With a new wave of young and fresh-minded employees hitting the workforce, learning & development through teaching, elearning and an online training software is critical. Fresh talent needs to be connected with in a way that resonates. So what’s a millennial you ask? They are the demographic cohort upon which your company will build its future success. Experts define Millennials or Generation-Y as the cohort born after Generation-X between the years of 1980 and 2000. Some of these individuals are in their mid 30s and are already in the workforce. Others are still making their way through school hoping for a bright future. A number of writers, sociologists and business experts debate exactly what characteristics define this generation. In some cases, they have been described as self-absorbed, entitled and even narcissistic. At the other extreme, some see in Millennials a radically different set of values emanating from their engagement with technology and their marginalization and atomization in the global economy. For employers, this means that Millennials tend to be focused on material and employment issues, have few clear allegiances to organizations and expect a reasonable work-life balance. However, these challenging traits are balanced against an enhanced engagement and understanding of technology as well as a focus on results, rather than time invested.
Training a millennial to be a model employee isn’t a one-way endeavor. You need to win them over first if you want their commitment and loyalty. While Gen-Y may be fickle when it comes to particular organization, they tend not to be so inconstant when it comes to specific issues. This means that they may respond more favourably towards actions than words. If a company stands for integrity, than prove it by sponsoring an ethics symposium. If an organization’s mission statement says it values their employees and are committed to diversity, make sure those values are put into practice in visible ways. Authenticity is a powerful force and Millennials know the real thing from hollow words in an instant.
Millennials’ tendency to focus on their career also gives their employers another chance to win them over by offering a clear path to advancement. It’s important that actions match words here. Work with Millennials to build a realistic five-year plan. Give them chances to grow and take on new responsibility. Flexible job descriptions can go a long way in this regard. Giving smaller, more frequent raises for those who take on more responsibility within their role can also go a long way to staving off demands for faster promotion.
Finally, Millennials will excel when you focus on results and use technology to help them achieve them, rather than on hours spent at a desk. Let them work where they want, when they want whenever possible. Focus on productivity rather than hours of work. If an employee completes high quality work, quickly, than give them more responsibility next time and reward them for their good job. Otherwise, all that efficiency can will be lost if completing work is secondary to sitting at a desk and putting in time.
Millennials often get a bad rap. Often the problem is that their natural strengths fit awkwardly into last century’s work cultures. By understanding what they do well and what they expect, an organization can create the conditions for turning Millennials into the best and brightest staff members in their organization.