Business Management: Millennial training tips

Make it bite-sized and virtual. A new generation of learners requires a new approach to workplace training. Here are the six elements needed to professionally develop your millennial employees.

by Ryan Jenkins

According to Bersin by Deloitte, a leading research and advisory services firm, talent development is the second biggest challenge facing organizations today. Bersin estimates companies spend more than $130 billion per year on employee development, with leadership development making up the greatest area of spending.

Inc. magazine recently reported that 61 percent of the 2016 Inc. 500 CEOs and founders prefer to develop employees by providing outside training. However, only 28 percent have a formal leadership development program.

While effective training and development is an issue for all employees, the issue is magnified among the millennial workforce.

Seventy-one percent of millennials who are likely to leave an organization within two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed. Sixty-nine percent of millennials aspire to be leaders in the next five years and 60 percent of millennials want training to develop their leadership skills.

With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day and a devastating lack of professional development for the generation who will replace the retiring leaders, it’s no surprise that 89 percent of executives rate the need to strengthen, reengineer and improve organizational leadership as an important priority.

Microlearning training
Because millennials grew up with ubiquitous connectivity and evolving mobile technology, they think and act differently. They approach problems differently, so they require an evolved learning approach.

Microlearning can satisfy the learning expectations and preferences of millennials. It provides training in small learning units and short-term learning activities delivered in a convenient and accessible manner. Content is distributed in bursts that is typically 2 to 15 minutes in length.

For example, 21Mill offers an online microlearning platform built to help millennials succeed in the workplace. The program consists of 21 10- to 15-minute modules centered around millennial-specific training topics such as developing a strong work ethic, overcoming entitlement, putting down the device and more.

It has on-demand rich media content that is combined with real-world assignments. It tracks their accomplishments and also provides additional support from 21Mill professionals if needed.

Why it works
Millennials respond favorably to microlearning solutions for the following reasons:

1. Brief and beautiful. There is more competition for the time and attention of the emerging workforce than ever before. The media millennials consume is bite-sized, so the training they are most likely to consume has to be brief and succinct.

Millennials also have a high expectation for technology to be simple, intuitive and beautifully designed. If the training content doesn’t appear to mirror what millennials would consume on a regular basis, they will be less likely to engage and retain the information.

Microlearning requires a shorter attention span so there is less cognitive load on learners and information is easier to absorb, retain and recall. Microlearning matches human brain processing capabilities (especially millennials), which makes it a fit for today’s fast-paced and hyperconnected workplace.

2. Agile and accessible. The 21st-century employee is untethered. They are remote workers, bringing their own device or applications to work and finding new ways to execute work and structure their day. Training must be digitally native and mobile in order to be effective for the next generation of learners.

How and when millennials learn is more important than what they learn because the “what” won’t matter if they never have the time or if accessing the training is over-complicated.

3. Instant and intelligent. Today, Iinformation is being delivered instantly and intelligently.

Millennials will turn to their smartphone to find just-in-time answers to unexpected problems. Deploying intelligent learning via quick how-to articles, videos or interactive infographics where learners can pull down the content for instant application makes microlearning ideal for millennial training.

4. Collaborative and communal.  A majority of workplace learning happens via on-the-job interactions. Creating communities where millennials can learn from experts, managers and their peers and also contribute their own experience or expertise is impactful and empowering.

When microlearning offers collaborative technology and a communal environment, it helps build relationships, diminish silos, shrink geographies, enhance personal influence and promote sharing.

5. Relevant and relatable. The accelerated change happening in business means everyone needs to commit to continuous learning. This also means that training has to be hyper-relevant to the specific and evolving challenges millennials face at work. The nature of microlearning content allows for quick creation of content and fast consumption by the learner. Creating training that addresses a relevant need and provides a solution or applications that are relatable for the learner is key for engagement.

6. Blend and bind. For the digitally dependent millennial generation, it’s imperative that training merges digital with real-world activities. Offline, in-person or classroom training remains impactful in today’s digital age. A blended approach to training binds one’s learning. 

Ryan Jenkins is a partner of 21Mill that produces online training specifically targeted for millennials in the workforce. V