Cisco Connected World report: High perks not the main attraction for youthful staff

A recent Cisco study, titled Connected World Report whose results were highlighted at the Cisco Expo 2011 meeting in South Africa states that young professionals are attracted by open work environments that accommodate use of social media, device freedom and remote working and not just high salaries.

The desire of young professionals and college students to use social media, mobile devices and the Internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence their future job choice, sometimes more than salary, according to Cisco’s 2011 Connected World Technology Report.

This and other findings highlighted in the second chapter of the 2011 Cisco Connected World Technology Report characterise the seriousness of the next-generation workforce’s expectation to work remotely with more flexibility in their choice of devices, indicating that traditional methods of attracting and retaining young employees may be less important as the ‘Millennial’ generation constitutes more of the workforce.

The study, which surveyed more than 2,800 college students and young professionals under the age of 30 in 14 countries, (mainly drawn from Brazil, Russia, India and China), was commissioned to assess the challenges that companies face as they strive to balance employee and business needs amid increasing network demands, mobility capabilities and security risks.

The study revealed that one in three college students and young employees (33 per cent) said that they would prioritize social media freedom, device flexibility, and work mobility over salary in accepting a job offer, indicating that the expectations and priorities of the next generation of the world’s workforce are not solely tied to money.

Mobile networking, device flexibility and the blending of personal and work lifestyles are key components of a work environment and culture that are increasingly important in determining which companies will land the next wave of industry talent.

About two of three college students (64 per cent) said they plan to ask about social media usage policies during job interviews, and one in four overall (24 per cent) said it will be a key factor in their decision to accept an offer.

Almost a third of the employees globally (31 per cent) believe their comfort level with social media and devices was a factor in their hiring – an indication that companies acknowledge the value Millennials provide in utilizing technology to help companies’ efficiency and competitive advantage.

For those employees who are prohibited from accessing corporate networks and applications remotely, the top reason among employees is corporate policies (48 per cent), including influence by corporate culture and resistance to enabling a more distributed communications culture.

Despite this, employees are expecting greater work flexibility. At least one in four employees (29 per cent) globally said the availability of remote access would influence their future career choices.

More than three of every four employees (77 per cent) have multiple devices, such as a laptop and a smartphone while one out of three employees globally (33 per cent) uses at least three devices for work.

About seven in 10 employees (68 per cent) believe their companies should allow them to access social media and personal sites with their work-issued devices because of the blending of work and personal communications in their daily lifestyle.

Three out of 10 students globally (29 per cent) feel that once they begin working, it will be the norm to be able to work remotely with a flexible schedule.

Currently, more than half of employees (57 per cent) can connect to their corporate network from some remote locations, but only one out four (28 per cent) can do so at anytime, from any location. Two in five (43 per cent) consider it a critical function of their job to be able to connect to the network from any location at any time.

Seven of 10 college students (70 per cent) believe it is unnecessary to be in the office regularly, with the exception of important meetings. The global figures were mirrored by the employee survey, with 69 per cent believing routine office attendance to be unnecessary.

This is a marked increase from the 2010 report, which showed that three of five (60 per cent) employees (of all ages) believed it was unnecessary to be confined to offices.

More than half of the college students and employees want to access corporate information over corporate networks using their home computers (63 per cent) and personal mobile devices (51 per cent). In the future, respondents expect to access corporate networks and applications on numerous non-company devices, such as car navigation screens, seatback screens on airplanes, and televisions.

The study was commissioned by Cisco and conducted by , a third-party market research firm based in the United States, to enable Cisco maintain its understanding of present-day challenges that companies face as they strive to address current and future employee and business needs amid increasing mobility capabilities, security risks, and technologies that can deliver applications and information more ubiquitously – from virtualized data centers and cloud computing to traditional wired and wireless networks.

The global study consisted of two surveys – one centring on college students, the other involving young professionals in their 20s. Each survey included 100 respondents from each of 14 countries, resulting in a survey pool of 2,800 respondents.