The generational gap in the workplace has become a much discussed topic in recent years as an increasing number of graduates are joining the workforce while at the same time more seniors are delaying retirement to a later age.
The blend of baby boomers and Gen Z in the office has its challenges with technology seen as one of the main causes of the generational divide in the workplace today.
Tech association CompTIA revealed that although employees across the generations have similar career goals, millennials are much more comfortable using technology, and view their older colleagues as rigid and stuck in their ways.
Meanwhile, research conducted by Canadian recruitment agency Robert Half, showed that communication skills, the ability to adapt to change and technological abilities are the top three areas where generations differ the most in the workplace.
Generations X and Y often view change "as a vehicle for new opportunities”, while Gen Z simply "is accustomed to change and expects it in the workplace". Baby boomers on the other hand are more reluctant and cautious when it comes to adapting to changes.
When it comes to technological skills, unsurprisingly, baby boomers and Gen X are more inclined to learn via "traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools," while millennials preferred "collaborative and technology-centric" vehicles.
This attitude towards technology is confirmed by research from data analytics company Nielsen which shows that more than 74 percent of millennials believe new technology makes their lives easier, compared to 31 percent of Generation X and just 18 percent of Baby Boomers.
Technology evolutions in business travel
Corporate Traveller has seen similar trends in the area of business travel. Business travellers today are faced with new technology such as Artificial Intelligence, chatbots and sophisticated online booking tools to help them book their travels. However, not all travellers are keen to embrace these changes.
Technology's rapid evolution has led to a surge of digital tools in every area of the corporate’s life. These tools can not only enhance the travel and booking experience for the traveller, they can also lead to lower transaction fees for the company. However, although companies are often keen to drive tech adoption among their employees, this can in fact create a gap between generations. Some employees are simply more tech ready than others, which can create friction.
The blended approach
Corporate Traveller believes that the solution is for companies to adopt a ‘blended’ approach to technology. We understand the nuances of the different business travel requirements across the generations. That is why our approach to travel management is not only based on the latest technology, but also on small teams of highly experienced travel experts providing personal service, support and guidance when needed.
Success in a world of blended technology comes from ensuring that technology enhances human efforts to create a seamless experience for the travelling employee.
If the traveller is booking a simple trip from Johannesburg to Cape Town for two days to meet important clients, a technological tool such as an online booking tool is a great solution. The company can load the travel policy into the booking tool, so the traveller can book in a few simple clicks without breaking from company policy.
However, imagine the traveller gets a distressing phone call from home that he needs to fly back asap. It is after hours, the last flight is leaving soon. The last thing the traveller will want to do is log onto an online tool to try and book a seat.
In those cases, it’s important to know an expert consultant is just a call away to provide support and help with flight arrangements.
The same is true for complicated itineraries that require the high touch input of a consultant. If the traveller is planning an elaborate trip to woo the investors of the company around the world, he will benefit from the personal advice on visas, and itinerary management of a professional consultant. A travel management company will be able to help arrange forex, assist with visa applications and arrange airport transfers, all in one transaction.
Tools such as virtual assistants and online booking tools are created to make the lives of travel buyers, travel arrangers and travellers easier and are not aimed at replacing the travel arranger.
Technology can, in fact, provide a more tailored approach to corporate travel, which means the individual preferences of travellers can be met. Artificial Intelligence and bots should not replace human interaction but can help service providers deliver a better and more personalised customer experience.
A well-considered blended tech approach will not divide the workforce, but will help build a bridge between the different generations.
Before you start making decisions about your business travel tech, it's important to understand the market and the available options. Download your copy to this guide to learn how to move your business travel into the 21st century.