MT Expert's Ten Top Tips: Deal with tech-savvy graduates

How to prove you're down with the kids by getting to grips with social media...

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Last Updated: 03 Nov 2010

Graduates may be cheap, but they come with a unique set of challenges. Tech-savvy, addicted to Facebook and used to doing most of their research online, this group are used to accessing whatever they need, whenever they want it – regardless of where they are. You may be sceptical about the business benefits of social media, but shying away from the latest tools and technology in favour of traditional media will close your doors to tomorrow’s top talent. MT asked Alastair Mitchell, co-founder and CEO of Huddle, for his top tips on working with generation Y.
 
1. Don’t be scared
A lot of organisations are waking up to the benefits of social media – if you’re not, you could be missing out on a chance to gain competitive advantage. While you may think your existing technology is performing perfectly well, have you just grown so familiar with it that the thought of changing to something new is simply too daunting?

2. Explore the cloud
Cloud-based services are anything based online – like Gmail or Huddle - which are available to anyone with an internet connection. They allow you to embrace the flexibility and anywhere/anytime access that graduates are used to. With cloud-based email and word processors, collaboration tools and instant messaging applications, staff can work from home or on the move with mobile devices.

3. Don't worry about letting down your (IT) guard
By preventing your employees from accessing social media, you’re effectively saying you don’t trust them. For digitally-savvy graduates, this is massively frustrating. With the correct policies and security measures in place, you can place some control back into the hands of your employees and allow them to use social media tools to communicate and work more efficiently.

4. Ask whether your employees are actually working together
Managing a team of people can be frustrating: communicating with different departments, partners and customers is painful when getting people together for a face-to-face meeting involves a constant barrage of emails and phone calls. Try using social technologies, such as Facebook and Skype. Have a look at what’s available: it could just help you engage your workforce and boost staff productivity.

5. Become the student
While the graduates in your business may be new to the world of full-time employment, they are well-versed when it comes to social media tools. Be prepared to listen to their suggestions on new technology that could improve the way your team works. This generation may be able to teach you and the rest of your workforce about new tools that could make your staff more productive and improve their working lives.

6. Read reviews
There are plenty of blogs that provide reviews on the latest online tools for business, so you don’t have to feel like you’re venturing into the great unknown clueless. TechCrunch, Mashable and ReadWriteWeb are just some of the places you can go for thorough and honest reviews. Learning about new technology and what today’s graduates are using will give you far better insight into the next wave of workers marching through your doors.

7. Try before you buy
Free or trial versions are offered by many web-based services, so you don’t have to take the plunge and sign-off the purchase order until you’re convinced that the technology is right for your business, so why not give them a go?

8. Use social media on the sly
Chances are even if you’ve banned it in the office, your employees are using social media to help them do their job more effectively. Why not encourage staff to share their thoughts about useful technology they’ve discovered? And don’t forget phones – downloading applications to their phones might have given your employees some insight into apps that would be useful in their business lives.

9. Create an online identity for your business
Today’s graduates probably have a Facebook profile, a Twitter account and a blog. Before they come in for an interview, you’ll probably search for them, and an online identity will appear before your eyes. But how does your business look to them? Do you look like the kind of company they’d want to work for? Start thinking about how social media can be used to build your business’ profile in order to attract tomorrow’s talented candidates.

10. Be more agile
The new wave of workers is used to flexibility and only paying for the services and applications it actually uses. Why not follow in their footsteps and start looking at software as a service (SaaS) pricing models? Rather than investing a large amount of money up-front for new technology, SaaS is provided on a subscription basis so you know exactly what you’re paying per month and you aren’t locked into a lengthy contract.

- Alistair Mitchell is the co-founder of Huddle, the secure online space for people to connect, share and work together. Got any more tips on dealing with the younger generation? Add them below.

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