All the virtual and actual ink writers have spilled about how to reach millennials in the workplace might suggest they’re a challenging audience to connect with, but the truth is that they aren’t far off from the generations who went before them. Defined as people who have come of age since the turn of the century, millennial workers do have some defining characteristics that could change the way they respond to training, though, so make sessions more productive with these tips for engaging them.
While Generation X, the cohort of people who came of age in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, were the digital pioneers, millennials are the first true digital natives. For them, social media is second nature, and HR directors who aren’t a part of the seamlessly integrated online environment in which digital natives feel most comfortable could fail to make enough of an impression. Offering training via Skype or other online connections, keeping your team up to date on training times with social media, and being accessible through all major digital channels are vital to successful training sessions with younger workers.
As a bonus, many of your veteran workers will also benefit from the digitization of training policies. The digital revolution didn’t just hit the youngest generation, and people of every age are becoming more tech-savvy.
Whether the training program you’re developing is geared to honing a general skill set or is more position-specific, the fact that you offer professional development is a significant perk for a millennial audience. Earlier generations, including the baby boomers and those who went before them, typically expected to be with a company for decades. Today, that job market is vastly changed, and the average length of stay for American workers is closer to four years than forty. Companies that train their personnel are considerably more likely to retain them for the long haul, and millennial workers actively seek businesses that invest in their continuing education.
Giving personnel the chance to train in other departments is a considerable draw too. It’s not unusual for a marketing assistant to have an avid interest in coding or for a new engineer to have a background in sales. By mixing and matching skills across a wider spectrum, millennial workers enhance your organization’s flexibility too, so you have many reasons to open the door to varied learning opportunities.
Create Work-Life Balance
Another contrast between millennials and baby boomers is the emphasis on personal growth and fulfillment. The ideal job for a millennial worker is usually one that includes unique learning experiences, variety, and space for a personal life. While those have always been important values for plenty of Gen-X and baby boomers too, it’s a core tenet of how millennials view work. Give them opportunities to train on a flexible schedule, enable telecommuting, incorporate novel experiences, and you’ll attract the best and brightest of this energetic and motivated generation of young workers.
In general, millennials are less formal and more personal than their counterparts in earlier generations. They’ve grown up with smaller families, targeted marketing and a la carte educational opportunities that have made them more receptive to customized experiences. If your training program can be made flexible to address their individual concerns and challenges, they’re much more active participants. Keep them tuned in by giving them some measure of control over their training sessions. When they help guide the training, millennials are far more engaged.