Gen Why - Michelle Eggleston

With the ever-increasing speed of business, organizations must leverage technology and social tools to keep pace. While technology allows us to do more in less time, there is a breakdown in human connection and collaboration occurring due to our reliance on technology. Insightful conversations are being downsized to quick, to-the-point email exchanges and networking today consists of adding connections to your LinkedIn profile. The workplace is changing and organizations must respond accordingly to not only attract, but retain top talent.

Today’s millennial workforce craves communication, collaboration and real-time connectivity in order to feel engaged and motivated in an organization. These facts were reinforced by recent survey findings conducted by youearnedit.com. Integrating these core values into learning initiatives can increase employee engagement and drive business value. Companies with highly engaged employees report lower turnover rates and higher productivity and performance.

COMMUNICATION 

The way we communicate in the workplace has changed dramatically over the past decade. Despite the surge in technology use and the shorthand, emoticon-driven communication style we have adopted to say more in less characters, employees still want authentic conversations. They want to feel like they are contributing to the business and they want consistent feedback on that contribution. In fact, the research suggests that 97 percent of respondents believe real-time feedback from peers and leaders was equal to, and in some cases, more important than formalized annual performance reviews.

Traditional feedback models are no longer cutting it with the millennial generation. Increasing the frequency of feedback and customizing it to the individual when possible is necessary to motivate and support the development of today’s employees.

COLLABORATION 

Collaboration is a key contributor to business performance. High performance organizations leverage teamwork to efficiently reach shared goals. But in order for your workforce to run as a well-oiled machine, employees must believe in their leaders as well as their peers. Building a foundation of trust and comradery requires team members getting to know one another and setting clear expectations.

Promoting more opportunities to exchange ideas and work together can foster a culture of collaboration. After all, great ideas can manifest in the most unlikely places. For example, my company often uses “get in the green” sessions to brainstorm ideas for projects. These meetings are used to generate creative, outside-the-box ideas from team members who may not have been involved in the project. The goal is to establish an open forum where team members are encouraged to share ideas without criticism.

CONNECTION

After spending 40-plus hours each week with our co-workers, it’s little wonder that our peers have a substantial impact on our engagement levels at work. In fact, the research suggests that great co-workers had the biggest impact on personal engagement at work over the past six months. Leveraging employee connection can transform learning and development and enhance the flow of information across the organization.

Mentoring and peer-to-peer learning are emerging as effective ways to train today’s workforce. With upward of 90 percent of learning occurring through informal and social means, as suggested by the 70-20-10 framework, organizations must harness the insight and information of employees to effectively transfer knowledge. This not only connects employees, but also captures company knowledge.

TRAINING TODAY’S WORKFORCE 

Investing in your employees’ development is critical to retaining them. As workplace dynamics continue to evolve and shift, training strategies must follow suit. Today’s workplace is driven by passionate employees who want to make a difference. Leveraging this passion in a meaningful way can enhance innovation and inspire employees to think outside the box.

Even with the onset of new technology, employees want an authentic connection with their leaders and peers. This connection can engage and motivate your employees to reach and exceed your business goals.

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