3 sure-fire ways to alienate your most promising Gen Y workers

Communications technology plays an important role in employee productivity, but a Cisco study points out pitfalls

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Cisco Generation Y Canada

The fourth annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report includes plenty of information about younger “Generation Y” workers and how they use communications technology. Read a certain way, the report illustrates how even best intentioned network and IT managers alienate young employees through improper communications tech planning and implementation.

We note three guaranteed ways to upset the 20-something crowd: force them to telecommute; make mobile applications a priority for another day; and ignore the need for speedy app development and service delivery.

1. Crank up the virtual private networks and send everyone home

We often hear that members of Gen Y want to work anywhere. But the survey’s findings tell a slightly different story. Compared to other groups, a greater number of Gen Y respondents said they’re more focused and productive when working in the office.

“It’s not all about telework,” says Cisco Canada’s chief technology officer Jeff Seifert. For young workers, the office “provides a space for mentoring, a physical place for collaborative teamwork.”

At the same time, about two-thirds of survey takers believe companies that incorporate flexible, mobile and remote work models have a competitive advantage. This desire for both mobility and a central office tells us businesses should most certainly enable employees to work from different locations. Yet organizations should think twice before shuttering their HQs and sending everyone out to work solely from home or cafes.

2. Ignore the call for mobile

Smartphones and wearable devices are likely to be the tools workers will want to use to access, process and create corporate information in the future. According to Cisco’s study, 60 percent of Gen X professionals and 81 percent of HR professionals think Gen Y workers already perform tasks more quickly than older employees do when using mobile apps. Looking ahead to the year 2020, the largest proportion of survey respondents said the smartphone would be the worker’s most important connected device.

Numerous technology consultants and analysts have said for a while that businesses should design software and services for use on mobile devices primarily. Cisco’s findings suggest that approach will become indispensible for organizations in the coming years as Gen Y employees move up the management ladder, seeking mobile-friendly software at every rung. Companies that ignore this trend do so at their peril.

3. Don’t worry about fast application development

Survey respondents said Gen Y employees have “I want it now” attitudes, which might help as well as hurt employers. On one hand, youngsters’ quests for quick fulfillment could compel companies to grasp opportunities and improve sales. But it may also translate into impatience: Gen Y users won’t want to wait for new communications services; they’ll itch for on-the-spot app development.

The lesson for Canadian corporations: quicken app and service provisioning, or risk losing frustrated talent to faster, nimbler competitors.

Blurred borderlines

Often when contemplating data such as the information in the Connected World Technology Report, analysts see different priorities for distinct locations—greater interest in telework among U.K. respondents, for instance, or a heightened need for service-delivery speed in the U.S. But not this time. Seifert was struck by how similar the responses were from respondents everywhere.


“It’s indicative of the time and world we live in,” he says. It’s also indicative for businesses: mistakes made with respect to serving local users today may hinder organizations as they grow their global footprints.

photo credit: Merlijn Hoek via photopin cc

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