Millennials, also known as Generation Y, now comprise half of the workforce. Millennial employees have a different set of workplace values than those of previous generations. They look for work-life balance, appreciation from management, and a chance to grow and learn at their company. Companies that want to attract and retain a better workforce of millennial employees must provide them with the tools to continue their professional development.
Millennials expect to have non-linear, episodic careers, and employment trends back up this expectation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current median tenure for American workers aged 25 and over is about five years, which means millennials may not be as invested as their Generation X counterparts in staying with one or two companies throughout their entire careers.
As such, millennials look for the opportunity to learn new skills and hone the ones they already have. Ignoring this desire during the recruiting stage can cost a company some valuable candidates. Millennials may reject job offers from companies who fail to offer opportunities to learn new skills, according to a 2019 PricewaterhouseCooper survey. Companies can avoid this potential pitfall by taking emphasis off “climbing the corporate ladder” when recruiting and highlighting opportunities for continual development instead.
Continual learning is a major selling point for many millennials. In Gallup’s report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, 87 percent of millennials responded that professional development is “very important” to them.
According to this report, “Millennials are not pursuing job satisfaction — they are pursuing development. Giving out toys and entitlements is a leadership mistake, and worse, it’s condescending. Purpose and development drive this generation and those who manage millennials must understand this if they are to effectively lead them.”
Millennials may reject job offers from companies who fail to offer opportunities to learn new skills.
Millennials value a positive, enriching relationship with their managers, which gives managers a critical role in retaining the millennial workforce. To help retain millennial employees, assist your managers with tips on how to coach their younger employees.
When leading millennials, managers should remember the following “Three Fs”:
- Flexibility: Their coaching approach will vary depending on the employee. Managers should consider an individual’s learning style and their performance level to help craft their coaching style.
- Frequency: Managers should have weekly meetings to work on specific skills to help their new employees build their confidence.
- Feedback: When feedback is given with the right intentions, it will provide positive results, boost morale and transform new employees into excellent employees.
Keep in mind, managers are not teachers or tutors; it is unreasonable to ask managers to build a curriculum for supplemental, voluntary development. In employee development, managers should be touchstones and guides, not navigators.
Instead, managers should point millennials towards the company’s resources for self-directed learning/development and allow them to navigate those resources according to their needs. For an in-depth look at employee self-directed learning, check out the previous installment in our “Guide to Building a Better Workforce” series, Part Five: Microlearning.
Want to make your entire workforce better, not just the millennials? Download our Ultimate Guide to Building a Better Workforce.