CIO Symmetry

Feb 9 2012   10:52PM GMT

Are your social media policies turning off your Millennials?

Sarah Blanchette Profile: Sarah Blanchette

There’s a certain sense of technology entitlement among my Millennial peers. If you don’t believe me, walk into any college classroom on any college campus and you will see the majority of the students there either glued to their smartphones, surfing the Web on their new MacBooks or scrolling through their shiny tablets. Most are blatantly ignoring the lecture in order to be in constant connection with the Internet world; cutting oneself off from Facebook for an hour seems more dangerous than failing that upcoming midterm.

This entitlement apparently carries through to Millennials in the workplace, and was further confirmed by the Cisco Connected World Technology Report. Among a number of intriguing findings, there were only a few that actually shocked me. The most surprising was that more than half (56%) of college students either would reject a job with strict social media policies or would attempt to find a way to circumvent those policies. The fact that college students would reject or risk a job because they wouldn’t have access to their precious social network was at first concerning.

After some thought, however, the Cisco report makes sense. Millennials have lived the majority of their lives consumed by technology. By the time most of us were in high school, it was mandatory to pass in a typed paper, and when we were in college, emailing assignments became the norm. We’re a generation that has seen computers transform from massive machines that dominate a desk to handheld devices that can do everything but read our minds. Most of us taught our parents how to write a text or open an email account. Young people not only have witnessed the Internet revolution, but also were among the key figures leading the charge — the most obvious example being Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and 27-year-old billionaire.

There’s a long list of things I would consider deal-breakers when scoping out a real career post-graduation, but harsh social media policies probably would be towards the bottom (although most Millennials in the workplace seem to disagree). However, senior executives should realize that strict social media policies could drive away some of the brightest, most qualified young people, as shown in the Cisco report. Young people realize that the office is not the classroom. They know that they can’t waste hours on social media, but they don’t want to give up their precious social networks completely. CIOs want Millennials in the workplace to stay productive, but I can assure you that the 30 seconds we take to check our Facebook every hour will not impact our work.  We’re accustomed to networking and actually working simultaneously. Sure, we have a lot to learn in the business world, but there’s also a few things we could show you. Just don’t be concerned by the fact that we constantly have a tab open for Facebook.

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