Study: Premium Placed on Workers With Emerging Media Skills

Human resources managers are willing to pay top dollar to attract new employees with emerging media skills, but they are less willing to provide training to bring current employees up to speed on new technologies, says a new study from Ball State University.

A survey of human resources executives at 229 firms across Indiana found that about 67 percent of respondents were willing to pay a higher salary of 1 to 4 percent to attract new employees with emerging media skills. Twenty-three percent were willing to pay 5 to 8 percent more for such new hires.

"Respondents indicate a willingness to pay higher wages to acquire and keep workers who have these skills," said Jennifer Bott, a marketing and management associate professor who co-authored "Emerging Media: Prevalence and Impact in the Workplace," a survey to determine emerging media's impact and cost in the workplace.  Co-authors included Ray Montagno, a management professor and associate dean for research and outreach for the Miller College of Business, and Judy Lane, associate director/editor of the Center for Business and Economic Research. While companies were willing to pay a premium for emerging media skills, 77 percent of respondents provide little or no training to current employees.

 "These technologies may be seen as quickly coming and going, which makes it difficult to have time to develop programs for effective and thorough training," Bott said. "The lack of training reflects the newness factor, and training is seen as a long-term commitment."

The study also found that 93 percent of respondents believe it is somewhat important to very important for employees to have emerging media skills.

 "We are an information-centered society with emerging media technologies becoming highly integrated into the workplace," Bott said. "At this point, businesses place a high value on employees who are comfortable in working with communication technologies that are rapidly changing."

Emerging media is the evolving use of technology and digital content to enhance work, play, and learning; to broaden access to information; and to enrich personal connection by eliminating the constraints of time and location.

In the study, emerging media technologies were defined as e-mail, mobile computing, podcasts, digital audio/media players, mobile communication devices, instant messaging, interactive Web pages and blogs.

"The data indicates that the respondents have a generally positive view of the impact of these technologies on their organizations because it made them more competitive," Bott said. "This positive impact may reflect a general belief that technological change is inevitable and has led to increased organizational productivity."

In examining the prevalence of emerging media and other communications technologies at participating corporations, the researchers found e-mail usage policies have been adopted by 88.6 percent of respondents, followed by Internet surfing policies at 78.9 percent, privacy issues at 67.4 percent and security concerns at 60.6 percent.

"Given the level of emerging media, it would be expected that organizations need policies and procedures to manage employee behavior relative to these technologies," Bott said. "But, some results are surprising. For example, even though more than 88 percent of firms have an e-mail policy, you would think it would be higher, considering the number of anecdotes about e-mail abuse."

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