LinkedIn B2B Institute, GWI Examine Pandemic’s Impact on Knowledge Workers 21 Through 40

They define ‘BETAs’ as the first cohort of digital natives to become purchasers and decision-makers

On a typical workday, BETAs will receive 32 emails and be asked to attend at least three meetings Prostock-Studio/iStock

LinkedIn’s B2B Institute teamed up with target audience company GlobalWebIndex on “Work in BETA: The Rising B2B Decision Maker,” a new study of 17,000 knowledge workers between the ages of 21 and 40, in 10 markets, and their changing behaviors and attitudes in a world altered by Covid-19.

The two parties named the study group the BETAs, saying they are the first cohort of digital natives to assume positions of seniority and become purchasers and decision-makers in the global workforce, with roughly two-thirds of them serving as the ultimate decision maker for their company or the final decision maker for their department or team when making purchases.

They wrote, “The group has been named the BETAs; as the line between their life and work is ’Blurred’; they have ‘Evolving’ expectations that formal structures will be supplanted by development opportunities for the individual; their dexterity with ‘Technology’ will give them an advantage as work styles involve; and they will take their ‘Activism’ to work and use it as a filter to judge employers, colleagues, customers and suppliers.”

Key findings included:

  • The loss of dedicated workspaces due to the pandemic is most intense on this group, who are most likely to live in shared households or with their parents, and not out of a home office. Nearly one out of five do not have a dedicated space to work, compared with just over one out of 10 for other business professionals.
  • Eight out of 10 business professionals worldwide are regularly working late or putting in overtime, while one out of 10 said they always work late and 15% said they always work overtime. The BETAs group is eight points ahead of other professionals in terms of regularly working late and 13 points in regularly working overtime.
  • More than one-half of BETAs use personal smartphones for work, versus 40% of those aged 41 through 50 and roughly one-third of those between 51 and 64.
  • BETAs worldwide spent 3.5 hours per day on their smartphones, while other professionals globally spend just under two hours daily, dropping to one hour and 20 minutes for the 51-through-64 group. The two parties wrote, “Smartphones are the device they mostly work on, unlike other age groups who prioritize laptop or desktop.”
  • BETAs place importance on professional development through self-improvement and self-evolution, with 80% worldwide participating in online learning to learn or improve skills, increase knowledge or gain qualifications. LinkedIn B2B Institute and GWI wrote, “In turn, they are most likely to expect promotions, and globally. they place a higher-than-average premium on job satisfaction—despite the impact of the pandemic on businesses and job losses.”
  • On a typical workday, BETAs will receive 32 emails and be asked to attend at least three meetings. Throughout 2020, they will handle an average of nearly 8,500 emails and almost 800 meetings.
  • Three out of four BETAs say they are constantly connected online, while six out of 10 believe it is critical to be contactable at all times and one-third worry about spending too much time on their phones.
  • 83% of BETAs want to see companies take at least one action related to the Black Lives Matter movement, such as reviewing hiring policies, ensuring diversity in leadership, supporting local initiatives and making charitable donations. LinkedIn B2B Institute and GWI wrote, “In the U.S. and U.K., using social media to support diversity is one of the lowest-scoring options among BETAs. This reflects a concern among some that only using this channel to demonstrate support could be superficial or too performative. Instead, BETAs in these markets prioritize internal reflection and change—they expect brands and employers to reflect their values, through action.”

B2B Institute director of market engagement Ty Heath said in a statement, “2020 is a year of great change in business-to-business. The pandemic is forcing the reinvention of how marketing and sales work with greater digitization and focus on distributed business. The group we are calling the BETAs, the next cohort of business decision makers, are, as digital natives, a driving force of these changes and key to understanding which business behaviors will persist over time. For example, their use of the mobile phone will be as critical to the future of b-to-b as the invention of the telephone and typewriter to companies 100 years ago. Those companies that understand their attitudes and behaviors will create substantial opportunities for business growth.”

GWI chief research officer Jason Mander added, “Like never before, work-life boundaries instantly became harder to distinguish and maintain. Crucially, working from home is not a democratized experience; it does not take the same form for every worker, and an individual’s domestic situation is key to this. Those with a home office find it easier to switch off at the end of the day, feel better equipped to separate home life from work and are less concerned about the impact that home working can have on mental health. The need or desire to work extra hours is a long-established issue for business professionals, but in 2020—when so many workers are working remotely for an extended period of time—it’s a behavior with heightened implications, especially for the BETA working in her/his bedroom in a shared apartment.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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