We think of Millennials as the up-and-coming generation. But they’re already here. And according to a 2015 Elance survey, 28% already hold management positions. Consider also that in a few years, Generation Z’s front-runners will be heading to the workforce themselves. So it’s time to consider the impact that Millennials will have on employee development and training.
Millennials would rather innovate than accept the status quo.
In the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, this generation describes themselves as free thinkers, open to new ideas. Gabrielle Jackson-Boshé, consultant and president of The Millennial Solution, advises, “As Millennials are getting into training positions, they’re realizing that their generation works differently. 35% of Millennials don’t even know where their HR training manual is – let alone read it.”
Expect them to shake up old concepts about work-based training. They’ll see learning in everything from work tasks to social functions and will find a way to blur the lines between learning and working.
Technology is a means, not an end.
For folks who grew up with technology, it’s just a tool. Just as no one is impressed with a hammer, they’re not impressed with mobile, adaptive, wearable gadgets and apps. They just want to know what it can do for them.
For Millennials in L&D, technology will be a way to collect reams of data, make programs more flexible, and turn learning into interactive experiences and games.
Millennials take charge of their own development.
According to the Price Waterhouse Cooper 2015 Survey of Millennials, they place opportunity for training and development in the top three most desired employer offerings – even higher than health and pension benefits. But they prefer personalized advancement plans and highly value mentorship.
Jackson-Boshé notes, “The biggest thing is going to be the personalization of teaching; we’re going to be able to track how individuals work best, and individual training programs are going to be designed for them.”
So learners are more likely to take responsibility for their own training, and L&D professionals will be there to ensure that resources and support are available as needed.
Irrelevant training material will get weeded out.
A recent article quotes Michele Serro, founder of Doorsteps, a New York City-based online tool that targets Millennials, “They are extremely impatient with irrelevant information.” This group will eye training programs critically, excising any pieces that aren’t proving effective.
They’ll focus relentlessly on learner needs, basing content decisions on usage data and feedback. And they’ll view training programs as living entities which constantly respond to the changing environment.
Millennials will incorporate more collaborative knowledge-building.
This generation grew up in a different educational system than their older peers. More than other generations, they’ve learned not only through books and lecture, but also through experience, discussion, and problem solving.
The Deloitte study notes that Millennials value cross-team collaboration as part of a development program. And Jackson-Boshé observes that “We’re not just teaching Millenials; we have to have them involved in the process.” As trainers, they’ll value programs, such as games and collaborative learning projects, that let employees play a big part in knowledge creation.
Training will take place in the context of personal branding.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, workers aged 20 to 24 stayed in one job just less than 16 months. And those aged 25 to 34 stayed about three years. While most of the workforce is staying in one job for shorter and shorter periods, Millenials are the first generation to see this as normal. They’re also the first generation to embrace personal branding as a career asset. So expect them to find ways to use L&D as personal brand enhancement, collecting badges or accomplishments that travel from job to job, even across industries.
For many, training will be a calling.
We know that Millennials gravitate to jobs with a bigger purpose, and they take great satisfaction from helping others. In fact, more Millennials have chosen college degrees in the social and behavioral sciences than GenX-ers.
That’s great news for a giving profession like L&D. Where there’s a strong, clear purpose, Millennials bring great passion and engagement. After all, as Jackson-Boshé says, “It’s not too much to ask that work is fun and work matters.”
We see many of these changes already taking shape, but there’s clearly more to come as Millennials take a bigger role in creating and executing training programs. There may be some bumps in the road as “The Disruptive Generation” stamps its imprint on learning and development, but personally, I can’t wait to see where we go.