Conversing in the workforce isn’t what it was in the past. In some cases, training and initial phases of on-the-job learning may be done without ever communicating with people and hearing and learning from them first hand. Though it may not seem related, the average tenure for Millennials (those born between 1980-1994) is sadly only 18-24 months, and though communication can’t be solely blamed for the poor statistics, it is certainly a contributing factor.
Often we talk about cross-generational mentorship. That is, the ability to have different generations learn from each other in the workplace. This, simplified, is just mentorship. This mentorship requires communication. It can’t be done on a computer, or over email as effectively, and there isn’t the focus that either group would have, assuming traditional conversation were to take place. In a world where we are trying to live faster and be more productive than we were in the past, it is difficult to slow down and actually learn from the people who are more senior that the juniors in the workplace.
This leads too, to giving junior people a seat at the table. Often we recommend giving the younger generation a seat at the table to be able to provide an alternate perspective, opinion, or angle to the situation at hand. This individual doesn’t necessarily have to have an equal vote, but in a company or organization that is striving toward the same goal, it would seem silly to not have a more diverse perspective at the table.
Another thing to consider when giving people a seat at the table and valuing their opinions is the consideration of engagement and involvement in the company. The juniors that have the opportunity to contribute at a larger scale to the company are sure to be more prepared to do the best work they possibly can. Research suggests too, that these individuals speak more highly of their job, peers, and senior people in the company, and inspire and motivate others around them to have a similar opportunity. Again though, the common thread here is that conversations are taking place and people are being valued in ways they aren’t if the conversation is happening over email or phone.
Too, there is a lot of talk about the value of remote work, and we are continuing to see a greater shift of people moving from the office, to the bedroom or coffee shop. Though conversation happens in these situations, it may not be with a ‘work’ focus. The communication between employees and employers, employees to each other, and employees to peers is important in every case. Ensuring there is a space and time for people to talk and interact may be part of the key to improving retention and allowing people to do better work.
Conversation isn’t dead, but it is dying slowly. We have to ensure that there is a great deal of focus and effort being put on the creation of time and space for people to communicate face-to-face, and learn from each other as much as possible.