Companies around the world are finally feeling the impact of Millennials joining the workforce — and most business leaders don’t know how to get the best out of them.
According to a recent study by Bentley University, 68% of corporate recruiters say that it’s difficult for their organization to manage Millennials, and Gen Y’s preparedness seems to be a big reason why. The study found that 61% of business leaders give colleges and universities a “C” or lower on preparing recent college grads for their first jobs. In fact, 41% even gave their own hires a “C” or lower.
Whether Millennials go into the restaurant and hospitality industries, or desk jobs in finance and marketing, they will certainly require workplace training and development. But to make training effective, companies must teach to the habits, preferences and values of Millennials.
Millennials are not mobile-enabled but mobile-dependent. Born and bred on digital technology, light on company loyalty and more committed to work/life balance and personal development than a big salary, Millennials bring a puzzling set of traits. For businesses, technology powered training will be the key to engaging Millennials and producing good results. Here’s how to do it.
Millennials like to watch short, entertaining video lessons that are no longer than 3 minutes. Why that short? Well, the average length of internet videos has dropped to 5.1 minutes—a year ago, that average was 6.4 minutes, according to comScore. In addition, Lloyds TBS Insurance found in a 2008 behavioral study that the average attention span had dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes in just 10 years. 3 minute videos ensure that your Gen Y audience can take it all in.
Want Millennials to complete training? Don’t make them sit in front of a TV, desktop or thick binder of papers. Millennials want the freedom to train on their smartphone during the commute to work or on their tablet at home. If they have to sit at a designated training station at work at a specific time, they’re going to be bitter about training. A mobile training app will give them the freedom they prefer.
School age Millennials surf Facebook during classes and lectures because the dialogue is one way. Embrace the lure of social media by letting Millennials connect with their co-workers in your mobile training app. Create an open discussion board for asking questions and sharing knowledge. Make sure trainees can share resources with each other and let your users rate content and training modules.
They grew up on Super Mario and now they're addicted to Candy Crush. If you want to get Millennials motivated, gamify their learning experience. Let users unlock badges like they would on mobile games. Set up a leaderboard that gives Millennials an incentive to perform well and be proud of their achievements. Even tie success in digital training to real-life incentives like gift cards, digital gear or other rewards.
Millennials are used to having a lot of choice over the content they consume. In school, when Millennials didn’t see the value in a reading or lecture, they likely skipped it and found the same information on Wikipedia, YouTube or elsewhere. Connect training directly to on-the-job achievement and success. If you want Gen Y to engage with your content, make the practical value of their training crystal clear.
Millennials learn by watching, or skimming and Googling, not hefty reading. If your lessons are filled with dense text, training will fail. Break down thick paragraphs into catchy headlines with short bullet points—or better yet, replace a lot of the text with videos and images that show what you hoped to explain.
Gen Y trainees are used to having full control over their schedules. In college, a lot of Millennials learned to skip lectures and watch the video recording when they had more energy and enthusiasm. Don’t waste time finding a space or scheduling training times if your materials are online. Set a deadline, and they’ll get the work done on their own time.
Facebook login and Google login have taught Millennials that they should have instant access to any website. If you bury your training portal several clicks into your website, if you have a lengthy registration process or if you organize training into a dizzying array of sections, Millennials will be deterred.
Millennials place a high priority on personal development. If training tools feel like an assessment, rather than an opportunity to improve, achieve and grow, many Millennials will resent the experience. While gamification can spark healthy competition, giving letter grade scores or instituting consequences for low scores may spoil the intentions of training.
Millennials are used to collaboration, discussion and teamwork in education. If you prevent Millennials from interacting during the training process, they will be less motivated to learn and less effective at mastering the material.
To some employers, Millennials seem hopelessly pinned to their smartphones, obsessed with social media and too entitled to succeed in the workplace. To smart employers, Millennials are simply a different generation with an evolving set of values, habits and expectations.
Companies will bring out the best qualities in Millennials by using technology to create engaging training and development programs. With concise, snappy content, the freedom of anywhere, anytime training, social learning tools and gamification, employers can meet Millennials on their own turf. This is not a matter of spoiling or coddling Millennials—this is smart business strategy for companies that want an effective, well-trained workforce.
There is value in dense reading, rigorous scheduling, independent learning and high pressure tests, but workplace training is not the ideal place to create those experiences. Help Millennials learn workplace skills, processes and theory as efficiently as possible, and then have them demonstrate their grit in work that serves the company and its customers.
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