More blurring of lines between personal and work lives, a greater emphasis on social media engagement, and stronger views on technology are some of the trends that may shape the future workplace, according to new research from CompTIA, an IT industry association. “Managing the Multigenerational Workforce” examines how generational issues are changing workforce dynamics today and into the future.
The study is based on two online surveys – the first of 700 business professionals; the second, 1,010 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24. Both surveys were conducted in September 2015. The report is available for download (registration required) on the CompTIA website.
“Like the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that preceded them, Millennials have strong preferences and priorities on what they think the workplace should look like,” said Seth Robinson, senior director, technology analysis, CompTIA. “It will be interesting to see if these preferences become the norm as more millennials enter senior leadership positions; or if millennials change their views as they take on greater responsibilities to clients, communities, employees and shareholders.”
According to the report, younger workers who’ve grown up in an era where flexibility is the norm expect that to extend to their work arrangements. Millennials want to work for companies that offer an option to telecommute, even if it means accepting a lower salary. Companies that don’t offer a telecommuting option are viewed as old -fashioned.
Across all age groups, the majority of workers want an arrangement that features some days in the office and some days at home, with a greater number of days in the office. The collaboration, connection, and creativity that results from face-to-face interaction with co-workers remains important to employees regardless of age.
Employees in their 20s and 30s are much more likely to use social media, such as Facebook, for work purposes – about three in 10 within each age group. By contrast, less than 20% of Baby Boomers use Facebook for work purposes and 25% do not use Facebook at all, for work or personal use.
The blurring of lines between work and personal lives – and the information being shared via social media channels – is cause for concern among businesses and acknowledged as a potential problem by employees. “Organizations should seriously consider building a policy around social media to define proper behaviors and minimize the risk of sensitive data being shared,” Robinson said.
That may be tricky, however. Younger workers see a greater connection between social media and their work and feel that their social media skills are an important element of the skill set they bring to their jobs.
Three-quarters of Millennials say a company’s technology usage is a factor in their employment decisions, compared to just over half of Baby Boomers. “The data also suggests that younger workers are more apt to feel that their employer is pushing the technology envelope, suggesting that they’re taking greater advantage of what’s being offered,” said Anna Matthai, manager, research and market intelligence, CompTIA. “As the world becomes more digital, businesses with the best technology will be in the best position to compete for and hire younger workers.”
Email remains the most prevalent form of workplace communications, but newer forms of communications such as Skype, text, and instant messaging are claiming an increasingly bigger footprint, especially among workers under the age of 50.
When technology support issues arise in the workplace younger workers are more inclined to turn to instant messaging, video chat, and the use of mobile apps for resolution. They’re also open to the use of social media for IT support related to maintenance, repair and troubleshooting of devices and applications.