This article was published on January 25, 2012

Generation Y: The New Kind of Workforce

Generation Y: The New Kind of Workforce
Ekaterina Walter
Story by

Ekaterina Walter

Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist at Intel. She is a part of Intel’s Social Media Center of Excellence and is responsible for co Ekaterina Walter is a social media strategist at Intel. She is a part of Intel’s Social Media Center of Excellence and is responsible for company-wide social media enablement and corporate social networking strategy. She was recently elected to serve on the Board of Directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).

Fifty percent of world population is under 30 years old. Generation Y is the first generation to grow up with technology; they experience technology even before romance enters their lives. They are digital natives – their whole social lives are on social networks. And that impacts their behaviors, attitudes and expectations… especially their expectations toward future employers. It seems that money isn’t one of the primary motivators for this generation.

Cisco recently published its Connected World Report, the results of which are quite shocking. Out of 2,800 college students and young professionals under the age of 30 and hailing from 14 countries, approximately one in three said he/she would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer. 64% of college students asks about social media usage policies during job interviews and approximately 24% says it would be a key factor in accepting the offer. There is also a high expectation of the employee for the employer to offer a flexible schedule and freedom to work remotely.

A Generation Y and Facebook study done by Millennial Branding and Identified shows that Gen-Yers are using their personal networks and profiles as an extension of their professional personality. Even though they are using Facebook to mostly socialize with family and friends, they are inadvertently blending the two. Sixty-four percent of Gen-Y fails to list their employer on their profiles, yet they add an average of 16 co-workers each to their “friend” group.

Not only that, the study truly shows youngsters’ entrepreneurial spirit and their collective attitudes toward job loyalty. “Owner” is the fifth most popular job title for Gen-Y on their Facebook profiles. Those that do enter workforce spend an average of just over 2 years at their first job. They are job hopping multiple times in their careers.

Dan Schawbel, Founder of Millennial Branding, states: “Only 7% of Gen-Y works for a Fortune 500 company because startups are dominating the workforce for this demographic in today’s economy. If large corporations want to remain competitive, they need to aggressively recruit Gen-Y workers. According to Business and Professional Women’s Foundation Gen-Y will form 75% of the workforce by 2025 and is actively shaping corporate culture and expectations. Big corporations can’t afford to be left behind.”

These studies show that if companies want to retain young talent, they need to display trust in their young workforce and allow Gen-Yers to operate entrepreneurially within the corporation by giving them control over their time and activities.

But companies have concerns. After all, according to Palo Alto Networks, a network security company, social media use on work computers jumped 300% in a single year. While companies are concerned about the security and productivity risks social media usage poses in the workplace (some even ban this activity), I believe they need to come to terms with the fact that social network usage is more of a lifestyle to young employees than a distraction.

Also read: Number Crunching: The Top 51 stats for Generation Y marketers

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