What every employer should know about Generation Y

What every employer should know about Generation Y 



Some might characterize this group as being demanding, ungrateful and entitled. Others might argue that this group is rather innovative, creative and driven.

Whichever stance you take, the reality is that Millennials (roughly aged 20 to early 30’s) now make up the largest part of the world’s work force. And as an employer, there is a clear winner and loser in approaching this reality;  the losers are those who try to enforce their workplace norms on this generation without adapting to their unique qualities, and the winners are those who see the extraordinary benefits of their qualities and rather adapt to their characteristics. To put it bluntly, those who try to avoid this reality are simply ignorant to the inevitable process of natural generational change.   Either way, there’s no running from reality. Baby boomers are quickly retiring, and Generation Yers are coming in for the long haul.

In an article written by Gordon Tredgold, he revealed 29 surprising facts about Millennials in the workforce. While some are indeed shocking, most reveal the ambitious, creative and loyal nature of these individuals:

  • 64 percent of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.
  • 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one.
  • Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen-X workers did at the same ages; in fact, more Gen-Xers spent less than one year at any one job.
  • 84 percent say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.
  • They’re more loyal to employers than previous generations.
  • Millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work.
  • Millennials are considered multitaskers extraordinaire, though brain science tells us that multitasking is a myth. More likely, they are apt at switching tasks quickly enough to appear to be doing them simultaneously.

Ken Rabow from Huffington Post suggests 3 simple tips on how you can embrace, empower and mentor millennials:

1) Open, honest and direct communication: Millennials in the workforce want to know how the tasks they are undertaking will make a difference in the overall goals of the place they emotionally invest in. The more clarity they have on an ongoing basis, the easier it will be for them to embrace the reason your company is/will be great.

2) Lead by inspiration: A key incentive for Millennials is happiness; down the list is financial gain. Help them be in an inspiring and enthusiastic work environment and make sure that the work is based on tasks and goals not a time-clock.

3) Opportunities for growth: Millennials want to grow as professionals and as people. Creating opportunities to learn and evolve are vital to attracting, retaining and engaging Millennials. Mentoring programs can help the entire culture grow your business and industry by letting the unconventional meet a new business landscape.”
Suffice it to say, this group has been largely underestimated. It takes an employer who is adaptable and sees the bigger picture to really understand the benefits of embracing this Generation. Any company that can adapt and accommodate these needs is going to have access to a very talented pool of resources, who will be dedicated, creative and driven.


What every employer should know about Generation Y

Social Capital – What is your value?

Social Capital – You are currently in the process of accumulating it, but you may not even know it.

It’s a form of capital, one which many of us are in the process of building without even realizing it. Without noticing its increasing importance in our world today, social capital is slowly becoming a legitimate form of assessment.

What does this mean?

Social capital refers to economic and cultural capital in which social networks are central. This capital is measured through transactions that obtain value on a basis of trust, reciprocity and cooperation. Essentially, it is the value you obtain through networking.  Take a look at Airbnb or Uber for instance, two platforms that present a basic overview of an individual’s value or trust through an online forum. Generated from previous interactions, people are attributed worth. Furthermore, as seen through LinkedIn, people share their experiences and positive thoughts about others through “connections”.  Though these are minor examples of the process of assessment through feedback, these pieces add to the list whereby the aggregate forms a whole repertoire of social capital.

How do we foresee social capital playing major roles in our day-to-day lives?

Through online interactions, it would become the norm to refer to a feature where people provide their personal insight on others which is then added to a database that would generate a person’s value.  Profiles will have components such as average response times (emails and other forms of private messages could be taken into account), levels of trust, work habits and so on.

We foresee this online form of evaluating social capital as becoming extremely prominent in the years to come. With the population’s online presence continuously increasing, it’s just a matter of time.

I challenge you to observe your interactions and consider the value you add to your social capital.

How do YOU see this coming into play in the future? Will we be able to rely on this form of assessment? Will it aid in making informed decisions about potential partners, employees or providers, or rather detract from more legitimate ways of forming opinions?


Social Capital – What is your value?


How to avoid the 96%


“A house divided against itself cannot stand” Abraham Lincoln.

This statement is powerful in many contexts, and strongly applies to the ever so common lack of communication in the workplace. We believe that – a workplace divided against itself cannot stand.

It’s no surprise that communication is a major contributing factor to an effective workplace, and though the common worker is aware of this notion, why then is inadequate communication within the work environment so prevalent? We must do more to create a culture of open dialogue. Good or bad, a lot more needs to be said.

 In a study conducted by salesforce in 2012, it was found that “86% of executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication as the main source of workplace failures”, and since, that number has risen to 96%. 

So, what does this mean? What must we do to create a culture of open dialogue? We must normalize feedback, normalize speaking about general goals. What is everyone doing, how are we going on about it? What are we doing well, what requires improvement? How are we measuring success and what must we do as a collective to improve areas of weakness?

