Generation Y has had many descriptors placed upon them: digital natives, entitled, world-changers, ambitious, lazy, and impatient. These descriptors, the changing nature of the employment contract, and the lack of quality information about an organization prior to hire suggests that many companies may be in for trouble with the group that naturally shares online with breathtaking speed.
We’ve already seen examples of the damage that employees can do to a company brand using the Social Web. Remember the Domino’s Pizza YouTube prank
, or the Honda Product Manager promoting the design of their new vehicle on Facebook
without disclosing his affiliation with the company. As employees become more mobile, less loyal and better connected, the opportunity to exact revenge for real and imagined slights increases exponentially. Why does it have to be this way?
One could argue that the ability for current & former employees to quickly spread the word about their experiences throughout social networks is the problem. However, prior to social media, these people still shared their experiences with a circle of friends. Even though their concerns may not have reached millions on YouTube or been featured on the evening news, the damage to the brand was still real. The benefit of social media in this context is that companies can constantly monitor the Social Web to quickly learn about attacks on their employment brand. While awareness is helpful for damage control, I think there are deeper concerns which need to be addressed.
Among the reasons that employees are embracing free agency is because they don’t feel any loyalty from employers. From eroding benefits to increased hiring of temporary employers, companies aren’t giving employees confidence that they have their best interests in mind. In addition, because of the way recruiting is handled within most organizations; it is very difficult to get a good understanding of the company prior to interviewing or accepting an offer. This information asymmetry creates the potential for unfulfilled expectations with new employees. In those cases where expectations do not match reality, employees will either choose to tough it out or seek employment elsewhere. Depending on how they are treated during their time at the company will ultimately define the story they share with their network and potentially the world.
About the Author: Omowale Casselle is the co-founder and CEO of mySenSay, a social recruiting community that connects college students and corporations.