HR & Management

Millennials prefer the shortcuts of automation: What does this mean for your business?

4 min read

20 September 2018

Features Editor, Real Business

Jokes are often made about millennials lacking communications skills, but if research proves it's true, what does this mean for the future of office-based businesses?

We often hear remarks made about ‘younger people’ in the office. A variety of disparaging comments are thrown about, including that they hate speaking to ‘people’. 

Whilst we can all engage in some friendly workplace banter about millennials and their lack of personable skills, are any of these jokes enshrined in fact? And if they are – what does this mean for the future of business communications?

Research released today by software firm ABBYY has revealed a generational divide when it comes to human versus automated communication preferences in offices. One in ten millennial workers would rather delegate verbal communication responsibilities, such as speaking to customers, over to automation services.

Only 4% of employees over the age of 55 would do the same if they had the chance. Here are some more important pull-outs:

  • 17% of 18-34-year-olds dislike speaking to customers;
  • Less than half would prioritise communicating with colleagues;
  • 10% would completely delegate verbal responsibilities to customers – to robots.

Younger workers like the shortcuts of automation

“What’s important to understand is which tasks require human-to-human interaction and which don’t – and educating staff on how best to make the most of their time alongside automation.”
– Neil Murphy, global business development, ABBYY

The research also supports, what some may call, ageist stereotypes about older workers, such as their suspicion of those darned job-stealing robots. For example, the findings show that 60% of employees over 55 would tackle tasks that electronic services could deal with right away.

On the other hand, some 21% of millennials would allow automation to take care of these more perfunctory job tasks.

There is a risk, however, that a refusal to engage with automation could lead to poor time management and lack of productivity among older workers.

But, on the other side of the coin, only 1/3 of millennials believe they can do a better job at a task than a robot, whereas over 50% of over 55s remain confident in their working abilities, and believe they are better at their jobs than a robot can ever be.

Both facts should be equally un-nerving for managers, as it means that younger workers may eschew creativity in favour of an ‘easy life’ when it comes to workplaces tasks and objectives. Whilst out of pride, older workers may try and disprove the utility of robotic services by tackling too many administrative jobs themselves, leaving little time for other tasks.

“Once staff understand how to work in partnership with robots, they will be able to spend more time adding value to the business where it matters most.” – Neil Murphy, global business development, ABBYY

Human communications and automation: A balancing act

If used correctly, automation services can increase the human output of workplace productivity. If they are used as short-cuts when it comes to time-consuming, yet essential, administrative tasks, employees will have more time to focus on the organic aspects of workplace tasks.

Whatever industry you’re in, workplace objectives are only getting more demanding, so it’s important that employees make use of AI to deal with mundane tasks and free up their energy for client and customer based work.

When it comes to customer service, people continue to prefer human connections. A balance must be reached between making the most of automation, but not letting it do all the work for you, or else – the robots will have won.