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by Senior Editor

Report: Social media, web access more important than pay to today’s workers

May 19, 20103 mins
Data and Information SecuritySecuritySocial Networking Apps

Research from Clearswift finds expectations of unrestricted access to social media and the Internet also bring up trust issues in the workplace

Most employees value trust, and the permission to use the Internet at work whenever they please, over compensation, according to a new report that examines how social media and the web are impacting the workplace.

The research, conducted by security firm Clearswift, surveyed over 1,600 managers and employees in USA, UK, Germany and Australia during January and February this year.

Also see Social media risks: The basics

The report, titled ‘Web 2.0 in the Workplace,’ found 79 percent of respondents said over and above job role and pay, the most important thing to them in a job included being trusted to manage their own time, and being trusted to use the Internet as they wish. Additionally, 62 percent of employees feel they should be able to access Web/social networking content from their work computer for personal reasons (compared to 51 percent of managers) in order to complete personal tasks (Read 4 tips for writing a great social media policy).

The report coins the term ‘Generation Standby,’ which refers to workers who never seem to fully switch off from work or home. “Generation Standby are so attuned to this way of working that even in these economically challenging times, one fifth (21 percent) would turn down a job that did not allow them to access social networking sites or personal email during work time,” Clearswift officials said in a release on the report.

The characteristic of this group is that they are regularly multi-tasking from work due to increased pressure to work longer hours, and regularly carrying out social and private tasks at work. The trend is most pronounced amongst 25—34 year olds, with 57 percent undertaking personal tasks such as checking social networks, email, and shopping online at work. Although 66 percent of all employees say they make up the time they spend using the Internet for personal reasons by working later or through lunch.

“Call it multi-tasking or life-splicing but increasingly, fuelled by advances in technology, employees are blurring the boundaries between home and work,” said Hilary Backwell, Clearswift’s global HR director. “What this report has shown is that ‘Generation Standby’ employees are now enjoying, and expecting, greater levels of flexibility and mobility than ever before—but this cultural shift raises new questions about trust in the workplace, the use of new technologies, the balance of power in the employer vs. employee relationship and levels of control that businesses now have over people and content.”

Jim Routh and Gary McGraw previously addressed this generation’s expectations in Lifestyle Hackers on