Millennials and Training: The Winning Combination
How to Ensure Effective Recruitment and Retention of Millennials
Millennials: Are you still wondering what the big deal is about this generation, and why all the hype? Or are you past that but scrambling to find ways to recruit, satisfy, and retain these young workers?
Whether or not you want to admit it, millennials are shaping future strategies for companies and recruiters. The numbers are staggering:
- There are currently 40 million millennials in the workplace.
- By 2025, 3 out of 4 workers worldwide will be millennials (Schawbel, 2012).
Ensuring that you attract and retain millennials should be a high priority as you develop your workforce. But many companies find it hard to get millennials to stay longer than a year and are spending a lot on rehiring. To get a sense of how tricky it can be to keep millennials on board, consider these statistics:
- The average tenure for millennials is only two years. (Compare this with five years for Gen Xers and seven years for Baby Boomers; PRWeb, 2012).
- It costs an average of $24,000 to replace a millennial employee (Experience.com, 2008).
- Millennials are the least engaged cohort in the workplace, with only 28.9 percent of them feeling engaged at work (Adkins, 2015).
The bottom line is this: effectively being able to recruit and retain millennials will be vital to the success of every company in the next decade.
Why Is Training Important for Millennials?
The millennial generation, now aged 18–33, has grown up in a world where they can access whatever information they want, whenever and wherever they want. They’re on track to be the most educated generation in American history, and 40 percent of them are still in school (Yingling, 2011; Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next, 2010). As a result, education and information availability are priorities for millennials even when they enter the workforce, and they want access to on-the-job training to increase their productivity and success.
Corporate culture has been slow to meet these needs. A survey of 1,200 employed millennials nationwide found that they were not receiving the breadth of corporate training they sought (Habib, 2015). Worse, many respondents named “lack of company support for training and development” as the most surprising aspect of work in the “real world.” Only 20 percent said their employers provided the training opportunities they needed to keep up their job skills (Reyes, Creating Training for Millennials that Works, 2015).
An effective training plan is a key to ensuring that millennials are integrated into your company, prepared and successful in their jobs, and willing to stay longer. Below are some tips for ensuring your training programs resonate with your millennial staff.
How to Redefine Your Training Strategy
Ensure flexible, personalized training
Because of the values many millennials hold, it is vital that your training can be customized and personalized to your staff’s diverse needs. Training should empower participants and help them learn what they need, when they need it.
What are the values of millennials? There are lots, but they almost always include the following:
Any training your company provides should have these values at its core. For example, instead of telling participants how to carry out a task or solve a problem, provide them with the tools, resources, and capabilities to figure it out on their own. Let students customize their online learning process by giving them options for what to learn and how to learn it. Personalization can be achieved by customizing training's to your company’s culture, work environment, and procedures. This will keep participants engaged and focused on the most important information and help them quickly apply their new knowledge to their day-to-day responsibilities.
Helping your staff members control their own professional development will ensure greater engagement, excitement to learn, and incorporation and retention of knowledge (Casey, 2016).
The one book that most millennials read is Facebook. It’s important for your company training to be aligned with the digital age. Nowadays, training is about more than just handing out textbooks and manuals; it’s about engaging your audience through interactive and digital methods.
Millennials expect to learn in the most efficient way possible, through media like Wikipedia, Google Docs, Skype for Business, social networks, chat windows, blogs, YouTube videos, virtual reality, recorded lectures, interactive apps, and customizable online training (GoToTraining, 2016). Consider implementing short videos, remote training sessions, and learning through apps and mobile devices. Let your employees exchange ideas, connect remotely, and collaborate by setting up company pages through Wiki, Google, Tumblr, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
E-Learning can also make your company more adaptable to change. It’s easy to customize so you can keep pace with the development of technology, work procedures, and your own staff. E‑learning is changeable in the same way millennials are, making it a perfect fit (Payne, 2015).
