The generation currently entering the workforce can barely even remember the dark days before Al Gore invented the internet. These "digital natives" would — nay, will — have their phones implanted into their arms someday, and if they're forced to go more than 20 minutes without checking Facebook they may start shaking uncontrollably and begging you to "like" them. It's all terribly frightening for adults who spent their formative years playing tic-tac-toe in the dirt with a stick, but thankfully Cisco has performed a study to bridge the generational gap in the workplace.
According to CBS News, in a study of 1,400 students and 1,400 professionals ages 21 to 29 in 14 countries, Cisco found that one in three young people consider the internet to be as essential to their survival as air, water, food, and shelter. Either they're addicted to the internet, or social studies teachers are doing a horrible job with that "needs versus wants" lesson in the first week of 6th grade. The respondents said they value the internet far more than any other type of technology, with only one in 10 saying TV is the most important device they own. The results were even more dismal for books. One in five students said they hadn't bought a physical book in two years, signaling that one day people will be trying to comb their hair with books, Little Mermaid-style.
The intent of the research wasn't just to frighten elderly employers. It's also meant to confuse them. The study advises against companies blocking access to Facebook and certain websites that have "sex" in their tag line because that really ticks off young workers. Cisco found:
- One in three college students and young employees under the age of 30 said 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 and young employees said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choice, social media access, and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.
- 81 percent want to choose the device for their job - either receiving budgeted funds to buy a work device of their choice or bringing in a personal one in addition to company-issued devices.
Young workers just like to know they have the freedom to access social networking sites and entertainment websites. This certainly doesn't mean that they intend to spend 90% of their workday posting snarky comments on websites and navigating that weird Facebook feed in their Facebook feed.
Also, despite 20-somethings' passion for social media, business colleagues should never attempt to reach out to them on the internet. Last year a report found that only 33% of young people are comfortable with recruiters contacting them online. You might think it's because their profiles feature photos of unspeakably depraved acts and they haven't mastered Facebook's ever-changing privacy controls, but they're actually just shockingly traditional when it comes to the job application process. There's still something to be said for a non-incriminating paper résumé and cover letter.
Survey: Facebook Access Beats Cash For Gen Y [CBS News]
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