Does Instant Messaging “Isolate” Senior People in The Modern Workplace?

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Baby boomers and later generations of employees generally prefer different means of communication than what the millennial generation of employees use these days.

Older workers value face-to-face communication and would prefer to use email and text messaging at work, while the younger folks are much more comfortable with instant messaging apps and social media networks. This gap, according to the recent article from Wall Street Journal, is driving a shift in workplace habits in a way that older employees must “adapt or die” to the new communication platforms taking over in the modern office if they want to stay relevant.

Instant Messaging Generation Gap: Real-Life Cases

Andy Pittman, a 59-year-old CEO, told the paper his experience about the apparent “instant messaging generation gap.” According to Pittman, he resisted using instant messaging for as long as possible after becoming a senior executive of his Atlanta-based company. However, it did not take him that long to learn and use Slack – one of the most popular IM apps among younger workers – after his colleagues “pressed” him to do so.

However, he refused to ride with the trend when they insisted he create a cartoon bitmoji to represent himself on the app. Even one of his colleague offered a gift card as a prize for any employee who could design one Mr. Pittman would like, but he ended up rejecting all designs – including one that portrayed him as a Teletubby. While Mr. Pittman could have easily ordered all his employees to stop using Slack altogether, he continued to use the app and posted a photograph of himself instead.

Tim Tolan, a 59-year-old CEO from Florida, also admitted in the paper that he, too, was also pressured to ride the instant messaging trend by posting photos of his Costa Vacation with his wife. This is even after he sees all the instant messaging banter as TMI (Too Much Information).

Bridging the Communication Gap

At its very core, the article from WSJ shows that older employees are struggling to adapt to the new communication norms in the workplace. As the number of the millennial workforce who prefer newer mode of communication channels continue to increase, this communication gap will only continue to widen if not addressed immediately.

According to the report from research firm Radicati, in 2018 the number of worldwide IM accounts (not including Mobile Messaging) total over 6.4 billion. This figure is expected to grow at an average annual rate of about 8% over the next four years and reach over 8.6 billion by the end of 2022.

So how organizations can find common ground when their communication preference divides their employees? According to a 2016 study by Elza Venter, despite all the generic characteristics and differences, younger and older generations still have similarities – for instance, believing that having digital devices and means to communicate when it is convenient, regardless of time or place, is a big advantage of CMC (computer-mediated communication.)

Based on that shared belief, organizations must then leverage a communication method that embraces technological advances that younger generation seeks – such as the check mark that indicates when the recipient received the message and when it has been read – but does not completely abandon previous communication preferences that the older employees still trust.

Business Text Messaging: The Common Ground Between Baby Boomers and Millennials

Of all electronic communication platforms, there is, text messaging is the only platform that meets the preferences of both older and younger generations. In fact, a study from Nielsen reveals that people aged 45-64 are the fastest growing demographic on the mobile frontier. Separate reports also state that 64% of Baby Boomers send text messages, with 42% agreeing that it would be convenient for any company to use texting for customer service.

Clearly, younger generations – Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials – are well-adept to texting, since this channel is instant and mobile, and more importantly, much more reliable compared to online instant messaging platforms. According to statistics from Gallup, more than two-thirds of 18- to 29-year-olds say they sent and received text messages ‘a lot’ the previous day, as did nearly half of Americans between 30 and 49.

These text messaging statistics only means that there is a common ground where boomers and millennials can meet and ensure efficient and collaborative workplace communication.

Over the years, text messaging has gone through many developments, and there are now platforms that cater especially to the unique mobile communication needs of businesses. TeleMessage, a global leader in innovative SaaS messaging and mobility solutions for enterprises, offers secure text messaging that not only help companies stay on top of their employee communication, but also help them stay compliant with eDiscovery rules and various recordkeeping laws and regulations.

Contact us today to learn more how TeleMessage Enterprise Mobile Messaging solutions can help you maximize texting effectiveness in your business.

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