Want to Keep Your Millennials? Then Train Them

Millennials want to leave their jobs. A report from Deloitte found that a majority expect to have new jobs in the next five years. Why? Leadership development has a lot do with it, the survey suggests.

Among employees who said they are likely to leave in the next two years, 71% say they are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed. Overall, 63% of millennials surveyed said their leadership skills aren’t being fully developed. Considering the fact that a majority of the workforce is made of millennials, that’s a major problem.

So where are employers going wrong? Here are a few ways to amp up leadership development to meet the needs of millennials and keep them around:

Offer leadership development at all levels

Millennials don’t want to wait around to eventually receive leadership training one day — they want it now. In fact, the most loyal employees in the Deloitte survey were more likely to agree that younger employees are actively encouraged to aim for leadership roles within their organization.

Leadership development shouldn’t be reserved for executives and senior management — it’s needed at all levels. Employees need to be trained before they take on leadership roles; development is just as important for mid- and low-level managers as it is for those in senior positions.

That doesn’t mean employees should receive leadership training once, right before they take on a new role; effective development is continual. To keep millennials around for the long-term, provide continual leadership development and training at every stage of their career. This way, millennials stay challenged and engaged, while the company benefits from better, well-prepared leaders.

Make it personal

Even when leadership training is offered to all employees, millennials just aren’t that into it. According to Workplace Trends’ 2015 Global Workforce Leadership survey, 39% of participating companies offer leadership development programs, but just 15% of employees felt they were effective.

Why do these programs miss the mark? They take a one-size-fits-all approach. Millennials crave training that targets their professional goals. They don’t want to waste their time on skills they’ve already mastered, or learning things that aren’t relevant to their career path.

Before getting started with leadership development, have employees take assessments to determine their goals and which skills their training should focus on. That way, their development can be personalized to meet their needs. With a focused, individualized approach, training becomes more effective, and more engaging.

Go mobile

You know employees are busy, stressed out, and that they want a better work-life balance. So where will they get the extra time to add leadership development to their packed schedules?

Effective training programs don’t have to require a huge time commitment. They should use tech to allow employees to access lessons, training materials, and resources at any time from any place. In other words, leadership development should be mobile.

According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, 85% of millennials access the internet from their phones — more than any other generation. Millennials are doing everything from reading up on news to managing their money, paying their bills, shopping, and planning vacations on the go. And when leadership development is mobile, it’s easier for employees to complete training without added stress.

With a mobile training solution, employees can read lessons on their train ride into work, read through comments from their coach during their lunch break, or review relevant resources before heading into a meeting. Millennials are a mobile generation, so look for leadership development technology that can meet their speed.

Don’t just train, coach

More than anything, millennials want feedback. In the Gallup survey, 44% of millennials who said their manager holds regular meetings with them are engaged, compared with just 20% of those who don’t meet with their managers regularly.

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How does this fit into leadership development? Employees need mentors and coaches to guide them through the process, give them feedback, and keep them focused and motivated. After all, 61% of millennials surveyed by Deloitte said that having somebody to turn to for advice and who helps develop their leadership skills is beneficial. What’s more, those who plan to stay with their employer for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor.

Give millennials the support and feedback they need through leadership mentors and coaches. Their mentor should check in with them regularly, offer advice, and give them insight into their progress.

Leadership training isn’t just a nice perk millennials want. It’s a critical part of their career development, job satisfaction, and loyalty to their employer. With better development, you not only get happier, more engaged employees, you get better leaders, too.

Have you updated your leadership training for millennials? How?

Thuy Sindell is founder and managing partner of Skyline Group International, Inc., and president of the coaching division, an executive coach, and author. The coaching division manages over 170 coaches, facilitators and consultants worldwide. Thuy's executive coaching experience spans over 15 years with companies across a number of different industries and sizes from technology to insurance and from start ups to Fortune 500.

Thuy is also the founder of two software start-ups; Hit the Ground Running (acquired by Kenexa) and Knowledge Genie. She co-authored four books -- Hidden Strengths. The End of Work as You Know It,  Job Spa, and Sink or Swim -- and blogs on Huffington Post and Psychology Today.

Thuy holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from Alliant International University.

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