Jay Jamrog and Elliott Masie on Generation Y in the Workplace

Jay Jamrog, i4cp's Senior Vice President of Research, spoke at Elliott Masie's Learning 2008 conference in Orlando, FL last month, touching on Generation Y and how best to "deal" with them in the workplace. There are many differences between Next Gen (Generation Y and Millennials) and other generations, specifically in how they approach manager relationships, employee diversity and technology.

Watch a video that shows an exchange between Jay and Elliott Masie, who in addition to running The MASIE Center is also an i4cp board member. Alternatively, you can read a transcription of the discussion:

Elliott Masie: Jay, as you know and I know, you're quoted in lots of major newspapers and magazines talking about Next Gen. Is this a major issue and what do [companies] face with this?

Jay Jamrog: Oh, the bigger thing with Next Gen, if we go through a prolonged war for talent, is they're going to have lots of choices and the best of them are going to have choices beyond your company, so the ability to recruit, retain and engage is going to get harder. Now, that's not to say they fit a stereotypical way of thinking. They're a very diverse group, but, just understanding what makes them tick … their values, attitudes and behaviors can help companies better recruit, retain and engage.

Elliott Masie: And do you think that – and I know organizations know the phrase, "We have to do something for the Next Gen" – but do they know what that means, and how to operationalize that?

Jay Jamrog: I think they're just learning. The next gen is just coming in now – they're called Gen Y or Millennials – [companies are] just learning. Some companies are doing some phenomenal things, some companies are just catching up and some will be laggards.

At this point, a montage video of Generation Y employees is played, revealing the ways they think and how they want to be treated in the workplace.

Jay Jamrog: This video is titled, "Awesome" and is by Quality Media Resources. Did I get that right? Good.

Elliott Masie: And Jay, how does that operationalize? So when you're dealing with CEOs and boards and senior directors of HR, if you had to summarize in four or five points, what should they be doing today to make their workplaces appropriate and effective for this next generation of worker.

Jay Jamrog: There are a few good points.

One is [that] the better companies are looking at their supervisors and leaders to develop more relationship building with people. It's much more relationship building. They want supervisors who are coaches, teachers or mentors, somebody who will invest time and energy, especially [in] the best and the brightest. So with leadership, it's beyond competencies and decision making, which is still very important, but they're looking at behaviors of leaders today. That's one.

Two is diversity. This is a very diverse population. It's only about 54% white. It's the fastest growing generation of Hispanics and interracial kids. And so the best and the brightest are looking to go into diverse environments. They are very comfortable there.

The third is technology. And believe me, if you don't have the latest technology, you're going to be considered a dinosaur. And that means Web 2.0 and all the other stuff. You've got to have the buzzers and whistles sitting on their desk.

Elliott Masie: Now, I know people out there are saying [that] these students, these young people, as they come to the workplace, they got their iPods on, they're doing their IM … they can't really be concentrating on that. What's your response to HR managers?

Jay Jamrog: Leave them alone. (laughs) They'll do fine. We've been talking in our seminar – we have a number of Gen Yers working for the company – and it's remarkable how [they perform] multitasking, but, you don't have to tell them what to do. They set their goals up, they make their own goals, they tell you at the end of the week what they accomplished and what's coming next week. It's remarkable how disciplined they are.

Elliott Masie: Remember, the Next Gen doesn't think that the content has to come from central authority. To use Don Tapscott's message, they've disintermediated.

Jay Jamrog: I really love that message. That was really good. You see that all the time. They'll use Web 2.0 to solve problems. And companies that don't want to use it, to go across their whole divisions and have them go on Web 2.0, are probably going to lose out.

Elliott Masie: Absolutely. The work that Jay is doing with i4cp is awesome – I know that many of you are members of i4cp. It's a very parallel consortium to ours in learning. They're working in the HR area. Please see Jay or Kevin [Oakes] if you're interested in more stuff on that. But most importantly, next year, bring someone to the conference who is under the age of 25. Thank you very much!
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.