Keep it to the point and organized
To keep up people’s interest in the material, create short, highly focused sessions. Training should be based on sound research, facts, and evidence, and provide interesting soundbites and quick blips of information. Prioritize quality of information over format (Kiisel, 2012).
Secondly, think about how you organize the material. In each module, make sure you say why the participants need to learn something and how it is relevant to their jobs. Then move on to the details: what they are going to do and how they will implement the learning (Reyes, Create Learning Content that Inspires Action, 2014). This will help participants stay focused, attentive, and engaged in the learning process.
Keep it interactive
Many millennials enjoy working on teams and think a team can accomplish more than a single person. Take advantage of this by running team exercises, breakout groups, ice-breakers, and brainstorming activities in your training sessions (Heathfield, How to Build a Successful Work Team, 2016).
Millennials want to learn quickly and on the spot so they can get on with their work and their lives. So make sure your videos don’t drag (GoToTraining, 2016). Create quick, engaging videos that get to the point and are filled with valuable information.
Other ideas for training are case studies, realistic scenarios or role plays, games and competitions, and 3D simulations. These can make training programs more entertaining and effective (Sappington). Drawing your audience in with humor and emotion is another critical strategy for increasing engagement.
Set goals, objectives, and expectations
Many studies have shown that millennials want to know how their work contributes to larger tasks and addresses broader societal concerns. For example, the Center for Generational Kinetics found that 60 percent of millennials are interested in finding a sense of purpose when choosing an employer (The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2015).
When your staff are fully included and can take ownership of what they’re doing, their contributions will be even greater. By giving the participants the power, up front, to know what they will be learning and how they can make the best of the experience, you create a path of clear milestones toward better understanding and increased engagement (Casey, 2016; Kiisel 2012).
Here are some tips for grabbing your audience’s attention and getting them to buy into the training content:
- Clearly answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Why is the training important? How will it enhance participants’ ability to contribute to their teams and the company?
- What are the goals of the training and the expectations for staff participants?
- What learning objectives do you want participants to master?
- Give a short description of each training module to provide an overview of its key outcomes and takeaways.
- Include an action plan at the end of each module to help participants connect their learning to actions in their day-to-day tasks.
By using these techniques in your training, you can show participants clearly how they can make an impact and what they are expected to do, ultimately increasing staff motivation and engagement.
Follow up and give feedback
Millennials are less focused on promotion through new titles than previous generations, and are more concerned with steady career development. They want to feel confident and able to execute as they progress. Make sure that your trainings map out the path for employees to progress to the next level. For example, tell participants which skills and behaviors the training offers that will set them on the fast track to career success.
Ensure that follow-up is a two-way street. Ask for employees’ feedback on how the training went, what they liked, and what they would improve. Find out what their plan of action and next steps will be for further study. Make sure they have avenues to engage with mentors when they face roadblocks to their learning plans. A collaborative feedback system lets millennials feel that their voices are being heard and their plan of action has been recognized by higher-ups, and they will look forward to reaching their milestones as they progress.
Always remember to recognize and reward staff as they meet expectations and implement learnings into their daily work tasks. Providing valuable feedback, particularly for millennials, will let them know they are on the right track and ensure they feel included, respected and seen within their company.
To satisfy and retain the fastest-growing generation in the workplace, remember that the things millennials look for and enjoy in training's will be beneficial to all employees, no matter what their generation. By ensuring you offer flexible, empowering, collaborative, tech-savvy training options, you keep your company ahead of the curve, adaptable to change, and able to effectively reach employees with diverse needs.
These training steps will put your company on a path to creating a culture of transformational change—empowering your workforce to create the professional development path that works for them and ensures success every step of the way. This training model will help staff members feel supported and appreciated as they take the initiative to change their own behavior, boost their efficiency, and become more effective at their jobs.
By strengthening your training program, you ensure a happier, more productive millennial workforce, as well as success for all staff members regardless of generation.