The Future Workforce: Gen Y Has Arrived: The Federal Government Needs to Embrace Web 2.0 to Attract and Retain Its Next Generation of Workers

By Childs, Robert D.; Gingrich, Gerry et al. | The Public Manager, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

The Future Workforce: Gen Y Has Arrived: The Federal Government Needs to Embrace Web 2.0 to Attract and Retain Its Next Generation of Workers


Childs, Robert D., Gingrich, Gerry, Piller, Michael, The Public Manager


Steve Monforto finally caught the ball! After attending Phillies' games since he was three years old, he caught the ball on September 15, 2009. He promptly gave the ball to his young daughter, Emily, who was sitting next to him in the stands, and Emily immediately threw it back to the infield. Montforto, at first startled and caught off guard, hugged her for doing the "right thing" by returning the ball to its owners.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

All of this was caught on video, which immediately began to go viral on YouTube. Fans loved the endearing and funny video, and it moved rapidly through cyberspace. But when Major League Baseball (MLB) lawyers called to tell YouTube that the video was proprietary, the video was promptly pulled from the site.

At a time of declining revenues for MLB, a video that goes viral on YouTube is an unexpected largess--one that MLB, with its old, stove-piped mindset, failed to recognize. Instead, MLB decided to make fans visit its site and its site only, thus limiting the number of times that the video of Monforto and his daughter would be viewed and reducing MLB's free advertising and goodwill exponentially.

Going Viral

Going viral can be a great thing for an organization's products and services. In the current Web 2.0 environment, favorable electronic communications that go viral give a big boost to the featured organization. So, what would your organization do in circumstances similar to those of MLB?

Consider a video that captures hurricane victims being rescued by the Coast Guard or firefighters subduing a blaze in California. Typically, the government cannot compel anyone to take down an unclassified posting. However, does your agency recognize the potential power of viral postings? Does it encourage its employees to create communications that might go viral?

Generation Y, also called the Millennial Generation, understands the importance of going viral. Bound by a hunger for IT, especially social media and other Web 2.0 technologies, Gen Yers spend enormous amounts of time, both professional and personal, communicating electronically. Indeed, 96 percent of them belong to social networks.

Gen Yers write blogs that describe their work experiences and send instant messages to cut through the fog of information overload and reach out in real time. They use Twitter to update their friends anywhere, anytime and Facebook and MySpace to share more detailed information supported by pictures and videos.

For example, the viral spread of blogs, "tweets," and posts in the days following the recent Iranian presidential election and the impact of these Web 2.0 technologies on international relations was unprecedented. The protesters were eager to have their electronic communications spread globally, and they knew exactly how to do it.

Consider what a viral video could do for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or for its parent organization, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Each of these agencies has a strong customer-focused mission, and yet the general public is not well educated about their day-to-day activities.

Given research, which claims that 60 percent of learning is visual, videos depicting scientists engaging in the prevention of a pandemic or searching for a cure for cancer would not only educate the public and inform the healthcare debate, they would engage citizens' appreciation of agencies that administer such programs--and of government in general.

Beta Wagon

Gen Yers have arrived: They are your 20-something workers. What else do they get that your organization might use? Gen Y understands the importance of jumping on the "beta wagon."

The world today is dynamic and constantly changing, and strategy and tactics cannot be perfected in the way that they could throughout the 20th century. Industrial age organizations and their environments were much more stable than current organizations. …

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