Working with "Digital Natives"

Digital Natives (DN) are between the ages of 18 and 25 years old and are hyperconnected everywhere, everyday. Understanding the challenges associated with this younger generation of digitally connected employees is the key to successfully recruiting and integrating DNs.


The Digital Culture Observatory, created as a part of the Orange Digital Natives Grenoble Ecole de Management Chair, published its third report, "Paradoxes and Tensions: What Digital Natives Share with Us (and Observe) about Their Habits" and shares with us its conclusions on recruiting this new generation.

1. A collaborative generation

The 18-25 year age group appreciates an open and collaborative work environment. This fact even led the Digital Culture Observatory to co-design the study with the help of Digital Natives in order to meet their desire for a more active role than that of simple test subjects.

2. Hyperconnected? YES. Particularly skilled at multitasking? NO

Digital connectedness is a constant part of a DN's day. A fact that is not put on hold even during classes. "We wanted to compare the results of connected students to those not connected during classes. The result of a quiz given after the class demonstrated that concentration-levels by computer-users were significantly lower than non-connected students. There was a 30 point difference between the two groups." highlights Benoît Meyronin, a professor at Grenoble Ecole de Management and the previous head of the Orange Digital Natives committee. DNs do not escape the inefficiency of trying to multitask all the time.

3. A challenge for management

DNs will force companies to rethink their management practices. First of all because they clamor for horizontal management and greater collaborative work. And second because they wish to understand why they are doing something before fully committing to it. In addition, according to the report, it would appear that it's quite difficult for DNs to put their digital habits on pause during work hours. This dependence will challenge company policies that forbid external digital services and encourage internal media or social networks.

4. Remember skills come first

"Companies have to forget their assumptions about Digital Natives' skills." warns Benoît Meyronin. Most students are not aware of what is at stake in this digital revolution and its impact on companies. As a result, recruiters should not focus just on age, but rather on skills when looking to recruit a "digital" profile. "However, it's clear that this generation will commit one hundred percent to its work when given a clear vision and future prospects."