You might think the world doesn’t need yet another survey about social networking and the generation gap. But wait! A recent survey actually has a twist on the well-worn topic. According to a Citrix Online survey, when it comes to workers, Generation X is more likely to use social networking for business than Gen Y.
Yeah, you read that right.
Workers 55 and older are more likely to use social media for work on a daily basis compared to younger workers. And Gen Y workers are less likely to use videoconferencing and web conferencing tools at work.
Although the survey doesn’t explain why this gap exists, a possibility is that older workers are in higher positions that require more interaction. Go back 25 years and think about an old-fashioned Rolodex. The older worker with the higher ranking was more likely to have a collection of important contacts than the younger worker. Connections can be more important when you’re schmoozing.
The survey, which looked at the behavior and attitudes of workers in several countries, also highlighted another generational difference: Gen Y just doesn’t care about meetings. Gen X cares more, but nobody really thinks they do much good.
- “Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient. Only 29 percent of Gen Y workers think meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45 percent of older [baby] boomers.”
- “Gen Y is least likely to pay attention in meetings and barely half (51 percent) believe it’s very important to do so in meetings to decide a course of action.”
Yet, in what seems like a contradiction, Americans have more meetings than any other surveyed country and they believe paying attention is important.
- “90 percent meet in person to communicate and build relationships, more than any other nationality.”
- “Of those, 51 percent meet daily, compared to a mere 31% of French.”
- “75 percent of Americans believe it’s very important to pay attention in meetings to decide on a course of action, compared to 50 percent of the French.”
So, if you’ve ever thought you have too many meetings, you do – compared to the rest of the world. Less than half of surveyed workers view meetings as efficient, but 85 percent of all workers are having them. Force of habit? Gluttons for punishment? Why, workers, are we doing this to ourselves?
And in another odd finding, 75 percent of Germans consider seeing the other attendees in the meeting important, but only 55 percent of Americans do. So Americans have the most in-person meetings of anyone, yet we don’t care that they’re in person.
Making sweeping assessments of any group is dangerous, especially when you’re looking at a survey. Yet, Americans’ attitudes toward meetings and the frequency with which we have them suggest that we’re stuck in a rut. If younger workers aren’t paying attention to meetings that few people consider effective, could the future workplace look much more different? Perhaps when Gen Y is in charge, meetings will be rare and more effective. Although this survey finds older workers using social media to do business, younger workers — who are the ones to usher in the era of Facebook — might rely on technology for business interaction.
What do you make of this survey? Is American begrudgingly married to meetings? Do older workers really use social networking for business more than younger workers? Do you think the workplace of the future will reflect these results?