The growing workforce of fresh faced millennials and GenY workers has many organizations concerned, with millennials being called the “Me Me Me Generation.” Some older generations have trouble connecting with the younger workers who seem to have completely different desires and interests (emphasized and exaggerated in this fake training video). While millennials might not be entirely composed of 100% positive qualities, no generation is. Each generation brings strengths and weaknesses to the workplace and everyone would be better off if they could learn from each other.
As the gap between what people learn in college and what is required for work in the real world seems to grow, organizations will be required to pick up the slack and train millennials on core concepts they need to know in order to adequately perform their role.
5 tips for training millennials in the work place
1. Provide Learning Resources
I gained access to the internet in elementary school and can barely remember life before the internet. Millennials have grown up in a world where the only limit to accessing information is the time it takes to type their query into a web connected device.
Curious and ambitious employees want the proper resources to develop their talents. If the organization doesn’t provide the learning resources internally, they’ll seek them from outside sources, which may or may not be helpful. Growth focused organizations provide their employees adequate resources to develop their talents. Having internal learning resources saves time from searching the web and increases the speed to proficiency, among other benefits.
2. Utilize Gamification
Gamification is a way to tie together many of the components millennials are seeking in training and in work. At the core, gamification helps provide meaning and context to the training. Employees become more engaged in training when they feel like a character playing a central role in a game. Many people resist the idea of gamification due to fears of unnecessary costs, but when done well, gamification doesn't need the budget of a Michael Bay movie. When I was growing up, some of my favorite books were the Choose Your Own Adventure series. That was likely my first experience to gamification through the low-cost medium of a book.
For more on the topic of gamification, read: Tapping Into the Intangible: Qualifying the Psychology of Gamification.
3. Provide Feedback
Millennials are interested in knowing how much progress they're making in developing their skills and career. This likely ties in with the generation that grew up on video games that made you constantly aware of your progress within the game. Younger workers today want to improve in their work roles and get actionable feedback from supervisors. Help millennials grow through providing feedback on a consistent basis. Feedback can come from the training or an employee resource group.
While using the site Treehouse to learn coding this year, I wasn’t surprised when they rolled out a progress feature to better track learning across the site. Whether people are consciously aware of it or not, we all want a measure of progress in our lives.
4. Deliver Training That Has Meaning
All training that is required should have a meaning beyond just "needing to know" something. Millennials, and humans in general, are meaning seekers. It's not enough to know what you should learn, but also why you should learn it. A recent consumer trend report from Ford confirms the increase in meaning seeking consumers.
Without a reason for doing something, it is hard to become inspired to take action. Ideally, the reason "why" should be in the interest of the learner as well as the organization. If discovering and communicating the reason why the training is important, perhaps you should question why the training was created at all.
5. Break Learning Into Bite-Sized Chunks
With attention spans shrinking, smaller chunks of eLearning will be more effective in engaging millennials. Bite-sized chunks of learning enable higher retention and the ability to immediately apply specific concepts you learned. The core concept behind chunking is that it makes information easier to remember. Information that's easier to remember is easier to apply to actual work, saving time from being confused and having to look up the information.
The power of chunking is everywhere. The most common example is the phone number. The small dashes make the phone number far easier to remember than in they were bunched together. Although, not many people have a need to remember phone numbers any more.
Do millennials pose a threat or an opportunity?
Millennials do not pose a threat to the workforce and can be a tremendous advantage when utilized to their full capacity. Their interests and demands have evolved slightly from older generations, but what is life other than slow change? Instead of fighting the change in culture, the companies that will thrive in the future are the ones that will adapt to the culture shifts and help their employees develop the skills necessary to stay competitive in the future.
What do you think?