What do young workers want: social media, device freedom

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With the way the job market is these days, young workers can’t always afford to be choosy. But if you think it comes down to just a landing a job and getting some money, think again. The second chapter of the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report shows that young workers weigh their job decisions based on many factors including social media access, choice of device and the ability to work remotely. These things can actually trump salary considerations in some cases.

The report highlights the shifting values of young workers who grew up surrounded by social media and connected devices. Now, wanting these perks and getting them are two different things but the report shows the growing expectations of this generation and what employers should think about providing if they want to recruit top workers coming out of college. They’re not really perks to this generation but increasingly what they expect when they go to work.

For its second report, Cisco surveyed 2,800 workers under 30 and college students about to enter the work force in 14 countries. Here are some of the interesting findings:

  • One in three respondents (33 percent) said that they would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer.
  • 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young employees said they would accept lower pay if they get more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility as opposed to a higher pay with less flexibility.
  • 56 percent of college students said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or would join and find a way  to circumvent corporate policy. One in four overall (24 percent) said social media access would be a key factor in accepting a job.
  • 81 percent of college students want to choose the device for their job. They want to either receive budgeted funds to buy their own work device or bring in a personal device in addition to a standard company-issued machine. And 68 percent of employees believe their companies should allow them to access social media and personal sites with their work-issued devices.
  • 77 percent of employees have multiple devices, such as a laptop and a smartphone or multiple phones and computers and one in three employees globally (33 percent) uses at least three devices for work. Half of all respondents (49 percent) said they would rather lose their wallet or purse than their smartphone or mobile device.
  • 29 percent of college students surveyed feel that once they begin working, it will be their right, not just a privilege, to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule. In fact 70 percent of college students and 69 percent of employees believe it is unnecessary to be in the office regularly, with the exception of important meetings. One in four students feel their productivity would increase if they could work from home or remotely.
  •  Currently, 57 percent of employees can connect to their corporate network from some  remote locations, but only 28 percent can do so at anytime, from any location. Two in five (43 percent) consider it a critical function of their job to be able to connect to the network from any location at any time.

Now, again this is a long list of expectations for employees who, of course, will want whatever they can get. But savvy IT and HR professionals may want to take note of what this next generation expects in the office. Sheila Jordan, Cisco’s VP of Communication and
Collaboration IT, said these young workers and college students prize their devices and social networks and increasingly don’t distinguish between their personal and work worlds.

Those expectations will force IT officials to look at their infrastructure and device policies and require some companies to rethink the metrics of how they measure employee productivity and effectiveness, Jordan said. Companies don’t have to offer everything to all employees but they should think about offering more choice in a way that minimizes risk, said Jordan.  This is just a reflection of the consumerization of IT and how consumer trends are affecting the expectations of workers.

“What happens in the consumer space is happening in the enterprise. We’re seeing this way of communicating and collaborating and that expectation is coming to work. I think those expectations already exist, it’s a matter of how fast IT can accommodate them while meeting needs and minimizing risk,” Jordan said.

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