There are a thousand and one articles on how to interact and motivate millennials and a businessman can get tired of reading them. But as millennials move on from college and become an ever increasing part of the workforce, business owners have to understand that older training methods will not be as effective with this new generation.
Millennials are more wired to jump around, chafe at sitting around for hours as some out of touch instructor dully lectures to them, and rely on technology and social media to both work and stay informed. They are also interested in moving ahead and not just doing the same job for 40 years as their fathers and grandfathers might have. This may not just be a cultural change, but a neurological change created by how our brains adapt to technology.
You could interpret these changes as a sign of how millennials lack discipline, but a better approach is to innovate and think about how we can update how to train future employees. Training always needs to be configured to the present, whether we are talking about working with millennials or adapting to a globalized world.
Here are a few tips on how employees should train millennials to turn them into energized leaders willing to help your business.
Providing a solid structure
Millennials are often characterized as flighty people who do not know what they want in life. But while some millennials may not have found a purpose yet, they desperately seek one and want a job that provides a strong sense of meaning, and will not hesitate to leave job if it cannot.
If you know how to harness this desire, it can be useful. A training program for millennials should be clear, concise, and easily lead from Point A to B. Consider breaking it up into smaller chunks so that progression is easier to see so it can accommodate their shorter attention spans. This is advice one Toronto immigration lawyer taught me.
Explain how training benefits them
Americans as a whole are known for not doing things unless they know why they should, and millennials amp that trait up to 11. If you want them to take training seriously, you need to show them that it will benefit them in return, particularly in their career development.
Do not just mandate a training class and demand that millennials show up because you said so. Instead, take a moment to explain to the millennials why this training program is so important both for the business and them. Stress how it can advance their careers, and millennials will take to that training like a fish in water.
We all know the stereotype of how millennials are phone-addicted freaks who cannot communicate without their toys. But given the growing importance of technology in the workplace, any training program should have a digital component to begin with.
Furthermore, using technology can help create lessons suited for their attention spans. Instead of a two-hour lecture by a professional, you can use a series of short blogs or videos to constantly give millennials new information and let them learn at their own pace. Training should be individualized, and technology makes that easier than ever.
Consider ethics training
You have to be careful with this one. On one hand, millennials highly value ethics when it comes to selecting a workplace. But what they view as ethical is not the same thing as what previous generations view as ethical, and millennials are more willing to tolerate certain kinds of problematic behavior.
Your business may want an ethics training course to ensure that millennials can better understand that privately tweeting or blogging about the company and copying confidential papers may not be acceptable. But as noted above, you have to make it clear how this benefits them. You will not get millennials to change their behavior by simply declaring “Because this is what the company orders.”
Millennials may use technology to learn, but they crave social interaction and will listen to older figures whom they respect. Businesses should use veteran workers as mentors to show younger millennials the ropes.
Furthermore, the presence of an older worker can temper millennial expectations and teach them that they will not be running your business in two years.
This is the most important tip of all. As noted above, millennials want purpose. And part of that purpose is that they want to know that they matter to their workplace and that they are improving. By both giving and receiving feedback, a business can demonstrate they care about millennials and are looking out for their interests.
Whenever a training course is complete, give millennials a questionnaire or talk to them to find out what they thought about the course. This will let you craft a course more suited for their needs and demonstrate that they truly are part of a larger organization and can find their purpose here.