It may come as a surprise to many, but there’s a growing problem in today’s workplaces.
Rather than something obvious, there’s an unexpected issue amongst the increasingly younger workplace. The headline fact? The latest generation of the workforce is reluctant to pick up a phone in the workplace. We live in an increasingly connected world, but ironically it can definitely drive us apart. Many millennials say simply that it is inconvenient to speak to someone when a message might have just the same effect.
Using messaging services, communicating via text and social media can have a strange effect on communication. More time spent in isolation and staring at a screen may sound like a frustrated parent explaining their teenager’s typical behaviour, but it is having a profound effect on the workplace.
Back in 2015, the share of device owners saying they make at least one voice call a week had dropped down from 96% to 75% over the past three years, according to research carried out by Ipsos Mori for Deloitte. These days, it’s likely that this number stands at much more.
Having millennials in the workforce is becoming the new norm, by 2020, it’s estimated that 75% of those in full-time work will be those born between 1981 and 1996. To not have them answer the phone or be reluctant to make calls could be a real snag for productivity.
This communication problem also exists with face to face conversations, Cancer Research did research recently stating that 44% of millennials prefer to engage via social media.
Effective communication can be carried out through instant messages and emails, sure, but nothing beats reading body language and tone of voice. You can often pick up much more from a simple conversation than reading text can ever achieve.
There’s also the issue that more and more consumers want to be able to talk directly to a brand or company on the phone to get an effective answer. This means the issue that is presenting itself needs to be addressed if companies are to maintain an excellent customer service record.
One way of combatting this is to ensure offices or workplaces don’t turn into completely silent locations. This can be done with regular, timetabled meetings where face to face interaction is required. Planning meetings, conference calls and meetings in a different location can all help to break employees away from the screen and to remember that they can relay ideas a different way.
The best way to utilise instant messaging is for quick clarification points and for convenience. Anything that requires more discussion should always be carried out face to face. The challenge that presents itself here, is how this is slot into a workforce.
Our platform encourages a call time that’s convenient for those who need it, but there is a real need for the phone call within a business. The days of the cold call may well be over for a majority of businesses, but a vast majority of closing sales is still done via the phone.
To lose these skills seems a real shame if it means people are missing out on opportunities to further new business or build working relationships with those who you may not see face to face very often in the real world.
By Jamie Brown