Companies are increasingly working with two distinct generations in their workplaces. Generation X (they came after the baby boomers) and Generation Y or the millennials. So what challenges are there in training millennials and why is it worth getting right for the good of your business?
British marketing guru Simon Sinek gave his unvarnished analysis of everything that’s wrong with Generation Y. It was so scathing it went viral.
He painted a picture of how the millennial generation has apparently been given everything for nothing, which has created a crisis of unmet expectations in the workplace: He says “They’re thrust into the real world and in an instant, they find out they’re not special, their mums can’t get them a promotion, that you get nothing for coming in last – and, by the way, you can’t just have it because you want it.”
He’s not alone in his reservations about the thinking and behaviour of this new generation of workers. Professor Cary Cooper of the Manchester Business School suggests some young graduates do seem to be lacking in social skills: “They have been raised on Facebook and texting. The way you develop your social skills is by face to face interaction and this generation has had the least of that.”
So how do you give students, fresh from college or university, the skills to communicate with their co-workers and in so doing bridge the gap between generation X and Y?
I think before we start looking for the right kind of gloves to handle this flurry of snowflakes, it’s worth pointing out that they have some very unique abilities beyond those of the generation that went before.
The Journal of Organised Learning and Leadership reports on the study Training the Millennial Generation: Implications for Organizational Climate and identifies six characteristics…
- Ability to multi-task
- Desire for structure
- Technologically savvy
- Team-oriented, and
- Seek attention and feedback
So, turns out we’ve heard a lot about attention seeking, feedback desperate millennials and not so much about team-oriented, multi-tasking, tech savvy, focused achievers!
Never mind that, they still just want to sit about on beanbags, being vegan and creating apps right?
Well, the report states that workplace preferences are different to the previous generation, but then so many things have changed from the previous generation.
The last major power group were the Baby Boomers. They caused a bit of stir in their day too. Sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll, not to mention they could afford to get on the property ladder before they were thirty and most have a pension to well, actually live on.
Millennials want flexibility and variety. They want to act as agents of change and set themselves high achievement goals. That’s good, because it’s going to take more than a David Attenborough documentary to clean up our plastic choked oceans, and that’s just one of their challenges for the 21st century.
Many millennials are more entrepreneurial than the previous generation and some of that is necessity and some of it is the advancement in technology opening up the global market place. A business can be run from a smartphone, businesses now exist because of the smartphone, but not every millennial is trying to be Steve Jobs. Most just want a work place where they can grow, learn and feel valued.
So how does knowledge of the six characteristics of the millennial generation affect those developing and designing training in an age where many companies are relying heavily on self-taught training modules? Does this fit with the millennial learning style?
Turns out, that however tech savvy they are, the millennial generation most likely benefits from active engagement with other team members or collaborative activities within the work environment. There isn’t an app for that. They are well equipped to engage with online training but it can’t replace human interaction. They want to learn with real people, from real people in a real time setting.
This is the age where the culture and working environment will play as much of a role as the pay cheque in keeping the most talented workers. By recognising the need to bridge the gap between generations and investing in training that promotes great relationships, savvy companies are creating better working environments and happy workers maker for both happy and profitable business.
If you want to find out more about how training can transform your team and your business, drop us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org