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Mar 15, 2010

Employing the Net Generation

By Natalie Boike

At the SHARE Technology Conference in Seattle, Don Tapscott, author of “Grown Up Digital”  spoke of the impact of the “Net” Generation on the future. By his own definition, the Net Generation is composed of people, younger than 30 years old, who are “bathed in bits.” “They aren’t afraid of technology, just like you aren’t afraid of the refrigeration,” he explained to the audience.

Tapscott says this generation learns, plays and communicates differently than previous generations. Additionally, he believes the way members of this generation work is changing talent, collaboration and management for the better. He says the Net Generation doesn’t distinguish between networking, collaborating, working and having fun.

“The current employment-management style is to recruit employees, put them in a cube, treat them like Dilbert and take away their tools [e.g. Facebook, wikipedia and other online resources,” Tapscott says. The Net Generation, however, thrives on collaboration and constant performance feedback and has the ability to multitask more than older generations. He suggests, instead of banning social media from the workplace, companies can leverage those tools to achieve new business insight and improve customer satisfaction, citing Best Buy’s BSN (Blue Shirt Nation) as an example. Concerns with social media and other Net Generation tools can be easily mitigated with technology, Tapscott says.

As a member of the Net Generation, Taspcott’s message is exciting to think about. Many business processes continue simply because that’s the way things have always been done. What if, as Tapscott suggests, work could be fun? Does your company employ anyone who could be classified as a Net Generation member? How do they fit within your existing work structure? Are they shaking things up for the better?

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