Social media and Generation Y

A recent report from Microsoft and Insurity in the US found that 71% used IM and 77% used social networking sites on a daily or frequent basis, with over 2/3rds of them belonging to 2 or more social networking sites. But surprisingly 15% said they did not belong to a social network site. While this might not be news what their views were of access in the office might surprise you.

Over 75% say they would expect to have or use the following within a professional workplace:

  • web-based searches (80%)
  • office productivity applications (79%)

However less than 50% would expect or use the following:

  • social networking sites (40%)
  • company provided virtual meetings (42%)
  • personal instant messenger (45%)
  • mobile or smart phones paid by company (48%)
  • Wikipedia or other Wikis (49%)

Now while less than 50% wanted access to these tools can your organisation really afford to “turn off” these potential employees given the current shortage for talent?

For IT department that lock down every piece of technology, 91% said having more access to innovative technologies would influence their decisions in taking a job. Only access to flexible work schedules or location was considered more important to these respondents. To make things even worse for the average IT department the ability to work with newer, innovative technology was ranked more important than than:

  • being able spend time on outside charitable efforts (70%)
  • being able to work with people their age (71%)
  • opportunities to work on collaborative team projects (72%)
  • and the ability to telecommute or work from home (77%)

Now what about a workplace that provides access to these basic tools but also has collaborative tools to enable blogging, social bookmarking, tagging and other Enterprise 2.0 tools? I suspect they would attract Generation Y candidates, don’t you?

10 thoughts on “Social media and Generation Y

  1. Michael,
    What was the demographic and size of the population sample for the survey ?

    Without this information those figures are meaningless.

    I followed the Microsoft link but it just goes to a page about Microsoft solutions for the insurance industry :

  2. Kevin the survey is on the page on the right hand side direct link In answer to your question is the survey was conducted by KRC Research online with about 503 people in the U.S. & 201 in Canada, percentages weighted reflect the population proportions of the countries. I was originally alerted to the survey via ComputerWorld (;1953477164;pp;1) and contacted KRC Research who put me onto Microsoft PR where I found the survey link.

  3. Thanks Michael, the link wasn’t very obvious 🙂

    When it comes to surveys I’m a bit of a skeptic, because you can craft the questions to generate the results you want. Alarms bells start ringing immediately for me when I see a sample size of just 704 out of a total population of around 335 million people, spanning an age range of 9 years.

    I note that 62% of the people surveyed were not working, which probably means they have never worked, they’re probably students given the age range. When they get full time jobs and have a reality check I suspect a lot less than 48% of them will expect their employer to pay for their smartphone 🙂

    Can you tell I’m not convinced ?

  4. I just love when people post stuff that is useful! Thanks Michael.

    I’ll be sure to let you know if I come across any useful information.

  5. Kevin, I agree with you to a point. However if you look at how employers are attracting graduate talent and what happens within their first couple of years in the workforce this is very interesting. However I agree on the smartphone thing, in fact a survey from Graduate Careers Australia found that a company paid for mobile phone was the one least attractive benefits which is interesting. I am reviewing this survey at the moment to see if I can find an Australian perspective. I have also hear anecdotal evidence that access to social media tools is important to graduates in Australia but still looking for solid evidence.

  6. Michael, frankly it would concern me if access to Facebook from work was a key factor in someone joining my company (not that we block access to FB or anything else). In the vast majority of companies Facebook is not a business tool.

    Some of the highest ranked stuff in that survey, such as PC, MS Office apps, are a given, just like a phone, desk and chair. It goes without saying that you have to give people the tools to do the job.

    Getting back to Gen(eralisation) Y, I know numerous people who fit into the Gen Y age bracket, I also have a couple whom I employ, and I am quite sure none of them would be bothered at all if they couldn’t access Facebook from work . Everyone is just too busy, (with their work).

    I’m sick and tired of being told that employers need to provide all sorts of facilities for personal communication in the workplace in order to attract graduates. The reality is the people you would really want to hire want the same things that most us us wanted when we started out. That is, an interesting job with a reputable company, which offers opportunities for learning, personal development and career progression, (and of course a reasonable salary).

  7. Kevin, I agree and disagree. While yes everyone is busy with their work, FB (and others) are becoming the default email client for many people and so it will become a retention factor.

    FB is not a business tool for most organisations completely agree, and you don’t want the average bank teller using FB instead of serving customers.

    I guess I look at it from where we have come in the last 25 years or so. At one point a phone and a PC were deemed not required to do a job, and part of one of my first jobs was reviewing the daily phone call listings to stop personal phone calls. So I guess I feel overtime these tools will be allowed into the enterprise.

    Interesting I found out yesterday during The Scoop podcast that 38% of companies Gartner have interviewed have blocked FB. But the feel was these companies were in the wrong.

  8. Michael – thanks for posting and summarizing this data. It’s a nice snapshot of Generation-Y staff and their expectations of the workplace going forward – without regurgitating some of the same old stuff that we’ve heard about Gen-Y over the last few years.

    Great post!

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