27 Nov 2017

Getting the most from your Millennial workforce through modern training and policies

Surpassing baby boomers as the largest living generation, Millennials will be critical for filling the employment gap. Not only this, but they are widely recognised as the most able generation to drive change and are the fastest to adapt to new technology and business systems. As well as being the largest group within the workforce, they will become the biggest consumer group within the next few years, too. To secure, train and retain the best talent, it’s important to understand who Millennials are and what motivates them.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are typically those born between the mid-1980s and early 2000s. Like all other generations, the technology and culture surrounding their upbringing uniquely affects their attitude to life. Millennials grew up in an increasingly digital and connected world, with very different social abilities and attitudes to the generations that came before. They are typically very creative, technologically savvy, practical, results-oriented, team-oriented, adventurous and eager to learn. They differ from previous generations in that they do not have an unwavering belief that hard work is its own reward, typically looking for ways to streamline and uncomplicate processes – which can be a huge boon in itself.

Just like Millennials, the world of work has changed as we have entered the conceptual age.

What is the conceptual age?

The conceptual age has come on the back of the digital revolution, which brought about the ‘Age of the Idea’. Just as machines brought us from the Agricultural Age into the Industrial Age, and computers brought us into the Information Age from the Industrial Age, the age of cloud-based technology and full creative freedom has brought us firmly into the Conceptual Age. Whereas in the 1950s-1990s companies were looking for employees who could understand their job role, specialise and follow the company line, modern businesses and industries not only want but need employees who can act independently, creatively and imaginatively. They need to be able to innovate and create, not just serve their immediate superior. A company’s lifeblood comes from its ability to iterate and innovate faster than the competition. This means that everyone from the janitor to the CFO needs to have their eye on the ball and be willing to contribute ideas as well as effort.

But why should they?

It’s one thing to have employees who are constantly trying to improve and streamline the business in which they’re employed. It’s quite another to actually motivate them to do it. According to the Gallup employee engagement survey, only 29% of Millennials feel engaged with their workplace in terms of emotional and behavioural connection to the company. A further 16% of Millennials are actively disengaged, meaning that they are actively trying to leave the company and have no real interest in its success or failure.

The majority of Millennials, a whopping 55%, do not feel engaged and are the leading generation in this category. Gallup has stated that a lack of Millennial engagement costs the US economy $30.5 billion each year. So why do so many feel disenchanted? Even in jobs with good perks, good pay and a good social status?

Well, the answer can be derived from a few short statistics.

– 64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year in a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they don’t.
– 64% of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year in a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they don’t.

– 84% of Millennials say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition
– 92% of Millennials believe that business success should be measured by more than just profit

Training, Training, Training

Millennials report a lack of company support for training and development as the primary shock of starting work in the real world. What training they do receive is described as theory-oriented, expensive, boring and a certification stack-up. These may sound like the ‘whining of youth’, but this ineffective training costs businesses $13.5 million per year per 1000 employees.

Updating Training to the 21st Century

So, with companies having access to such a creative, innovative workforce and yet failing to take advantage of them with engaging, Millennial-oriented training – how can they activate their company ‘turbo-mode’, engaging and bringing to life their Millennial workforce?
Any Millennial training program should contain:
Mentoring and Coaching – Instead of merely having a superior as a boss to be obeyed, Millennials actively seek out mentors and coaches to learn from. Millennials thirst for professional development from a ‘real’ source, not just a theory-oriented approach.
Regular and structured feedback – For both training and on-the-job learning, feedback is a big drive for the Millennial workforce, both statistical and non-statistical.
Promote continuous learning – Millennials expect to keep learning as they enter the workplace and spend a high proportion of their time gaining new experiences and absorbing new information. They are attracted to employers who offer excellent training and development programmes.
Next-Gen Training Programs – Online learning modules, webinars, interactive game-play and cloud-based learning are all vital. Two-way training is very attractive, whereas one-way training such as lectures are perceived as archaic and unimaginative.
Workplace behaviour and culture training – Millennials are accustomed to instant responses to electronic messages in the modern age, whereas older workers may not treat messages with the same urgency. This generation gap should be addressed in training.
Customised training – There is no one-size-fits-all approach to training that has any kind of large success. Facilitators need to be able to implement training in a number of surroundings and with groups of varied sizes.

So, I need updated training. What kind of new training is there?

Gamification is currently one of the most promising and results-oriented methods of training more technology-focused, creative staff. It works on the premise of adding typical elements of gaming such as point-scoring and rules of play to other areas of activity – in this case staff training.

Gamification is fully interactive, meaning that employees not only listen to and regurgitate information but fully immerse themselves in the training to develop their creativity, ability to improvise, ability to innovate and expand their knowledge of various areas of business. This makes them valuable, well-rounded employees who have an increased loyalty to the business and the brand.

A great example of this is the WYN game ‘Up in the Air’, which has a group of employees take part in a business simulation where the participants will learn to thrive in the trials and tribulations of an air-travel start-up. It includes setting up and organising the business, investigating how to best cater to rapidly changing market needs, planning operations with limited resources, handling emergency situations, leadership insights and much more.

All of this would be far too much to inclu de in a book or seminar that could be read/listened to within that timeframe, but actively being involved trains multiple skill areas at once and allows employees to build a wide range of skills in an environment which excites and motivates them. It also functions as a significant team-building exercise, so the benefits are widespread.
These games can also be targeted at specific departments, such as the Grab @ Pizza game which trains IT departments in Business IT Alignment, or Ocean’s 99 which acts as a highly adaptable cybersecurity and resilience training course.

So, what’s next?

After Millennials are coming Generation Z – those who were born after 2010. By the time they reach the workplace, it will already have changed drastically. Time will tell what their contribution will be, but all the signs point to gamification retaining its place as the most effective training device. As for the generation after? Who can tell. All we can do is what we have always done – innovate, iterate, and adapt to what comes next.

About WYN:

WYN specializes in creating high impact learning solutions that builds technical and core capabilities and transforms organisations and its people. To know more, reach us at info@wynsimulations.com


1. Gallup Survery: 2016-How_Millennials_Want_To_Work_And_Live-Abridged.pdf
2. Millennial Mindset Study 2015
3. A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the Future is a book by Daniel H. Pink
4. Inc.com Statistics: https://www.inc.com/gordon-tredgold/29-surprising-facts-about-millennials-and-what-motivates-them.html


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