The new report examines the changing behaviours and attitudes of “the BETAs” – the first cohort of digital natives (21 to 40 year-olds) to assume positions of seniority in business, at a time of dislocation. The BETAs form the largest group of purchasers and decision-makers in the global workforce. Around two-thirds globally are the ultimate decision maker for their company or the final decision maker for their department/team when making purchases.
Research findings from 34,000 professionals, across 40 sectors, in 10 markets characterises the BETA population as individuals that have: Blurred work-life boundaries, an Evolving mindset, are Tech natives but are time poor, and have raised levels of Activism.
B – Blurred boundaries: clocking in the most overtime against all professionals and no work-life balance
The loss of a dedicated workspace due to the pandemic is most intense on the BETA audience. They are most likely to be living in shared households or with their parents, and are most likely to report not working in a home office. Almost 1 in 5 do not have a dedicated space to work, compared to just over 1 in 10 among other business professionals.
8 in 10 business professionals globally and in the UK say they are regularly working late or putting in overtime; within this both globally and in the UK, about 1 in 10 say they “always” work late, and 15% are “always” working overtime. However, these behaviors manifest most strongly among BETAs; they are 8 points ahead of other professionals for regularly working late. They also have a lead of 13 points for regularly working overtime, despite working in an uncomfortable space.
The BETAs are of the “always on” smartphone generation; they are the most likely to use personal smartphones for work. Over half globally do this, compared to 40% of 41-50s and about a third of 51-64s. Globally BETAs estimate spending 3.5 hours compared to 2.5 hours in the UK on their mobiles each day (peaking globally at 4 hours and 3 hours in the UK among 21-30s). Other professionals globally report spending just under 2 hours (1 hour in the UK) on these devices, dipping to 1 hour and 20 minutes among 51-64s. 2020 is the first year that smartphones have moved to the top of the table for workplace devices, due to the BETAs, following a 6-point year-on-year drop on desktops. Smartphones are the device they mostly work on, unlike other age groups who prioritize laptop or desktop.
Jason Mander, Chief Research Officer, GWI comments: “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 behaviour with heightened implications, especially for the BETA working in her/his bedroom in a shared apartment.”
E – Evolving mindset: desire to learn to progress in their working lives
BETAs place importance on professional development through self-improvement and self-evolution. The majority of BETAs, globally (80%) and in the UK (65%) are participating in online learning to learn/improve skills, increase their knowledge, or gain qualifications. 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.
BETA’s in the UK are over 50% more likely than other business professionals to say that career progression is good/excellent in their company.
In light of the pandemic, LinkedIn Learning made over 600 LinkedIn Learning courses free across seven languages to help members build skills for in-demand jobs like sales representative, graphic designer and digital marketer, and hone fundamental soft skills needed to navigate the challenging work environments many are currently facing.
Across all professionals, 3x the amount of LinkedIn Learning content was watched in August 2020 than they did a year ago. Additional LinkedIn Learning data highlights that 83% of online learning happens during the work week.
T – Tech natives: smartphones keep BETAs connected and on track when time poor and in demand
Compared to other professionals, BETAs have more emails, meetings and apps. On a typical workday, they will receive 32 emails and at least 3 meetings to attend. Throughout 2020 they will handle an average of almost 8,500 emails and close to 800 meetings.
The BETAs are more likely than other cohorts to do 14 out of 35 activities noted in the study exclusively on their smartphone, compared to just 8 amongst older working professionals.
With more time on devices, comes more anxiety; 3 in 4 BETAs say they are constantly connected online, 6 in 10 feel it’s critical to be contactable at all times, and a third worry they spend too much time on their phones. In all cases, they outscore other cohorts.
A – Raised on Activism: behaviors and actions with purpose strike a cord
Exploring responses to today’s issues, with particular reference to the Black Lives Matter movement, 83% of BETA professionals want to see companies take at least one brand-action such as review hiring policies, ensure diversity in leadership, support local initiatives and make charitable donations.
In the U.S. and UK, 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.
Ty Heath, The B2B Institute at LinkedIn concludes: “2020 is a year of great change in B2B. The pandemic is forcing the reinvention of how marketing and sales work with greater digitisation 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 behaviours will persist over time. For example their use of the mobile phone will be as critical to the future of B2B as the invention of the telephone and typewriter to companies one hundred years ago. Those companies who understand their attitudes and behaviours will create substantial opportunities for business growth.”
Jason Mander, Chief Research Officer, GWI concludes: “Many of the BETAs come from the Millennial cohort but less attention has been given to their impact in business, despite the fact they form the biggest group of purchasers and decision-makers. If there’s ever been a good time to get to know how people actually think and feel, it’s now. Your audience might not be who you think. We also expect the trends we’ve identified to develop further as new employees enter the workforce; businesses need an in-depth understanding of this audience to prepare for the future.”