Companies will likely need to reassess workplace practices as Gen Y workers come to the fore armed with smartphones and social media savvy.
By Colleen Frye
August 01, 2013
New research from CompTIA suggests that tech-savvy Generation Y workers, poised to dominate the workplace as Baby Boomers retire, will compel employers to rethink how employees communicate, how and where they work, how they receive training, and what tools they use. The new study, Generational Research on Technology and its Impact in the Workplace, is based on a May 2013 online survey of 700 respondents who work in an office environment with some form of technology. CompTIA unveiled the findings at CompTIA ChannelCon 2013.
“In the next five to 10 years, Gen Y will completely dominate the workforce the way that Baby Boomers once did.” Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA
“In the next five to 10 years, Gen Y will completely dominate the workforce the way that Baby Boomers once did,” Todd Thibodeaux, president and chief executive officer, CompTIA, said in his ChannelCon keynote speech. “Generation Y has been raised in technology and they consider their aptitude for tech as a value that they bring to the table when seeking a job.”
The survey respondents represent different age groups and generations in a variety of industries: Generation Y, or Millenials (20 to 34 years old), Generation X (35 to 49 years old), and Baby Boomers (over 50). The study looks at technology adoption, professional development, service and support, and communication.
TECH AND DEVICE USE
Younger workers, the study finds, are more likely to give their company high marks for technology utilization: Six in 10 Gen Y respondents gave their employers net positive ratings vs. 31 percent of Baby Boomers. And 22 percent of Gen Y respondents rate themselves as cutting-edge technology users vs. just 7 percent of Baby Boomers.
Device usage divides along generational lines as well. In the last 12 months, 74 percent of Gen Y workers used a smartphone for work purposes compared with 37 percent of Baby Boomers. Just 6 percent of 20-somethings conducted work on a standard cell phone.
An even starker difference among the generations is seen in the use of personal devices or applications for work—the BYOD and BYOA trends. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Y respondents use a personal device or application for work compared with one-third of Baby Boomers.
TRAINING, IT SUPPORT, AND COMMUNICATIONS
In terms of professional development, 34 percent of all respondents have used e-learning as a training methodology in the last 12 months. Gen Y workers participated in the largest numbers (45 percent), followed by nearly 4 in 10 Gen Xers and 35 percent of Baby Boomers.
Asked about their preferences and expectations for receiving IT support, the research finds that younger workers are more open to a variety of means for getting help, with instant messaging and mobile apps being the most popular. Younger workers also have a greater sense of responsibility when it comes to updating devices, the study finds: 1 in 5 20-somethings believe they should initiate the process, whereas across generations 4 in 10 want IT to initiate the process. Research also indicates that younger workers are less inclined to adhere to IT policies regarding social media.
And when it comes to communication, there are also key differences along generational lines. The study finds that workers under 50 are more likely to use text and instant messaging for work purposes, and workers in their 20s and 30s are more likely to use social media for work purposes. Nine in 10 Gen Yers use Facebook, and 39 percent of 20-somethings and 36 percent of 30-somethings use Facebook for both work and personal purposes. “Factors like these may require employers to adapt to Gen Y’s expectations,” Thibodeaux remarked.
In contrast, just 1 in 5 Baby Boomers use Facebook for both work and personal purposes. Twitter lags behind for all age groups, though Gen Y is most comfortable with tweeting.
As for Gen Z, or Digital Natives, who are coming of age with cloud, tablets, smartphones, and on-demand everything, stay tuned for more workplace evolution.