Guest Editor - John F. Broer

We are locked in discussion about the millennials, what they offer, what they need and how to guide them in their career journeys. I’m reluctant to label any group based on a range of birthdates. At a basic level, the millennials are just the current “emerging workforce.” They possess unique qualities and characteristics related to work style, habits and needs from their professional pursuits. Like previous workforces, we must be aware of what drives them and influences their decisions.

Millennials tend to occupy positions only for a few years before moving on to a new opportunity. LinkedIn’s 2016 study shows that people graduating between 2006 and 2010 will average 2.85 jobs in a five-year period. Couple that with the “Silver Tsunami” that is upon us; where thousands of employees with extensive knowledge and experience are reaching retirement age every day. And they have something that is invaluable – wisdom. When this deep legacy knowledge walks out the door to start enjoying the fruits of a 401K, the emerging generation will look to the web and be found wanting. So, how do we bring these worlds together?

The internet provides us with a wealth of knowledge, but wisdom is entirely different. Look up definition of wisdom and you will find phrases like “soundness of action,” “good judgement,” and “enlightenment.” The aggregate investment to cultivate this wisdom in the business world is likely incalculable, but the expense of losing it forever is equally huge. So, what can we do to capture this wisdom from our exiting workforce and make it available to our emerging workforce? Organizations must find ways to engage our emerging workforce and create a setting where the exchange of information and the curation of wisdom is passed along.

Apprentice and Mentor

This is where mentoring can be of great benefit. Companies with well-orchestrated mentoring programs are intentional about how a mentor and apprentice are paired, how goals and expectations are managed, and when this relationship should conclude. In The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, when a mentoring program is in place, millennials report a positive impact 61 percent of the time in emerging economies and 52 percent in mature ones. Furthermore, millennials intending to stay with their organization for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. Based on that statistic, by pairing a millennial with a suitable mentor, you double the average time he or she is likely to stay with the company and reduce the high costs of replacing them.

Record Everything

Whether you have a studio or film crew, or simply a HD camcorder, webcam or smartphone to capture knowledge, these tools can create “snackable” content that can be cataloged and made available on demand to newer employees via their mobile and desktop devices. This is a practical way to bridge the gap between the wisdom that is preparing to walk out the door and making it available in a format consistent with how millennials prefer to learn.

Organizations can upload content to an existing LMS or place it on the company’s intranet. There are also technology disruptors that make it easy to capture your own content and make it readily available to your workforce via mobile device. These innovators have created a digital platform that puts company-specific content and videos in the palm of every employee’s hand.

Just think, if you could enlist your most experienced employees and record the most critical elements of a job or task, you could curate and catalog that into manageable “chunks” that newer employees can reference and watch at their time-of-need and point-of-need. These knowledge platforms change the profile of the LMS and provide a way to capture legacy knowledge and deliver it in a preferential way.