Understanding the behavior and expectations of the world’s next generation of workers will be critical for organizations seeking to attract the best talent now and in the coming years. With the advent of numerous social media tools and an explosion in mobile technology, it is not hard to understand that the ways that young professionals and students work significantly differs today compared with the past.
This week, the Cisco Connected World Technology Report was released. The study had two focus groups, students in college/university (aged 18-23) and young workers (aged 21-29) with equal weighting across 14 countries including Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan, India, and Australia. The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by InsightExpress who spoke to 2800 individuals.
The study is comprised of three parts. The first installment, released yesterday, covers how students and young workers consider the importance of the Internet and social media, how the lines between work and personal lives are blurring along with priorities for how this generation consumes content. The next two installments will be released in weeks ahead and will discuss young workers and students expectations around use of technology devices in the workplace, remote access, attitudes around IT restrictions, security and privacy.
Its no surprise that over 54% of Canadian college/university students and 60% of employees said they could not live without the Internet and cited it as an “integral part of their lives” but what was a little surprising are the things they placed its importance over including music, going to parties, and dating. The study also found that given the choice of only having a car or Internet access, 67% of students of students would chose the Internet and not a car. Wow times have changed.
What is remarkable is the similarity in results across the world whether students and young employees were from China, Russia, Brazil, or Canada. There were definitely a few caveats to that, for instance in France the students still value dating over the Internet by a wide margin, whereas every other country in the world the Internet won out.
One area Canada rated higher than most other countries including the USA was in student and young employees preference around importance of devices in their daily lives. Three out of five (59%) Canadian young employees valued their mobile devices (laptop, smartphone, tablet) over desktop computers, TV, radio or newspapers. This increases to four out of five (78%) when you ask the same questions of students, as compared to 66% of students on a global basis.
The prevalence of mobile devices might explain why, when students were asked how many times they are distracted in an hour when working heads-down on a project, 90% stated they would be at least once, 50% said five times or more and 15% of students replied so frequent they couldn’t keep count.
Another interesting stat was that three out of five young employees “friend” co-workers and/or managers. This highlights the blurring of personal and work lives that we continue to see.
Organizations need to consider these trends on many levels. They need to embrace mobility, social media and flexibility in the workplace to not only attract the best and brightest but to reach their prospective new customers in ways they want to interact.
For further information this and last year’s Cisco Connected World Technology Reports are available for download at http://www.cisco.com/en/US/netsol/ns1120/index.html