Training Millennials in the Workplace and Boosting Engagement
The Ins and Outs of Training Millennials
Millennials make up the largest part of the workplace and they’re expected to be 75%
of the workforce by 2025. Millennials are also known as Generation Y (Gen Y) and refer
to anyone born between 1981 and the mid-90’s. They want meaning in their work, they are
incredibly tech-savvy and value inclusion in the workplace. The traditional means of
training and onboarding this group won’t work. It requires a different approach. Because
they need to feel included and that they aren’t just an employee number on a spreadsheet,
their personal fulfillment is important to your organization’s success. A recent study
says that 50% of millennials plan on becoming entrepreneurs within a year of being hired
to a job.
So how to keep this new generation of leaders engaged? Here are some tips.
Not surprisingly it’s all about the technology with Gen Y. They live on apps and social
media so it makes sense that their preferred method of learning is digital. The other
benefit of digital learning over documents or lectures is that it fosters collaboration
One step beyond using technology is using games to teach. This is growing in popularity
among both schools and businesses, turning boring experiences (like training) into a game
complete with rewards, levels of difficulty and prizes. A 2019 report by Nielsen revealed
that millennials spend six hours on average each week watching gaming video content and 2
out of 3 in the US play video games monthly. Meeting them where they are means you are
more likely to get better engagement and learning.
Millennials are very ambitious and they also want to learn new skills. This is a perfect
recipe for a mentor relationship. The value of one-on-one relationships and professional
guidance with mentors creates a connection that help with Gen Y that can be frequent job
hoppers. The time investment shows them their value in the larger picture of the
organization as well as giving them an excellent role model.
Microlearning is learning in small, digestible chunks. This isn’t hour or even half-hour
increments. We’re talking 30 seconds to a few minutes at a time. If you think about a
population that’s also in to social media like Twitter and Snapchat and obsessed with
video games, then this makes a lot of sense. Matching your training style to the short
attention span of your audience is an effective way to again meet them where they are.
Make Learning a Company Thing
Millennials like working with other people. So involving other departments is a good
way to help them feel part of the team. Let other parts of the company contribute to
the training program content. Make learning an ongoing part of the business plan. This
way you show that you care about their role in the company which is very attractive to
As mentioned, Gen Y is a highly ambitious and career growth focused bunch. They are
intent on moving into leadership and management roles. But here’s the catch. They don’t
want to be lectured. See above section on mentors. Find a way to teach leadership with
a guiding hand rather than a megaphone. It will be much more successful.
Since They’re Staring…Video
Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails or
anything else in writing. And when the bulk of these are millennials, that’s an even
bigger population! We’ve already established traditional methods don’t work for Gen
Y so a YouTube video would be the perfect training tool. Oh and microlearning remember.
Keep it short.
Let’s recap what we know.
Millennials like their information in a high-tech way in small doses. They want to
have the whole company involved in the process and to keep learning always. They want
to have mentors who will help them become better leaders and managers. They will do
best if training comes in the form of videos and games.
None of these things are very complicated but it may mean some big shifts from what
you’ve always done. Workbooks to read or staff lecturing might have been the training
norm for many years and that may have to change. And that’s a good thing. Make the
effort to engage this generation of staff because if you do you will have a tremendously
talented and creative pool of employees who will benefit your organization.