Do You Know Your Generations?

Today's workforce is a multi-generational environment, but how familiar are you with the landscape and its inhabitants?

Throughout this year, CompTIA has been building a focus on digital organizations. The name implies new uses of technology, and the rise of these organizations is certainly tied to the rising adoption of cloud systems and mobile devices. However, technology is only the first piece of the puzzle. Cloud and mobility are driving a new wave of IT, mostly because they change the behavior of companies and employees.

At a corporate level, companies are dealing with changes to process and workflow while also figuring out how to drive technology decisions. At the employee level, there are multiple generations blending in the workforce, each with their own business approach and technical ability. This blending is the focus of CompTIA’s latest study, Managing the Multigenerational Workforce, which looks at Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millennials’ differing stereotypes, priorities and preferences.

As part of the study’s development, the CompTIA research team built this short quiz to gauge how well you know the different generations. Go ahead and give it a shot. I’ll wait right here while you finish...

So how’d you do? You might have discovered that for all of the ink that’s been spilled describing how different the generations are, many stereotypes aren’t actually accepted universally. Instead, the different segments of the workforce are discovering that each group certainly has strengths and weaknesses, but the overall blend produces a diverse set of views that creates a unique situation.

That situation is full of opportunity for the companies ready to take advantage of it. For example, the study shows that workers are evaluating companies on their technical capabilities as they consider where to work. This grows over time—14 percent of Baby Boomers say that corporate technology use is a significant factor in employment decisions, 21 percent of Gen X feels the same, followed by 34 percent of Millennials. Building a strong technology strategy is important for organizational success and growth, but also for recruitment and retention.

One primary use of technology is communications. Here, consumer preferences are beginning to weigh in on corporate behavior, though the transition is taking place slowly. Email remains the dominant platform for communication, with Microsoft Outlook regularly used by 72 percent of the population and Gmail regularly used by 41 percent. Instant messaging and video chat are gaining ground, as seen by increased use of applications such as Skype (30 percent) and Microsoft Lync (22 percent). Other tools that incorporate mobility and social aspects to a greater extent are in the early stages of adoption, including Chatter (7 percent), Yammer (6 percent) and Slack (4 percent).

One final dynamic that is shifting is telecommuting. Thanks to mobile technology and widely available Internet access, workers have more potential for productivity outside of a traditional office environment. There is a desire for flexible work arrangements, but that also doesn’t mean that employees want to abandon the office altogether. Only 21 percent of the total population wants to be in the office for two days or fewer. Another 44 percent prefer one or two days at home, while 35 percent said they were happy to spend five days in the office. Telecommuting is less popular among Baby Boomers, but Gen X and Millennials both hold similar viewpoints, with both expecting telecommuting as a standard benefit. 

Solving the workforce equation is a challenge for many companies. Those firms that are making progress on solutions are finding benefits from including a diverse set of voices that help them incorporate new technology, drive objectives, and meet new customer demands. For more detail on the different views of the generations and the ways that companies should prepare themselves for digital transformation, check out the full report in our Insight and Tools section.

Seth Robinson is CompTIA’s senior director of technology analysis.



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