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Whoever said recession is the mother of invention was right. Or, they would have been, had anyone ever said that.

That’s because the latest recession to hit the economy of the United States has left scars on the survivors. The 2008 recession’s depth and reach is still being felt directly by some of the people who were laid-off and have yet to find jobs.

But there’s another group that has been deeply affected by the recession. That is younger workers who entered the workforce over the past 10 or 15 years and have seen that the old-business model can’t be trusted. They are looking at jobs in a different manner than their predecessors changing the dynamics of the workplace.

And the sheer size of the younger generation and their changing expectations will force employers to take note. A survey of employers and workers last year by Spherion Staffing Services of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., testifies to that.

“The last few years have dramatically changed the mindset of the overall workforce,” says Spherion’s Sandy Mazur, whose company surveyed 225 human resource managers and more than 2,000 workers. She says the lessons younger workers learned during the lengthy recession are likely to be permanently engrained into their consciousness.

The survey finds that jobseekers today are concerned with an employer’s online reputation and they expect a clear mission to be defined by their employers. These are significant changes to the way most people have previously looked at work.

Seventy percent of workers who said their company has a clear mission and commitment to that said they are likely to stay with that employer for the next five years. Yet, only 46 percent who work for companies without a clear mission expect to stay on the job. When there is a lack of clarity to the mission, twice as many workers said they will look for jobs over the next 12 months.

At the same time, 47 percent of jobseekers said a company’s online reputation is as important as the offer they are given by that potential employer. Only 27 percent of employers believe their online reputation matters, a serious disconnect for companies looking to attract quality employees.

Yet, the survey’s findings seem to be saying that employers don’t share the feelings of their workers. Only six percent of companies use social media to motivate and retain existing workers, down from 20 percent two years ago, while only 28 percent use social media in recruiting, a drop-off of 16 percent from two years earlier.

Mazur says companies will need to make sure they have strong online reputations in order to attract the talent they want, engage and satisfy their workers in the years ahead.

“Decisions — including whether people want to work for your organization, want to stay with your organization, want to sing your praises socially or not — are all highly dependent on your ability to be socially engaged and socially adept.”

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