Here are a few approaches to help you improve your everyday-communication in the workplace.

 Anonymous surveys – If starting the conversation is the essence of the problem, an anonymous survey might get the ball rolling. An anonymous survey provides employees with a safe platform to share what they otherwise feel they can’t say. Although, simply offering a survey isn’t enough as 52% [of employers] fail to take any action as a result of feedback, and 27% of managers don’t bother to review survey results at all. You must consult the reviews and act on them, otherwise you are contributing to the lack of effective communication but also, wasting valuable time. This method makes it possible to regularly asses your staff’s overall happiness and level of engagement. This easily opens the dialogue affirming trust and reminds everyone that their opinions are valuable and encouraged.

Instil trust in your team – The group of people you are working with are there due to their merit. For that reason, it’s important to trust them as much as possible. Autonomy not only breeds results, but creativity, innovation and job satisfaction. With this independence, individuals may feel as though they have more control over their job, generating a sense of purpose and a greater investment in the bigger picture.

According to Inc magazine, Atlas Container Crop., a manufacture of shipping materials based out of Maryland, provides their employees the necessary information to then vote on major issues shaping the company (i.e. Disciplinary policies, bonuses, health insurance… etc.). This company takes it a step further and provides access to any member of the company to freely view sales, costs and profits at employee meetings. Though this may not be realistic for all environments, a level of transparency is still possible. A transparent workplace is respected by employees, and ultimately conducive to open dialogue.

Staff meetings, with a purpose – Ensure everyone is in-the-know! Have a round table discussion where everyone can provide an update of progress, obstacles and expected completion date for tasks at hand. This only requires a couple minutes and greatly contributes to creating a sense of open communication.

Every work environment is different, but what is common is the importance of a barrier-free environment where open dialogue is encouraged. Though this change may take time, with the support and leadership of top management, it is something that will truly enhance the everyday work environment.



The 21st Century Meeting

Virtual Meetings 

Face-to-face meetings are beginning to take a back seat as virtual meetings are becoming ever so prominent. This is due to a couple factors:

  • More and more teams are becoming virtual, where players are found all around the world
  • Clients and partners are global
  • Convenience of having meetings from the comfort of your own chair
  • Technology is advancing in a way that makes virtual meetings easier than ever

Virtual meetings can become your best friend, so long as you understand a couple best practices:

Multitasking –  You’re sitting in the comfort of your own chair, with everything including your desktop, email, web-browser, cell-phone and day planner at your disposal. This makes it ever so tempting to multi-task during your meeting, especially when things get dull. Just because you’re behind a screen doesn’t mean you can youtube cat videos, google what to make for dinner that evening, and organize your weekly schedule all while thinking no one will notice. If it wouldn’t be appropriate to do in an in-person meeting, it’s not okay to do during in a virtual meeting. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re invisible behind your screen –  it’s extremely easy to spot out a member that’s distracted by other tasks.

Treat the virtual meeting as if you were in a face-to-face meeting – Introductions and briefings are still important! If a member on the call hasn’t met another member, initiate a quick virtual handshake. Start the meeting off with a short description of its purpose so that everyone is on the same page. Further, many virtual meeting platforms make it easy to share screens. If you’re speaking about a specific item or document, share it so that everyone can see what you’re speaking about.

Engage – Just as we’ve seen with the ease of multitasking, distractions do occur, therefore it is important to engage everyone on the call! Speaking over video can become robotic as you don’t necessarily feel the human interaction as you would in a face-to-face meeting. Talk with the same level of enthusiasm and engagement as you would if they were all there in the room with you. Talk with everyone, not at the screen!

Audio and Video – If you don’t have the option of sharing video, consider rescheduling the meeting until you have access to audio and video. Unless of course the meeting is one-on-one and is simple enough to hold over the phone. The point of a virtual meeting is to create a sense of human interaction. With video, you see very important expressions and emotions that you otherwise don’t experience with just audio.

Agenda – One of the most common complaints is that meetings can quickly become a waste of time. Avoid this by setting a specific agenda as you would for any in-person meeting. It is found that following an agenda is far easier in a virtual setting, as you avoid distractions and off topic conversations that are inevitable during in-person meetings.

Technology has the power of making the workplace far more productive! Virtual meetings can save time and money, and even increase collaboration efficiency. But before you take on this virtual alternative, make sure you understand the dos and don’ts to ensure smooth sailing.



The 21st Century Meeting

Work-Life Balance:  Life, then work, balance.

Where life comes before work, in the work-life balance.


This so called work-life balance is constructed as some magical equation where one should strive to find time for 50% life and 50% work. This is impossible and frankly the wrong way of looking at things. Let’s try to look at it rather as an If-then statement. I want to challenge that : if you are happy at home, then you will be happy (and successful) at work. You need one before you can achieve the other.

