in the future success of their organization, while 67% of employees agree their companies should invest more in tech applications and services.

With mobile usage and smartphone dependency on the rise, it seems obvious that employers should be reaching employees through their most-preferred channel. Research from Mindshare NA and Dynamic Signal shows that 53% of employees said a single platform which consolidates all company info would make it easier to receive and share content, while 55% said a mobile application would help them be more informed and engaged with their company.

Employee engagement apps are now making access to company information, peer directories, business goals, and other engaging employee content easier than ever. With a single place to house all the information (while monitoring and measuring its usage for ongoing enhancement) that’s not only convenient, but mobile for today’s on-the-go workforce, a mobile app for employees seems like a no-brainer.

The Future of the Workforce

The workplace is not what it used to be. With more communication and engagement tools than ever, employers now have the option to connect with their employees on a deeper level—leading to lower turnover and higher, more prolonged retention.

Millennials will only continue to grow in size in the workforce. Mobile-first is the future of employee engagement because it meets employees with how they prefer to communicate today.


See how multi-generational workforces are embracing technology for deeper employee engagement by downloading the free FirstPerson case study, and discover how they achieved an 86% push message open rate with their internal app.


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