By Christopher Salute, SIOP Blogger
During my last post, we discussed the idea of students requesting Facebook interaction from their professors. I received a good amount of feedback regarding interacting with students outside of the classroom from readers and even friends and family who read the blog. I love the idea of using Yammer or LinkedIn for in-network social situations. And, I agree that it is a huge organizational challenge (work, school, or otherwise) when direct reports or students request social interaction you are not comfortable with. I’ve even spoken with colleagues who have asked students what their classroom expectations are. And, students are now expecting texts, Facebook messages, and other communications outside of the classroom.
The story about academic interaction, though, was simply an example to illustrate the new generation of students who will soon be entering the workforce. This new generation (those born between 1990 and 2010) was first introduced in early 2011 by Booz and Company in an article about their consumer preferences. Recently, it has been officially recognized by Nielsen as Generation C. It is the first generation of what we call “digital natives.” The “C” stands for connected and communicative.
My colleagues (Ryan Duffy, Carolyn Sweetapple) and I have been doing some research on this new group of employees since last Fall under the guidance of Dr. Comila Shahani-Denning. Unfortunately, one major limitation is that most of them have not yet entered the workforce. So we can only work with a small sample and make vague inferences from trends we’ve seen in Generation Y (those born between 1980 and 2000). The generational overlap gets confusing. But, what we can say is that Gen C will expect constant and immediate feedback at the workplace. They will try to make use of the technology around them, forgoing the traditional cubicle-style workplace for a home-based work environment.
We’ve got some ideas on how this technology will shape Generation C. Will they prefer a more flexible work schedule since they are constantly connected? Will their technical skills make them more trainable? Will their lack of formal communication make them less marketable? Or, are these technology preferences just one component of what makes up this generation as opposed to a trend that will alter employee selection and development as we know it?
The digital gauntlet has been thrown. What we learn from this new crop of students and employees will make for some interesting changes to the work landscape as we know it. We’ll be sure to keep you posted!