So, why has work taken over?

This culture of always having to prove yourself and stand out amongst the rest to advance in your career, or simply be noticed, is extremely common to today’s work world. This has inevitably lead to a diminished work-life balance, where “work” takes the front seat and “life” drags behind. In a Harvard Business School survey, 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week. We live to work and work to live, or so it seems.

Some of you may be proud at the fact that you work your butt off day in and day out. It makes you feel like you’ve got a handle on your career, and maybe even an advantage over colleagues. While others may feel like work is simply piling up against their control.  Although it is important to understand that the quality of your work and your productivity is eminently rooted in the quality of your personal life. As Christine L. Carter, Sociologist and Happiness expert, expressed “How happy you are profoundly influences how well you do your job…what we do outside of work thoroughly influences the energy, motivation, focus, creativity, persistence, insight, and raw intellectual power we bring to a given project or task at work.”

The better your personal life is, the higher your potential to do great work.


How do you begin to regain control over your personal life?

  1. Make (don’t find) time for physical health.You’ve heard it before: you only have one body. Exercise and meditation is a proven stress reducer, as during such activities your body releases a chemical called endorphins which triggers a positive feeling in the body. At first you may find it difficult to make time for yourself, but once you get a handle on it, you’ll soon see a difference in your work. Up goes the energy and down goes the tension.   
  1. Create goals in both your work AND personal life. If you put too much emphasis on one part of your life, there is no doubt that an imbalance will occur.
  1. Time management skills to ensure you are making time for what’s important, including YOU. If you somehow always miss out on you time, try scheduling it into your planner as you would with mandatory work meetings. If you plan out your schedule in a visual format, you can see where is best to allocate time and make it happen. At first it may seem silly, but don’t knock it ‘till you try it! ** Tuesday 9pm to 9:45pm – Read 50 shades of grey hidden under an informative book on world history.

Among these tips, the most important thing to do is self-reflect – only you can make time in your schedule. If you don’t take action and steer your own life, you may never find that balance.  Life is full of excitement, both at work and outside of work. Make the best of both worlds by taking a handle of your happiness first.

Find success in your personal life, and success at work will follow.


Productivity & Creativity Slumps.

Break free from productivity & creativity slumps.

Productive idleness. Creativity slumps. Work irritation. It happens to the best of us, but between us all there are two kinds of people; those who seek to overcome these hurdles, and those who accept it and gradually fall down a slippery slope. Want to know a secret? You can regain your productivity and creativity with one simple change.

Why are we so accustomed to coming into work, in the same space, Monday to Friday?  In the 18th century during the industrial revolution, a mechanistic style of work was necessary in order to manufacture goods. Traits of the industrial revolution thus shaped how we work today.

The office developed to represent bringing workers together into a single common space to maximize productivity. But in today’s 21st century we have to break through this idea that work can and should only be done in a single space amongst your peers.

For those of you who have reached a point of diminished productivity, drive, or creativity, cut yourself some slack because it may not just be you! The simple problem may be that you’re stagnant in a repetitive work routine. My suggestion? Step back from your routine and work in a different environment at least once a week. Yes, it can be that simple.

We can’t break from this routine over night, but we are gradually becoming more open to change. In today’s work world, employers are beginning to adapt to a more hands-off approach to managing their employees, more often allowing them to work away from the office. If you’re an employee and haven’t yet had this discussion with your manager – do it! If you’re a manager and haven’t yet explored the advantages of having your employees work away from the office – listen up!

Try working from a coffee shop or a space other than your work or home. Some may already work from home and see it as stepping away from the office – but this doesn’t count! Find a space completely independent from your life’s routine. But why, you ask? Here are 3 reasons:

  1. Working from a different space fuels creativity. Changing your environment brings new stimuli and input thus generating new creative ideas.
  2. Use this time away from the office to get critical tasks done! You will have zero distractions from colleagues, meetings or calls.
  3. No more procrastination! Work on what you planned to work on by bringing only the things you need.

I challenge you to work in an environment outside of the office once this week. It may just be the answer you’ve been looking for to break free from your creativity or productivity slump.

It can be that simple.


Productivity & Creativity Slumps.

Developing with Skype for Business



The Fantoo Engineering team has been busy integrating Skype functionality into our application in the recent weeks, and we are extremely pleased with the rapid progress being made using the Skype for Business Web SDK.

When Microsoft announced General Availability of their SDK at Build 2016 we knew immediately that it would open up opportunities for us as developers. Since this announcement we have written a number of proof of concepts against the SDK, and in our most recent Sprint we have created our first deliverable which seamlessly integrates Skype conversations into our unique experience.

The easy integration of Skype for Business takes us one step closer to providing collaboration within and between teams. We are looking forward to using the upcoming features and bringing these to our users.
Developing with Skype for Business