Watch Out: Millennials in the Workforce

Allison Howen
by Allison Howen 04 Nov, 2011

The Internet is just as important as air, water, food and shelter, according to one in every three college students and young professionals that participated in a recent study from networking leader Cisco.

The global report focuses on the next generation of the world's workforce - of which I am a member - and it has arrived at some interesting conclusions about millennials and our technological needs, as well as our career expectations.

The most important takeaways from the study are simple. 1) Technology is an integral part of people's lives today and also to the success of modern businesses. 2) As younger people like myself continue to enter the workforce, companies should expect and foster more Internet- and social media-savvy work environments.

Below are some of the main findings from the study:

Technological Needs

The influence of technology is seen everywhere - from millennials claiming that the Internet is as important as air, to the recent baby-turned-YouTube-phenomenon that thought a magazine was a broken iPad. With that being said, the rest of the statistics in this report emphasize just how important technology is, especially in the future.

According to the report, 64 percent of college students would choose an Internet connection over a car, while 40 percent claim that the Internet is more important than dating, going out with friends and listening to music. Furthermore, 66 percent of students and 58 percent of young workers claim that a mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) is the most important technology in their lives - with 19 percent claiming that smartphones are the most important devices that are used on a daily basis.

Career Expectations

So what does this type of information mean for the future? One might conclude that the future workforce will more diligently include technology into their careers, and may not care as much about salary as prior generations have. 

The study revealed that 33 percent of college students and young employees would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility and work mobility over salary when accepting a job offer. Additionally, 40 percent of college students and 45 percent of young employees would accept a lower-paying job that has more flexibility with regard to device choice, social-media access and mobility than a higher-paying job with less flexibility.

"These findings among college students and young employees indicate the freedom to access social media and use devices is increasingly important to the next generation of the world's workforce - in some cases, more important than salary," says Sheila Jordan, VP Communication and Collaboration IT, Cisco. "The results in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report demonstrate how companies need to acknowledge this fact in greater numbers, and respond accordingly - for many industries, the status quo of previous work environments is becoming a thing of the past."

Findings also showed that 56 percent of millennials would not accept a job from a company that bans social media, or they would circumvent the policy.

And, in perhaps one of the most surprising statistics from the study, 29 percent of students believe it will be their right - more than a privilege - to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule.

Personal Analysis

While the findings of this study can further emphasize my generation's stereotype of being entitled to anything we want, I personally don't know any millennial who thinks it is their "right" to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule. Additionally, the college students and "young professionals" that I know are simply happy to have jobs in the current economy, and would not decline a job based on a social-media policy.