Today, I spoke to Jason Ryan Dorsey, who is considered the Gen Y Guy®, an acclaimed keynote speaker, bestselling author, corporate consultant and award-winning entrepreneur. In the past twelve years, he has delivered 1,800 keynote speeches around the world, and his latest book is called Y-Size Your Business. In this interview, Jason tells us about why employers are concerned about Gen-Y, how companies can find and attract Gen-Y, and more.
What are employers biggest concerns when managing gen-y?
Their biggest concerns are three-fold:
- Can Gen Y become loyal employees? To most employers loyalty means tenure—especially when they invest money delivering on-the-job training. They want an employee who will stay for at least two years, but their expectations could differ dramatically based on the industry and job position. #
- Do I have to coddle Gen Y? There is a perception that Gen Y needs constant attention and praise. While this perception is not completely accurate, when Gen Y does act high maintenance in the workplace employers have limited patience.
- Will Gen Y act professional at work? This comes from the idea that our pants seem baggy, our interpersonal communication skills are more casual, and we view “being on time” a little different than our parents.
What recruitment methods do companies use to find and attract gen-y?
The easiest way to attract quality Gen Y applicants is to bring your company’s culture to life. You can do this by replacing posed pictures of employees with YouTube style videos of actual Gen Y employees talking about (and demonstrating) a regular day at work or describing their favorite work project so far. We want to see and experience the culture of a company because to us the people and mission-side of a business outweigh a paycheck. This is particularly true when we have job options. You can also make a job much more attractive to us by focusing on the projects, outcomes, challenges, and growth opportunities the job offers rather than the job description.
How did you become the gen-y guy?
By accident. I wrote a bestselling career book at age 18. I spent the next many years on the road teaching over 500,000 Gen Yers how to get good jobs and get promoted. Five years ago, employers started calling me for help. They were struggling with hiring, retaining, and developing Gen Y employees. In short, what had worked for them in the past was no longer working. They sought me out because I was in Gen Y, I had talked with so many of my peers about employment, and I understood what it was like to run a company. Their calls for help highlighted a knowledge gap that was not being addressed: How do you find a common ground to build on between Gen Y and other generations? I began focusing all my research, interviews, speaking, and consulting on this common ground. The result was Y-Size Your Business which positioned me as The Gen Y Guy. That plus being on 60 Minutes, 20/20, and keynoting 100 events each year reinforced my positioning as a the thought leader on Gen Y. Now all my work focuses on Gen Y and how to make us more valuable employees and consumers.
How can hiring gen-y’ers save companies money?
Several ways. The obvious is that we are less expensive than other generations to employ, especially if you factor in benefits. This cost differential goes straight to the bottom line. The less obvious is that we really expect to make a difference from Day One. We expect to solve operational problems (i.e. Lets figure out how to make the order line move faster) as well as institutional challenges (How do we increase ideation in a large company—which is Chapter 1 in my book). Problem-solving on the frontlines and ideation are two areas where companies can save large amounts of money and grow their business. Additionally, Gen Y will take a job for less money than competitors offer them when they believe in the company’s mission. Gen Y also is willing to take on non-traditional work arrangements which saves companies money and gives us more time to hang out with our friends—a real win/win.
What do you think will happen when millennials account for 50% of the workforce in 2020?
Millennials already exceed more than 50% of the workforce in many industries where I speak or consult. The biggest effect of this demographic shift is lots of pressure on senior leaders to increase transparency and communication across the organization, a different valuing of incentives and compensation than older generations, and a need for cross-generation talent development and knowledge transfer. By 2020 not only will Gen Y represent a huge percentage of the workforce, but Gen X will be in more senior roles and the generation after Y will be entering the workforce and frustrating us! In short, it will be an exciting time.
Jason Ryan Dorsey is a thought leader on Gen Y and bridging the generations. Recognized as The Gen Y Guy®, Jason is an acclaimed keynote speaker, bestselling author, corporate consultant and award-winning entrepreneur. In the past twelve years, he has delivered 1,800 keynote speeches around the world—earning standing ovations from audiences as large as 13,000. Jason’s clients have taken him to all 50 states and as far away as Egypt, Finland, Spain, and India. In a typical year, he delivers more than 120 customized programs at events ranging from CEO summits and high-profile education conferences to international association meetings. A proud member of Gen Y (who text messages his mom every day), Jason has been featured as a generational expert on 60 Minutes, 20/20, The Today Show, The View, in Fortune Magazine and over 100 other media outlets. In recognition of his business achievements, Jason won the Austin Under 40 Entrepreneur of the Year Award at age 25—one of the youngest winners ever. Jason’s newest book is titled Y-Size Your Business: How Gen Y Employees Can Grow Your Business and Save You Money.