Prospective employers looking to recruit students need to be aware of their technology preferences and provide the tools and equipment they are accustomed to using in their personal lives, according to a study by Accenture.
In its report, "Millennials at the Gates," management consultancy Accenture studied the computing habits of 400 U.S. 14-27-year-olds and discovered that this millennial generation has strong feelings about technology that is being overlooked by employers.
"If employers don’t support their preferred technologies, Millennials are likely to use them anyway – regardless of corporate policy," the report concluded.
More than half (52 percent) of the respondents said state-of-the-art technology was an important consideration in selecting an employer. This figure rose with age, to the point where 67 percent of the college-age respondents said an organization's technology use was an important factor when choosing where to work.
Further findings from the survey highlighted the discrepancies between young workers' expectations and the technology that employers provided:
- More than 20 percent of the respondents stated that employer-provided technologies did not meet expectations; respondents were particularly dissatisfied with employer-provided virtual communities (39 percent) and online collaboration tools (30 percent).
- In the mid-Millennial age group (ages 18 to 22), 32 percent said they expected to use the computer of their choice and 34 percent said they wanted to access their preferred applications.
- Where employers' systems were not up to snuff, 39 percent of mid-Millennials used their own mobile phones, 28 percent bypassed company policies to visit social networking sites, and 27 percent used unsanctioned instant messaging services. Another 19 percent used non-supported open-source technology software and 12 percent accessed online applications.
- If software was not available at work, the mid-Millennial group showed few qualms about downloading non-standard technology from free public Web sites outside of work. Three-quarters of this group accessed online collaborative tools and 71 percent used online applications from free public Web sites.
Accenture's millennial generation study poses some big challenges for IT mangers. Across all age groups, 40 percent of respondents said their employers had detailed policies related to posting information on public Web sites and 17 percent said there was no such policy. Another 31 percent didn't know if their company had such a policy; 6 percent said their company's policy was too complex to understand, and 6 percent said they would post work or client information on public sites regardless of any policy.
Accenture suggested employers undertake proactive reviews of their IT policies and consult with Millennial members of their team to develop a better understanding of emerging technologies and how they might be used to benefit the organization.
"In order to acquire and retain the best talent, organizations must understand the technologies that the new workforce expects and then find a way to support their employees without compromising enterprise security," said Gary Curtis, Accenture Technology global managing director.