"They're taking matters into their own hands to extend out from their peer group," said Roberts. "These tools enable them to go get information quickly and then act on their own."
Roberts noted that Generation Y workers are entering the corporate world with a very different digital background than even recent predecessors and thus have a whole new set of expectations.
Since Gen Y grew up using the Internet to share information on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, they expect to use social-based software on the job to connect with anyone in the company, whether it's a member of a project team or a senior executive six rungs up the corporate ladder.
"We have to recognize that they're born of a different generation. Some of these attributes shouldn't be squashed," said Roberts. "Social tools are ingrained in what they do. They expect to feel and work like they are part of a corporate community. Enterprise 2.0 tools help do that."
While empowered employees can be more productive, some more old-fashioned executives are giving this trend some real pushback.
Those managers, said Roberts, believe that the new employees don't seem to "know their place" or are "overstepping" when they seek to communicate ideas directly to top management.
Such executives aren't yet collaboration-ready, and they will need help to get over their fears so their companies can open up the social spigot to more productivity and business flexibility.
To ensure that the process can move smoothly, companies should come up with a plan before deploying social networking tools, Roberts suggested.
"They need to understand what a collaborative organization really looks like. They need to give an appropriate amount of resources and attention to changing the way they were doing things in the past," she added.
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