Millennials, the name given to the generation born between the 1980’s to the early 2000’s, are on the road to becoming the largest part of the workforce. It is estimated that by 2025, these millennials will constitute approximately 75% of the workforce. Born in the digital age, this set of people have a different set of motivations and different expectations, both from their life and their workplace. Millennials, I believe, have been a misunderstood lot. They are often called entitled, lazy, a bit too straightforward for comfort, spoilt – the list, though factually quite incorrect, is quite long and nothing more than a set of gross generalization that stops us from looking deeper at their inherent qualities.
I have often observed that these adjectives used to define millennials stem from a poor understanding of their psyche. It’s not that millennials are lazy or inefficient. They just want to do their work faster and better. This is the generation that believes that time on work is far more important than time at work. They will look for ways to do a job faster and better. They will object to things that were considered normal in the age of the baby boomers. In the days of the boomers, employee engagement and enablement did not feature on any organization’s priority list. That generation expected nothing different. The employee handbook was the onboarding experience and annual performance reviews sufficed for feedbacks.
The millennials, however, would object to these conditions and rightfully so. A workplace has to be motivating and inspiring. Given that a significant amount of time is spent at work, why should the expectation of an enriching experience be ‘too much to ask for’? Almost 60% of working millennials feel that opportunities to learn and grow on the job are essential for them. Only 40% of the baby boomers thought so. Gallup says, 9 out of 10 millennials believe development is important at work. A Fidelity survey discovered that millennials felt that the quality of life at work ranked higher than a fat salary.
In these changing times, how can employee enablement strategies remain the same?
The quest for instant productivity
With a different set of motivations, it is clear that enablement strategies of the past (even as they were) must get a makeover. This is because millennials want to hit the ground running. They want to feel capable and confident in their jobs from the word ‘go’ and want to start making an impact as soon as possible.
They are also skilled at implementing their learning. Pitching the same old boring training routine to them is only going to be counter-productive. Training has to be pitched as a learning and development opportunity and must have a quantifiable outcome.
Mobile – this is where the action is
We also have to accept that we cannot take the mobile out of the life of the millennial. Being brought up in the age of technology, the mobile is actually a powerful and a very relevant tool that organizations must capitalize on to drive their enablement strategies. Mobile brings enablement closer to where the employee is…where the work really happens. Enabling onboarding experiences and making all training and learning opportunities mobile-friendly will drive better knowledge transfer and retention.
Quality trumps quantity
It’s not about the number of enablement strategies that you have but the quality of those enablement experiences that run this generation. For example, text heavy, long, and tedious training processes can easily be replaced with bite-sized content that reduces cognitive load. Video, gamification, storytelling, social connect etc. are aspects that can be leveraged to make training content more engaging as well as to facilitate knowledge retention. Personalization also comes in handy to improve the quality of enablement experiences and the data generated from them are a valuable information repository to proactively identify learning gaps and mitigate immediately.
Mapping opportunities for growth
The end of the year appraisal for performance feedback will soon be a relic of the past. Millennials want enablement to open up opportunities for growth. For this, feedback has to be proactive and action has to be immediate. This again ties into having a dynamic learning plan that accommodates the learning needs of this demographic and that can be disseminated with ease in a device agnostic manner.
Enablement has to lead to empowerment
Millennials will only commit to the growth of a company when they see enablement strategies targeted towards their empowerment. Organizations thus have to create dynamic learning initiatives that allow for proactive course correction when needed. This will give them the learning they will need to compete in real-world scenarios and give them the means to learn continuously. With more learning, they will feel more empowered to do their jobs better and hence will be more engaged at work. Given that the millennials are the best-educated generation in history, education and learning play a big role in their lives. Enablement thus has to be driven through education. It must help alleviate boredom at work and give them learning opportunities to pick up ‘what they want to learn’ versus training on ‘how to do your job’.
The millennials are coming, and organizations need to now learn to adapt to and attract this talent pool. This generation has a sense of ownership and is attracted to new learning opportunities. Enablement strategies thus need to accommodate this big change in thought and create a learning culture that is woven into the fabric of the organization. By doing so not only will organizations have a loyal workforce but will also be able to uncover latent talent.
Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here for a free consultation call with one of our services experts. With +11 years of experience and +100 happy clients, we know exactly what your millennial workforce wants – to include some form of eLearning into their current mix, gradually turning the entire process of cost-intensive traditional training activities into a cost-effective eLearning program.