Millennials on both ends of the age spectrum have grown up with limitless access to information, which has gradually created a culture of self-directed learning through content such as blog posts and YouTube videos. This practice has carried over to the workplace, where successful managers are adapting by using a new breed of learning management systems (LMS) that better aligns with how millennials educate both themselves and their peers.
Millennial employees want to know what they are doing and why they are doing it. To capitalize and instill passion in these life learners, businesses need to create a self-sustaining culture of learning and development. To capture the mindshare of these employees, the LMS must be employee-driven, and subject matter should be user-generated. However, it is impossible to create a learner-centric company culture without a healthy dose of employee engagement. In order to increase employee engagement, you must tap into the millennial mindset and understand what keeps them motivated.
If you are a manager who would like to better train, educate and develop your staff in a meaningful way, here are the three key things that millennials want you to know:
Knowledge Was Power
For millennials, transparency is a prerequisite for feeling motivated to learn and develop their talents. The Industrial Age management model was to hoard and leverage knowledge in order to exert power over employees. Conversely, millennials today tend to respond well to the freedom of information and knowledge. Transparency paired with access creates the “always-on” learning process that they need.
By being more transparent about the status, goals and vision of your organization (both in the long and short term), your employees will become more engaged, and therefore feel more motivated to both learn and teach each other on a consistent basis.
Don’t Ban The Personal Brand
A pillar of millennial culture is life-documentation via social media. Work life becomes a huge part of their digital persona. They often consider their job role, company’s positioning and corporate culture as a source of pride. Millennials inherently want to advocate for your business online, and when acting on behalf of your brand out in the “digital field,” they will gain valuable experience in areas like customer service, sales and marketing.
By incorporating your employees’ personal brands as a part of your daily workflow, you will facilitate more regular employee development, and personal brand building can then turn into performance gains.
They Surf the Grounds Well
For millennials, learning doesn’t come from the top down, it comes from the bottom up. They trust group-verified information and popular opinion (Yelp, TripAdvisor, social media), before the opinions of power structures that they view as isolated and arbitrary. Employee contributions to your learning curriculum (an employee-driven learning economy) leads to better adoption, faster development, greater colleague support and better team performance. Learning for millennials is more effective when both the content and experiences are user-generated. As a manager, millennials primarily want you to help them help each other.
Millennials are more receptive to subject matter and learning content that is being proposed by their peers rather than management. This is because they can identify with and relate to the challenges that their coworkers face on a daily basis in a tangible way.
Teams that are constantly learning and developing their talents will thrive in diverse and always-evolving environments. Training, educating and developing employees on subject matters such as diversity and inclusion, disabilities compliance, sales and customer service development, corporate culture, veterans in the workplace and leadership development is becoming increasingly important to not only enterprise corporations, but also to startups and small businesses.
Furthermore, at all levels of business, attracting, retaining and developing top talent is one of the biggest challenges that organizations face today. Ultimately, what management teams just might find is that implementing a learning and talent development initiative, designed by millennials, for millennials, can be a benefit to both their company culture and bottom line.