In the August issue of Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine, columnist Jan Niehaus touches on the increasingly relevant issue of training millennials. As she puts it: “the generation born between the early ‘80s and late ‘90s, who will represent 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, expect to be trained. But they don’t want just any old training.”
Given the prevalence of technology and social media in the lives of millennials, it’s no secret that traditional forms of training no longer cut it. Instead, businesses are better off using what Niehaus calls “dynamic media” – things your employees can interact and engage with, such as video, graphic animation, infographics and more.
How you train your millennial employees is also an opportunity to show who you are and what you’re all about; will they see you simply as the source of their next paycheck, or as a company – and a cause – worth championing. To increase the odds of the latter, here are seven tips for training millennials in today’s marketplace.
Give them a purpose. Although your millennial employees are unlikely to work for free, their sense of purpose probably isn’t fulfilled from just a paycheck. More than past generations, millennials gravitate toward work that matters to them – or at the very least interests them. By educating them about your company’s vision and defining their role in it, you will validate them professionally and motivate them to go the extra mile.
Switch it up. As Niehaus states, “Instruction that starts with Module 1 and drones through Modules 2, 3 and 4 will bore them to tears.” Most millennials prefer to learn in multiple ways, so use a wide variety of teaching techniques. The more varied and more innovative, the better.
Be hands-on. With more opportunity than past generations, millennials are eager to develop various skill sets and learn as much as possible. What better way to learn than by doing? “Whenever possible, incorporate actual work tasks into the training,” suggests Niehaus. In addition to offering instant gratification and real-time results, hands-on training is easier to retain than online modules or traditional training manuals. Much like lack of purpose, boredom is a sure way to lose a millennial employee’s interest.
The more the merrier. Whether in person, online or at work, a sense of community is important to millennials. Team-building exercises, group learning and collaboration are great ways to engage employees in a social and interactive way. Providing one-one-one mentorship is also a great way to pass on role-specific knowledge and keep your younger employees engaged.
Get with the times. “If employees see images of people working at old-fashioned computer monitors,” Niehaus warns, “they will wonder if the rest of the content is also dated.” Avoid this by keeping their training tech-savvy, digital and accessible. Since technology changes at a rapid pace, be sure to keep your training fluid and flexible. And whatever you do, no PowerPoint!
Less is more. Perhaps more than any generation before them, millennials are inundated with distractions. Ensure you keep their attention by making your training concise, relevant and specific. It’s also more effective to break training into smaller sections and keep it ongoing than to lay it on them all at once and hope they remember it.
Talk to me. Although feedback may not be unique to millennials, it goes a long way in retaining employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to hold their hands, but keep lines of communication as open as possible and don’t be afraid to hold frequent evaluations. Advice and criticism (so long as it’s constructive), as well as guidance and praise, will benefit everyone involved.