Most employers acknowledge the fact that there are both employee retention and employee engagement issues in the workplace.
However, how they try to resolve these issues usually varies.
One specific generational group is partially responsible for this employee experience reevaluation phenomenon.
They are stereotypically known to be narcissistic, smug, lazy, entitled, coddled, delusional and self-centered.
You guessed it, they are the millennials , also known as Generation Y.
As an increasing amount of millennials join the workforce, it’s becoming more evident that standard employee training techniques are not working for this new generation.
In addition to the ineffective training methods, recent studies show that 43% of millennials plan to quit their job within 2 years.
What’s causing millennial dissatisfaction and turnover?
In this article, I will discuss what the challenges with training millennials and what you can do to fix the disconnect between traditional training methods and modern employees.
Working with Millennials: Who are these Kids?
Although the age bracket definition seems to fluctuate, millennials are typically defined as anyone who was born from 1980 to the early 2000’s.
Generally speaking, this group of individuals (which I’m proud to be a member of) was born after Generation X and before Generation Z.
According to a Governance Study at Brookings report, millennials will occupy 75% of the workforce by 2020.
With such a large percentage of millenials positioned to occupy the workforce, organizations need to be aware of the expectations that accompany this group.
This is a generation that rejects corporate hierarchies, that is better educated than the ones before them, and that is less accepting of unaccommodating work conditions.
In fact, according to Gallop’s report on how millennials work and live, 71% of them say they are disengaged at work.
For most businesses, this means rethinking the way they engage employees, and also how they implement their employee training.
Millennials and Technology: What’s Different about the Way they Learn?
Based on research on the millennial workforce, psychology professor Christy Price found a significant gap between expectations and performance in the workplace.
Traditional learning methods no longer offer the same results in effective knowledge transfer for this particular generation.
Instead, Professor Price suggests using the 5R Method to engage millennials in workforce training.
- Research – Working through collaboration and working in teams rather than individually.
- Relevance – The only information that matters is timely information.
- Rationale- Authoritarian learning won’t yield any results. They need to hear the rationale for why things are the way they are.
- Relaxed – Most millenials feel more comfortable to work in a relaxed and empathetic atmosphere.
- Rapport – This group responds well when others take a personal interest in their professional development.
The 5R learning method is evident in most eLearning solutions, which is why Gen Y tends to prefer this type of learning approach.
Given that this generation is statistically inclined to use new technologies, eLearning provides both the relevance they require for their in their daily work and also the rapport.
Traditional training methods do not typically support the 5R method because of their asynchronous nature and lack of connection between what’s being learned and what’s being done every day.
Let’s discuss how we can apply these methods in your learning strategy.
Modern Learning Strategies for Managing Millennials in the Workplace
The main difference between generations is what they value as a priority.
They want to have an impact on their jobs, they want to feel purpose and meaning in what they do professionally.
Corporate environments lack the “fulfillment factor” and the leadership that millennials need in order to be successful in the workplace because they tend to prioritize short term financial gains rather than the well-being of the employees.
Modern work environments have already taken note of the low employee engagement which is why they are investing heavily in new ways to increase engagement.
Here are some effective ways to improve your learning strategies for the millennial workforce.
1. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Offering continuous learning options for millenials provides more than just professional development.
The best example of supporting professional development is through the support of the manager.
Offering leadership coaching, for example, is one way a manager can proactively begin a professional development plan with their millennial employees.
2. Let Them Prioritize their own Workload
Millenials want to feel that they are making an impact and if they can’t see this happening in their job, they are not hesitating to check the job boards.
To millenials, offering little to no flexibility during working hours translates to a lack of trust and a sign of indifference towards the importance of a positive employee experience company culture.
Companies like Netflix promote the importance of having a work-life balance by offering flexible working hours and open communication within the team.
As more companies that offer flexibility in the workplace, the more it will become a standard expectation.
3. Believe in Digitization as Much as They Do
In general, millennials are fans of technology so it only makes sense to offer training on a platform they are familiar with.
Mobile learning, or mLearning allows training to be accessed on the go and at any time.
Setting up training in a mobile app can provide a more personalized training experience that also features the benefits of gamification.
Another new offering for training derives from implementing VR technology.
Companies such as Strivr are changing the entire employee training approach by offering a virtual-reality headset that simulates a virtual situation employees may encounter on the job.
As more millennials enter the workforce, trainings will be forced to become digitized if they want to remain relevant.
4. Learning through Microlearning
Microlearning is the process of presenting information in bite sized chunks rather than all at once.
As we saw in a previous blog article, in which we debunked Professional Training and Development Myths, this learning approach has a 20% higher information retention rate than long form training.
The reason for this is because microlearning accounts for the forgetting curve associated with the human learning process.
Microlearning can also be implemented in eLearning training methods through gamification.
Gamification tends to bode well with this mobile device obsessed generation because of the activation of the rewards system in their brains, something which they readily interact with through social media or other gaming applications.
5. Perks are Cool, but Values Matter More
Providing snacks and bean bag chairs at work aren’t going to convince millennials to join your company more than ones who don’t.
Millennials want to work a place where their hopes and dreams are not only acknowledged but also encouraged to become reality.
Contrary to popular belief, offering a competitive salary is still an important factor in attracting and retaining top talent.
Student debt haunts millennials now more than ever, and this is why they will not settle for mediocre salaries.
Overcoming Problems with Millennials in the Workplace is Feasible
Working with millennials can be a challenge if there is no investment made in their interest.
As a fellow millennial, I understand the frustrations my generation has with feeling underappreciated, not seeing value in the workplace, and just getting by financially – never really getting ahead.
I can attest to the fact that businesses who address our struggles without trivializing them are far more likely to retain top talent.
Businesses can easily overcome the problems associated with retaining millennials by restructuring employee training.
Millennials already live an active digital lifestyle, which is why work environments that don’t support this is like sending this group back to the stone age.
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