Brace yourself, senior executives — according to the recently released “2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report,” there is something the latest generation of employees value more than money.
It’s Facebook, Twitter, OkCupid and the fundamental human right for every individual to choose the brand of cell phone they like best. I don’t think the framers put it in the constitution, but if Thomas Jefferson ever laid his eyes on an iPhone 4S, I’m sure he would have stuck it in there well before the right to bear arms and the right to free speech. After all, how important are these rights when compared to some corporate bureaucrat insisting that you give up your Android phone for a Blackberry?
“Young professionals want open environment that accommodates social media, device freedom, remote working to accommodate their lifestyle and inspire innovation — will take lower salary if necessary,” is the summary of the study’s results. Is this surprising? Not to me.
Sure, the “next generation workforce,” aka “Millennials” or “Generation Y,” value the freedom to choose and use their own types of technology. But so do members of Generations A to X. Even we aging Baby Boomers want to choose our own technology. The only difference is that while the young’uns lobby for Facebook to build community, we fight for a Mr. Coffee machine in the break room, so we can gather around and swap stories about our bouts of arthritis and show photos of our grandchildren. They use Twitter. We use Hallmark Cards — the kind printed on “paper” and mailed with a “stamp.” (Look them up on Wikipedia, Millennials. I don’t chew my spinach twice.)
What is indeed shocking is that even in this miserable job market, some survey participants insist they would not take a job that would separate them from their iPad for even the 8 hours a day their meanie bosses might insist they spend at work.
According to the survey results, “40 percent of college students, and 45 percent of young employees said they would accept a lower-paying job that had more flexibility with regard to device choices, social media access and mobility than a higher paying job with less flexibility.”
In fact, “more than half of college students globally said that if they encountered a company that banned access to social media, they would either not accept a job offer or would join and find a way to circumvent corporate policy.”
Personally, in this economy, you can take away my cell phone and my right arm, too, and I still would not turn down a job. On the other hand, I do embrace the “circumvent corporate policy” attitude. I’ve long believed that our genius for sneaking around the arcane rules and regulations of the IT and HR departments is the only hope our country has to succeed in the world economy. Other nations may have people who will work harder for less money, but no one will put more creativity and effort into finagling their way around dumb company rules than a U.S. worker.
It is also, I think, a good sign that 25 percent of Generation Y employees mention “slacking off” as a response to an authoritarian technology culture. Older workers, like thee and me, have been slacking off for decades. The difference is that we thought we were taking advantage. We never realized we were taking a stand.
The survey also shows that 29 percent of students “feel that once they begin working, it will be their right — more than a privilege — to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule.” For me, this shows the idealism of youth. Wait until they strap themselves into their Aeron chairs for forty years of hard labor. They’ll soon realize that the ultimate goal of the employee is to not work remotely or at the office. Now that’s flexibility.
Like us, these Generation Y people are wondering why they have to show up at work. Seventy percent “believe it is unnecessary to be in the office regularly, with the exception of an important meeting.” This is impressive. Consider how many years of employment it took you to realize that being in the office is unnecessary. And the “important meeting” exception is genius. Since exactly 0 percent of the endless meetings you attend are important, if you followed the Millennials’ lead, you’d never have to come in to work at all!
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org