More than anything else, today’s employees want autonomy. The primary motivator for the merging millennial workforce is freedom and flexibility to not only develop their skills, but also their interests. In an environment where millennials are rapidly becoming the majority of the employable population, it is essential to establish a work environment that encourages the type of development millennials seek.
Companies are now more uniquely equipped than ever to provide their staff with the resources to take charge of professional and personal development. The growing array of e-learning software offers staff members the freedom to further their skills and knowledge in the areas that interest them and can ultimately benefit the company.
Why development matters
Employers may not initially see the value in encouraging personal development in their employees. Some may even find it counterproductive to provide resources for their workers to develop skills and competencies outside the scope of their immediate workplace responsibilities. However, facilitating employee development creates benefits not only for staff members, but for management and the company as a whole.
As HR magazine reports, employees are increasingly favoring personal development as a workplace benefit over other types of benefits, such as career development. Especially in recent years, there has been a growing tension in regards to the amount employers continue to offer such services. Unfortunately for employers, this disparity is starting to have wider-reaching and more noticeable effects. HR magazine’s data indicated that 46 percent of employees surveyed indicated that their next job move would more likely than not be to a different company. However, workers surveyed noted that they would be more likely to stay with a company that provided sufficient opportunities for personal development.
Digital technology offers new ways for companies to provide opportunities without having to spend time and resources hosting formal training sessions. Fortunately, many members of the younger generation have adapted to modern technology trends, and will have a much easier time adopting in this regard. Online training platforms are great tools for reaching millennials on a level with which they’re inherently more comfortable, making use of their existing technology habits to encourage development that will pay dividends in the workplace.
Cloud-based learning solutions synergize well with the near-constant connectivity of the digital-native generation, as online courses and learning materials can be accessed from anywhere, not just at work. The completely self-directed nature of such learning solutions means that employees are expanding their knowledge and skill set solely out of interest rather than obligation, and as a result, engagement is higher. In fact, WorkForce magazine indicated that companies can use such systems to identify employees that could potentially make strong management material, by looking not just at who has developed the most skills, but who demonstrates a high level of engagement and who is proactive in pursuing self-directed learning.
Of course, older employees and non-millennials may find the shift to a more worker-directed approach to career development jarring. Previous paradigms have focused on organizational guidance and clear charting of career paths. Putting development responsibility in the hands of the employees may be perceived as counter intuitive. However, this hump can be overcome by demonstrating the value such programs provide. Highlighting the flexibility of learning management systems (LMS), the benefits they can offer and the convenience with which they can be accessed can be a motivator. Also be sure to celebrate internal success stories – employees who have proactively steered their own development.
Another major trend in technology is a greater focus on social media, as well as mobile integrations in work flow. In a world of mobility and convenience, companies are now starting to make their employees lives easier by creating greater accessibility. Files, messaging and projects can all be done through mobile.