We know the trends, and we’re all familiar with the stereotypes of the mobile-centric, Millennial professional. But let’s look at some recent data that frame the reality in the workplace today:

  • Millennials will be the largest segment in the work force by 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • 90 percent of Millennials make checking their smart phones part of their morning routines; 60 percent admit to being obsessive about checking them throughout the day
  • Almost one-half (46 percent) of all audio conference calls include at least one mobile user, according to recent data from InterCall. That number has already doubled since 2012

Millennials want, and demand, flexibility and work-life balance.  But perhaps more than any other generation, they expect to attend family activities, from soccer games to parent-teacher meetings to dance recitals. They expect to have relationships with co-workers beyond the office. They expect the flexibility to move beyond the 9-to-5 paradigm.

While many employers roll their eyes at those desires/demands, the Millennial lifestyle does provide several positives for business. Along with bringing technology sophistication that can help everyone in your organization, their ubiquitous connectivity means they are never really off the clock. Millennials are not simply making demands on businesses; they are providing a give-and-take value proposition that enables business to keep churning while also building loyalty among a critical generation of employees.

My company, InterCall, works with 85 of the Fortune 100 companies. Through the knowledge gleaned from such relationships, we have sketched out a “Road Map for Millennials.”

Here’s what companies need to be doing:

•             Go Virtual – Provide a secure virtual private network (VPN) and technology that allow their smartphones to work like the phones on their desks

•             Be Collaborative – Ensure a flexible and rich online meeting application that allows full and easy-to-access participation for mobile users

•             Go Global – Empower your globally dispersed workforce with collaboration tools that work across the vagaries of laws and regulations in different countries

The ability to work virtually – be it through a flex schedule or while traveling for business — is not new. But with the rapid spike in mobility, it’s now more important than ever that employees enjoy cross-functionality. Specifically, employees must enjoy the same functionality on their desktop PCs as they do with the mobile devices in their pockets.  That’s the promise of the entire BYOD phenomenon and one that organizations must keep to attract the best talent.

In addition, the virtual work option is allowing scores of employees to “attend” conferences and trade shows without ever boarding a plane. The ability to download sessions, speeches, and other helpful content that is more conducive to the young professional’s schedule is making trade shows, on-site and online, more impactful for show organizers, and cheaper and more efficient for employers as well.

One of our customers, a software firm specializing in IT portfolio management, capitalized on this trend to launch its own virtual user conference. Due to budget and travel restrictions among its customers, the company sought an alternative to its annual on-site conference.

Impressively, the firm was able to increase attendance by 250 percent, generate nearly 3,000 content downloads, and enable more than 3,000 visits to 18 virtual booths. What’s more, it facilitated 634 one-to-one chat sessions and 250 meet-the-expert sessions. The event far exceeded projected results and demonstrated that thoughtful business communications can deliver a powerful experience that strengthens customer relationships and drives growth.  You can bet that a huge percentage of “attendees” were Millennials who deepened their product knowledge and company loyalty at the same time.

Multimedia content support is a key component in making meetings and presentations relevant and powerful for the latest generation. We must all be versed and cognizant of visual learning tools that are available online. Beyond simply showing PowerPoint slides, if your meeting tools can seamlessly host video, you will be positioning your business (and employees) to be more productive and engaged.

Beyond the business capability of communication technology, managers should consider using company tools to mesh the personal lives and careers of employees. Because we know Millennials are more interested than previous generations in forging relationships with their co-workers, companies have a golden opportunity to utilize technology to easily enable those relationships and achieve the work-life balance these employees expect.

How many of us enter casual Oscar Pools each year? Do you think you can beat the younger generation in Fantasy Football? Why not start a league and host the draft on your company’s communications technologies? How about hosting an online chat session for some of the employees’ favorite television shows, especially ones that air on Sunday night when little business is conducted and several top programs air? Technology allows those things to happen organically in the workplace, if the company goes the extra mile to provide that experience for its workers.

Enabling Millennial employees access to company platforms for business or personal reasons can help shift their thinking. Instead of viewing your unified communications platforms as commitments to doing business in an increasingly global and technological economy, a younger employee might see those tools as an investment in them. And when that shift happens, your business is actually the biggest winner.

We need to stop being as cynical about Millennial attitudes as we accuse them being about everything else.  We need to start figuring out how to utilize technology solutions that drive our businesses forward, and also meet the demands of the soon-to-be largest segment of the workforce.

Companies doing that now are already winning the race.