Train Them the Way They Want to Learn and You’ll Keep Them

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Oct 5, 2018

Over one-in-three American workers today are millennials, officially making this the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Millennials also happen to be the most likely to job-hop, with 21% telling Gallup researchers in 2016 that they changed jobs within the past year — more than three times the number of non-millennials who report the same.

So how can businesses attract millennial talent and, most importantly, retain them?

Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey reported that the 71% who said they are likely to leave an organization within two years credited this to feeling dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed — which means it’s safe to say that learning and development are critical factors that are shaping the perception of jobs and organizations. As work cycles continue to evolve and technology advances, re-skilling employees will become an even greater priority for businesses looking to retain talent.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering how to adopt a training and development program that not only fulfills the demands of the growing millennial workforce, but future generations of tech-savvy workers to come.

Training on-demand

Digital learning is desired by millennials in particular, as they’ve grown accustomed to having phones, tablets and computers at their fingertips. This is why millennials require quick, efficient and personalized experiences — it’s what they’re used to! Offering on-demand training opportunities plays into this desire for instant, 24/7, flexible learning, while granting access to training on a range of platforms further simplifies the process.

What’s great about on-demand training is that it’s continuously available to employees at all stages of their development, from the onboarding process and beyond. Offering learning opportunities that are easily accessible and available on-demand allows millennial employees to take advantage of their facility with technology and provide training options that fulfill their pull toward digital experiences. Not only will this foster loyalty, but will help shift the perception of training from a time-consuming obligation to a flexible advantage. What’s more, offering on-demand learning opportunities that employees can access on their own terms assures them that your company prioritizes the employee experience.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a great example of a learning tool companies can utilize to deliver on-demand training to workers. These flexible training models allow employees to take courses and complete assignments on their own time, across multiple devices — whether they’re commuting or taking a lunch break. What’s more, organized online courses foster a sense of community through their user forums, threads and discussion boards.

Social media platforms have become an integral part of our everyday lives, so why not adopt the benefits of these tools when crafting learning opportunities? Allowing employees to engage with other learners on these platforms will encourage connections and comradery among staffers.

These courses, however, are not for everyone. See “Don’t MOOC Your Executives.”

Gamify training and make it flexible

A benefit that millennials are increasingly prioritizing when looking for jobs (or weighing as a factor when deciding to stay or leave their current employment) is the potential for a flexible work schedule. In fact, 51% of workers would be willing to change jobs to get a flexible schedule. Providing the opportunity to train remotely on digital platforms appeals to this desire for flex work opportunities and in turn, increases loyalty and retention rates among this demographic.

A common concern with remote or flexible work options, however, is that employees will not be as engaged when they’re not in an office setting. A great way to acknowledge the flex work trend while keeping employees motivated — especially when it comes to training — is to incorporate gamification into learning and development programs. In fact, 87% of the 400 employees in a survey agreed that gamification makes them more productive; 84% said more engaged and happier (82%) at work.

Gamification is used to instill motivation in employees and inspire a sense of teamwork that ultimately leads to quicker and stronger adoption of skills. Further, this tactic removes the stress and pressure often associated with traditional training programs and gives learners the same sense of accomplishment and community that they’d get from being part of a team outside the office.

The best thing about today’s digital economy is that it’s much easier to connect from a distance — millennials recognize this in their social lives and expect the same at work. A great way to stay connected with remote workers throughout the training process is to request feedback at the end of a course. This will help organizations determine employees’ satisfaction with the program and how confident they feel about their progress, which is especially important to monitor when you’re not able to have face time day-to-day.

One size doesn’t fit all

Millennials aren’t interested in a one-size-fits-all training experience; the same way they expect retailers to cater to their individual preferences as consumers, they expect their employers to deliver benefits and learning options that are tailored to their roles, responsibilities and learning styles.

Advancements in tech are making it possible to offer customized training options that go beyond just catering to an employee’s specific roles and individual responsibilities. AI-powered tech like facial recognition software is enhancing the online learning experience through being able to detect the mood of the learner. With this still relatively experimental technology, online courses can be customized to suit the stress-level of the participant. Other applications are capable of detecting how quickly respondents are answering questions and adjust the format of the questions based on their response rates. So, if a learner appears to be rushing through training questions, the course can automatically switch among multiple choice questions and written responses — talk about a personalized experience.

When it comes to attracting and retaining millennial talent, prioritizing learning and development is key, not only to encourage loyalty and motivation, but to generate long-term career development opportunities within your organization.