Generation-Y is driving social tools in the workplace

Many companies herald their workforce as their most valuable resource. Yet research found little evidence to suggest that technology and software tools are employed to commensurate with the high stated importance of workers.

Spreadsheets remain at the heart of many organisations’ work management methods. This is grossly inefficient as great portions of work is unstructured (such as chats in corridors, emails and adhoc requests from colleagues) and cannot be efficiently organised or accounted for on such a stagnate platform.

The UK is a knowledge economy, which is increasingly reliant on creativity, meaning businesses not only need employees’ diligence and intellect, but their creativity and passion as well. To remain competitive it’s vital that companies provide the right tools for the job.

As Generation-Y enters the workforce, craving collaborative work spaces and access to the latest and fastest technologies – preferring tools and environments where they can share, comment and collaborate; older generations should be willing to learn a thing or two about the benefits of their approach.

Handled in the right way, the technology they crave can deliver a 360-degree view of workplace activity, not just providing Gen-Y with the technology they want, but also providing managers with the oversight they need.

Forrester found that both knowledge workers and managers alike, recognise the potential value in adding peer-to-peer social collaboration and qualitative, information transparency. Collaborative work management tools that allow employees to work to common goals and adjust their own deadlines according to business goals are key.

This is extremely important for businesses that have little to no idea what results their workers (often their biggest investment) are returning, or how to fully exploit knowledge workers’ potential, in relation to innovation in new products, markets and business models.

Nearly one in four (37%) of the managers surveyed as part of Forrester’s research and 63 percent of knowledge workers disagreed with the statement “our organisation tracks ROI on knowledge worker investments” – this is worrying. If companies are unable to see what works well and what doesn’t, they are doomed to make the same mistakes and miss opportunities.

If employees are unable to have insight into what each member of the team is working on, they are working in a disjointed way. Individuals, regardless of seniority, who can share in the greater vision of what they’re doing and how their efforts contribute to the success of the organisation as a whole, tend to be engaged and motivated.

The purely motivational boost alone of empowering employees with the technology that suites them, should not be underestimated. From my experience, trusted workers will strive to prove that trust has been well placed by going that extra mile. Happy workers will put in far more effort and ultimately be more productive than those who are not.

Still, it’s important to have processes in place to track these contributions so that those with more experience can pass on their knowledge and make educated decisions about how to proceed.

Social work management software is out there and can provide a 360-degree view of all workplace activities, helping both team members and management alike to better understand and organise their work. It’s vital that UK businesses realise spreadsheets just simply aren’t good enough to remain competitive in today’s ever-changing workplace.

Trevor Ward, EMEA General Manager of AtTask, the project and work management specialists.