The Next Generation Workforce Demands Sustainable IT

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PwC reports that Millennials and Gen Z currently comprise 38% of the workforce—a number predicted to jump to 58% by 2030. However, Millennial and Gen Z workers have some critical differences from their Baby Boomer counterparts that require organizations to make major shifts in their tech status quo. Namely, both generations list environmental friendliness and sustainability as top priorities – especially when choosing where they work. 

51% of Gen Z U.S. business students stated they’d accept less pay to work at an environmentally responsible company—which means companies would do well to invest in sustainable IT for the new workforce. Implementing workflow optimization and automation is the best way for organizations to achieve the workplace that the next generation demands by improving digital employee experience (DEX) and integrating sustainable IT practices into daily operations.

How sustainability provides workers with the digital employee experiences they crave

Even if they’re not outright saying it, the Millennial and Gen Z workforces crave a positive digital employee experience (DEX). Meeting sustainability expectations is critical to providing that positive digital employee experience for Millennials and Gen Z. According to Deloitte, 50% of Gen Z workers and 46% of Millennials are currently pushing their employer to drive change on environmental issues. 

Here are a few ways sustainable IT can enhance DEX:

  • Improve engagement and morale. Gen Z and Millennial employees are a values-driven generation. When they feel that their values align with their organization’s, it can significantly increase overall engagement and morale. 
  • Enable better workflows with efficient and reliable technology. Sustainable IT inherently aligns with adopting more modern, efficient technologies and processes. When workflows are optimized and automated to mitigate unnecessary repetitive tasks, it can significantly reduce the chances of frustration or burnout. 
  • Enhance communication and collaboration. Sustainable IT practices promote the adoption of tools and platforms that help mitigate unnecessary and redundant human intervention, streamlining communication and fostering better teamwork.

The challenges of integrating sustainable IT practices

While integrating sustainable IT practices is necessary for organizations that hope to retain the next generation of talent, moving toward sustainability presents challenges that highly impact workflow productivity. These challenges include:

Data volume and velocity

Matillion and IDG found that organizations experience monthly data growth of 63% per month on average. More IT systems are connected to a single company than ever, creating a massive volume of data at high velocities. Managing and processing this data in real-time and manually without overwhelming teams and leading to performance bottlenecks is virtually impossible

Data consistency and quality

Organizations must often process data from diverse and disparate sources, which makes it difficult to standardize company-wide data aggregation, collection, and analysis. More likely than not, there will be inconsistent data formats, missing values, and errors seriously impacting the accuracy and integrity of any data collected—which then forces teams to sink time and energy into identifying and remediating mistakes.

Resource and expertise constraints

Data moves fast in modern digital ecosystems, so workers must move even faster. However, it can be challenging to build the infrastructure and expertise needed to aggregate data (which isn’t always accurate or high-quality) from disparate sources—and then mine that data for insights. While investing in certain tools, personnel, and training can help mitigate resource strain, companies with tighter budgets may still experience significant bottlenecks here. Additionally, more is not always better. Simply adding tools or solutions to a tech stack doesn’t necessarily guarantee greater productivity.

These issues all negatively impact a major value of Millennial and Gen Z workers: convenience. Our 2023 Global Digital Employee Experience Survey Report found that 68% of Millennial and Gen Z are likely to go elsewhere if their employer’s DEX, which includes convenience and ease of use, does not meet their standards.

How workflow optimization and automation can help sustainability and DEX

While balancing IT device performance and reducing environmental impact might seem like unrelated ideas, they are in fact deeply intertwined. These goals can functionally support each other when approached with this critical mindset: Sustainable IT is better IT. 

Here are a few places where workflow optimization and automation can help organizations meet sustainability goals and ideals:

Energy efficiency

IT workflow automation can help significantly optimize (i.e. reduce when it’s not necessary) energy usage. With the proper automation, teams can schedule maintenance tasks during off-peak hours or even turn off devices, lights, and other energy sources when they’re not in use or needed. Organizations can leverage AI to enable energy-efficient algorithms and other automated processes that reduce overall power consumption, shrinking their carbon footprint and lowering their operational costs.

Resource optimization

The right workflow optimization and automation strategies solve experience and resource gaps. Workflow optimization inherently involves streamlining processes by reducing unnecessary steps and mitigating the need for human intervention—which can also help eliminate bottlenecks. Optimization and automation are most efficiently applied here when they remove the need for humans to carry out repetitive tasks that machines could do. When organizations standardize these automation procedures, IT systems can utilize their existing resources more efficiently, thereby reducing waste and excess energy expenditure.

Automated data validation and real-time data cleansing

When organizations automate data validation, they can identify and rectify data discrepancies or anomalies with rigor and timeliness. This ensures higher data accuracy, significantly reducing unnecessary human intervention when vetting data for quality and relevance. Additionally, automated workflows can address real-time data cleansing and enrichment. This helps identify and rectify data inconsistencies with greater accuracy and speed, reducing the environmental impact of operational inefficiencies.

New generations, new expectations, new technology

Millennials are about to enter their prime earning years, while Gen Z prospects flood the workforce in droves. As both generations actively seek out organizations that meet their values (and are willing to leave those that don’t), companies will need to live up to expectations of sustainability.

Implementing workflow optimization and automation in the right instances can significantly reduce environmental impact by streamlining inefficient processes. With automation enabling sustainable IT practices, companies can eliminate unnecessary human intervention, creating a more positive, productive, and environmentally friendly environment for all generations of workers.

Want to learn more about the key to implementing sustainable IT? Check out our white paper, The Role of Unified Observability in Sustainable IT, to take a deeper dive.

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