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Tech-savvy college hires bring integration, communication challenges to IT workplaces

Fred O'Connor | June 6, 2013
Training methods tailored to the latest generation of IT workers help ease the transition.

At Athenahealth, software development managers who have junior staff share their experiences with recently appointed managers, said Griesbach. The issues covered draw from actual situations and include topics like how to handle younger developers who don't like to arrive at the office before noon.

"We've been able to fold [them] into training so we can proactively address things," she said. "We've really given our managers a structure ... on how to manage these new hires."

At Bluewolf misunderstandings between younger and veteran employees don't necessarily stem from generational differences.

"Sometimes what is causing the gaps are really around education and knowledge," Sklar said.

An internal survey aimed at improving collaboration on social media showed that skills gaps aren't the exclusive domain of workers hired out of college. Some veteran employees wanted to learn how to use Twitter but were too embarrassed to reveal they didn't understand a hashtag's function, Sklar said.

Senior staff members from all departments were paired with younger staff who taught them about the social media platform. In addition to improved idea sharing among the firm's 10 offices, the tutorials allowed the younger workers to interact with staff from across the company and brought a variety of age groups together, Sklar said.

"I don't think people don't want to evolve," she said. "It's really about sitting down and having those conversations around how are we going to grow the business and collaborate across the different business lines."

Cullen echoed this point, noting that the best business option, not trendy technology, should be the central focus of all employees.

While younger workers "want to tell the whole world everything they're doing" via social media and senior staff are traditionally more private, "it's important that both sides understand there's nothing wrong with either," he said. They need to "get over that to understand we have a task at hand: the success of the business."

Linking IT to business is a concept that more interns at Verizon Enterprise Solutions have better understood over the last five years, said CIO Ajay Waghray. This helps Verizon better serve customers since 70 to 80 percent of those interns later join the company through its college hiring program.

"Sometimes technical people don't grasp the business context very quickly," he said. " But the past couple of years some of the interns ... they seem to connect the broader context quicker. Maybe it is their ability to do multiple things simultaneously, which has been in the mix of this generation. That means it can be leveraged to provide value."

Despite growing up with cutting-edge technologies, Verizon's younger workers are interested in legacy system support since the company presents those projects as opportunities to test skills.


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