For a whole new generation of tech-savvy young professionals, having access to social media or the right smartphone in the workplace is at times more important than earning a higher salary. For businesses, that means adapting to this change in priorities rather than resisting it—if the Mad Men-era job force expected noon whiskeys and female secretaries, then our modern-day equivalent demands Facebook and iPhones.
The findings come thanks to Cisco's second annual Connected World Technology Report, a study released today that says attracting and maintaining Millennial talent takes more than the number of zeroes attached to a weekly paycheck. The company surveyed 1,400 college students aged 18 to 23 and 1,400 young professionals under the age of 30 across 14 countries. HR and IT managers take note: "The growing use of the Internet and mobile devices in the workplace is creating a significant impact on job decisions, hiring and work-life balance," the report concluded. "The ability to use social media, mobile devices, and the Internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence job choice, sometimes more than salary."
Cisco's findings are telling of a generation that's been glued to LCD screens and wired to social networks from an early age. According to the report, 40% of college students and 45% of young professionals would accept lower-paying jobs if they had more access to social media, more choice in the devices they could use at work, and more flexibility in working remotely. More than half of the college students surveyed indicated that if an employer banned access to networks like Facebook at work, "they would either not accept a job offer from them or would join and find a way to circumvent."
This technology addiction represents a major opportunity for employers looking to add to their bottom lines while recruiting top talent. For just a few simple workplace concessions (say, allowing employees to choose an iPhone over a BlackBerry, and opening up access to social networks), recruits could be more likely to accept job offers—and at a lower salary. One in four college students, according to the report, said issues like these—while likely baffling to older generations—would represent key factors in their decision to accept a job offer. (To demonstrate just how obsessed Millennials are with their precious tech, Cisco also discovered that more than half of respondents said they'd rather lose their wallets or purses before losing their smartphones or mobile devices.)
At Cisco, the company is exploring internal opportunities to take advantage of the report's findings, which continue to show an increased melding between one's professional and personal life. Employees more and more show an interest in working from home, using a work-issued mobile device for personal purposes, and connect to social networks while on the job. (There's a reason why services such as Yammer, the enterprise version of Facebook, are becoming so popular.) In fact, seven out of 10 college students said company-issued devices should be allowed for personal use. That's why Cisco, for example, is internally testing what's called BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, meaning employees can come to work with whatever technology they prefer—be it an Android smartphone, an iPad, or a Windows-based laptop.
If that's what it takes to recruit top talent these days—especially at a potentially lower price—how can you complain?
[Image: Flickr user Lower Columbia College]