Millennials Driving Workplace Social Media

The newly released ASTD/i4cp research report, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, found that social media technologies are still gaining traction in the workplace relative to increases in personal usage. For example, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they used social networks, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, either often or all the time in their personal lives, while only 20% said they did so for work-related learning. Results show that adoption of social media technologies in many organizations is not as widespread yet because it hasn’t been fully integrated and formalized within the workplace. The trend, however, is that employers are increasingly figuring out how to leverage social media within their organization so as not to fall behind as both an employer of choice and as a learning organization.
Although many employees have embraced shared workspaces – such as Google Docs and SharePoint – and various social networks, it doesn’t mean that all social media technologies have become mainstream. Some technologies, such as social bookmarking, virtual worlds and augmented realities, have yet to gain the same kind of broad-based popularity in either the workplace or in personal use. Additionally, generational differences observed in the survey responses show that younger generations (Millennials) were more likely to use the majority of technologies more often than older generations (Baby Boomers). The only exceptions to this rule were podcasts and virtual worlds.
Although self-reported usage of social media for on-the-job learning was relatively low, there are many signs that its rise is imminent. More than 80% of respondents said use of social media for learning within their organization would increase over the next three years, a good indication that platforms are being studied and plans are being implemented. Additionally, a growing proportion of the future workforce will be from the Millennial generation (born after 1981), who use social media technologies more than Generation Xers and Baby Boomers both at home and at work. It makes sense that usage for learning will increase within the workplace as this younger generation takes a more prominent role.
The ASTD/i4cp Rise of Social Media report explores the business case for supporting and using social media technologies from a learner’s point of view. This exclusive perspective provides business leaders with insight for a new strategic priority: to leverage the power of social media tools in order to maximize learning and increase the performance of the entire workforce. While most organizations have yet to fully embrace the use of social media in the workplace, there is a strong belief among the professionals surveyed that adoption of social media technologies will continue to grow in the coming years. Hence, it is critical for business leaders to prepare for the fundamental shift in habits and expectations that the surging Millennial generation will bring to the workplace, as computers and collaborative technologies are an extension of who they are. This report includes valuable results and recommendations to help executives make strategic decisions that can positively affect organizational goals and growth.
ASTD Members can purchase a discounted copy of this report from the ASTD store.
Share your organizations triumphs and challenges as they relate to introducing social media technologies into your workplace. How do you think these new and varied communication tools will impact the workforce learning environment?