Generation Y, Generation Next, Facebookers, the MySpace Generation, Echo Boomers – whatever your nickname for them, millions of millennials have already joined or are preparing to join the world of work. This year, it is estimated that millennials will become the largest generation in the workforce. A recent survey showed that the working benefit that millennials value the most is training and development. This blog post will explore the impact this will have on the workplace, and why workplace training needs to evolve to cope with this change.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials are defined as those who were born between 1980 and 2000. Vast numbers have entered employment this year and many are preparing to in the coming years - by 2020, they will form 50% of the global workforce. They will soon outnumber their Generation X predecessors, both in the workplace and as a population as a whole. This is bound shape the world of work in the future exponentially. As the ‘Baby Boomers’ begin to retire, there will be more promotion opportunities for millennials so it’s no surprise that workplace training and development is so highly valued. Businesses need to take advantage of the key traits that millennials hold in order to capture and retain the right staff.
One of the things that sets millennials apart from other generations is their relationship with the digital world. They are the first generation to grow up surrounded by new technology – high-speed internet, smartphones, laptops and social media. They have always lived in a world where information is easily attainable and ubiquitous, finding the information they need at the touch of a button. Immediate gratification. Millennials may find that the training that they receive at work is not in line with this lifestyle and as a result, may find it dull and disengage from it.
Training for a New Generation
Think back to the very first day on the first job you ever had. You were probably taken on a tour of the business and was introduced as the newbie to each department. You may have been given a handbook, a manual, or some folders to document the training you received. You may have sat through old instructional videos, long PowerPoint presentations, talks or lectures on company policies and procedures. After that, you probably would have gone on to shadow another member of the staff for a day or two until you felt ready to fully embrace your job role and get to grips with new systems and responsibilities.
Millennials will find this scenario frustrating, unsatisfying and mostly tedious. If an employee is not happy with their training experience, there is a high chance that they might leave. The millennial generation has no reservations about seeking out another job if they’re not happy in their current one. If training consists of out-of-date videos and boring presentations, a newly hired employee may think that it is a truthful reflection of the business – outdated and dull. Job satisfaction has evolved for millennials to include a personal connection with what they are doing – they need to know that their work is worthwhile and valued by the company.
Most millennials will have experienced some form of eLearning before, whether at school or within a past job. If a new employee is faced with an eLearning system that is technologically up-to-date and easy to follow, it makes sense to conclude that the business is on the cutting edge of technology. The self-directed and social aspects of eLearning also provide a platform for businesses to encourage personal growth in millennial employees. As well as boosting personal creativity, eLearning promotes social interactions and sharing which benefits other learners and in turn, can potentially benefit the growth and expansion of a business.
The flexibility that eLearning affords means that an employee can train to be adept in various areas of the business swiftly and efficiently instead of spending hours training with staff members in other departments. This is important to employees who want to make sure that they are involved in many areas of a company as it means that they can learn new skills and cross train with ease. Businesses need to ditch the old methods of training employees and adopt a more tech savvy approach for millennials. Blurring the lines between entertainment and training lets learners feel as though they are an active participant in the training rather than passively listening to a lecture. Effective use of graphics and visuals is also paramount when training millennials. They are used to having visual information coming at them from all directions – whether it’s in the form of pop-ups when browsing online or sharing infographics on social media. Pictures can be a powerful tool in eLearning as they are a great way of conveying information quickly and in an easy-to-understand manner.
Transparency and Flexibility
Transparency is also essential to feel motivated within the job. Gone are the days where the management model was to collect and leverage knowledge in order to exert power over employees. As well as helping to develop their talents, transparency promotes a culture of freedom of information that millennials respond well to. Employees will feel more engaged with the work if the short-term and long-term goals and visions of the company are shared and they will feel more determined to teach and learn from each other on a regular basis.
The first generation of digital natives are fully aware of how much work can be done with as little as an internet connection and a laptop, so the idea of spending the entire day in an office can feel daunting and somewhat antiquated. Giving employees a measure of freedom, such as suggesting that they can work remotely, can increase productivity and keep workers motivated. A casual office environment where employees can move around freely and work in different areas also promotes motivation and excellence in work.
Attracting the right candidates and developing talent are some of the biggest challenges that businesses face today. The implementation of a learning initiative that is designed by millennials, for millennials, with a focus around eLearning and interaction can go a long way in helping employers attract and retain this new wave of millennial employees.