One in five choose relaxed IT policies over money

One in five Generation Y workers would take a lower salary in return for unrestricted computer usage in the enterprise, according to a national survey from IT World Canada and Harris/Decima.

In the final pages of the report: Freedom To Compute: The Empowerment of Generation Y, individuals between the ages of 18 and 29 indicated that “open computing” could be an important consideration for companies that cannot compete as aggressively on salaries when they field star candidates.

“Encouraging open computing that allows employees to fully utilize their skills may be a way of equalizing the playing field for talent,” the report says. “(It) allows this demographic group to be most effective, especially in business.”

The report also refers to proactive computing, which Harris/Decima vice-president Lise Dellazizzo said refers to organizations that promotes the cross-pollination of skills and business ss acumen across employees and hierarchies.

“This company is confident in its abilities to excel and aspire to market leadership regardless of their current ranking in the industry. This notion of confidence is important and pervasive,” she said. “It’s expressed most clearly at the leadership level, where senior managers are not afraid to encourage great talent and surround themselves with people who may rival them in their potential to excel – because they realize that to drive top performance they must truly encourage and exploit talent.”

Matt Elliot, a 25-year-old based in Toronto who runs a blog called, said many companies simply underestimate the value of social networking applications and other tools that younger employees want to bring into the enterprise.

“There’s a lot more potential with applications like Twitter, just in terms of being able to connect to people who are using your product,” he said. “That’s information can be incredibly valuable. In a lot of industries Facebook has a huge knowledge base that could be passed along.”

According to the report, the percentage of those willing to trade salary dollars over freedom to compute will only increase over time. That doesn’t mean companies should leave their networks open to vulnerabilities and misuse, however.

“Even forward-thinking companies realize that parameters must be put into place to ensure the safety and solvency of the company,” Dellazizzo said. “The key is to think these policies through carefully, to collaborate with other industry leaders when formulating policies and to establish standards that are reasonable and future-looking.”

Harris/Decima and IT World Canada presented the survey results to a group of Canadian CIOs and CEOs, who differed widely in their reactions.

“We found that CIOs were not forthcoming in proposing remedial actions to address certain issues such as computing restrictions,” the report said. “There was some concern with CEOs over what they perceive as a struggle to maintain the status quo in the IT ranks at the expense of innovation and change, because this might threaten the traditional domain of today’s CIO.”

Dellazizzo suggested that CIOs had better get used to some changes.

“CIOs need to better understand how they are perceived by business leaders and recognize that there is a gap in what they think is expected of them and what CEOs actually expect from them,” she said. “(Gen Y workers) are independent, more willing to take risks and naturally inclined to almost anything technology based. They are hungry for information, highly mobile and globally connected. It is in CIOs’ best interest to understand that these employees are their clients.”

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