Millennials: How to train and manage a tech-savvy generation

by Nancy Owen, PHR

If you have done any hiring in the past decade, chances are you are managing some millennials. Also known as the Millennial Generation, Generation Y, Generation WE, The Boomerang Generation, and The Peter Pan Generation, they were generally born between 1980 and 2000. With some 75 million members, this generation will replace the Baby Boomers in the workforce.

Millennials have grown up in a society that is very different than that of any other generation. It’s no wonder they have different characteristics than the generation before them. In order to retain them, companies are finding it necessary to change the way they do business.

This generation has been using technology since they were infants. They are well-connected multitaskers and extremely technically savvy. They expect to have 6-8 careers in their lifetime. What they want out of their employer is instant gratification and recognition, a work life balance that is flexible to their needs, collaboration, transparency and career advancement.

Two companies in particular have been very successful in attracting millennials: Google and Apple. These technology giants are naturally innovative employers whose environments are not restrained with the old way of doing things.

Millennials have seen that corporate loyalty doesn’t necessarily bring rewards or long term security. Employers will need to work hard and do things that appeal to their needs in order to attract and retain this generation.

So how do you train the millennial generation? One of this generation’s greatest strengths is the knowledge of technology, so it only makes sense that technology is a great way to engage them.

Most training companies agree, millennials respond well to training based around visual stimuli, like infographics or multi-media presentations. For orientations and policy introductions, you may want to consider customizing your training to eLearning courses. This should better prepare them for their positions.

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Incorporate twitter or other chats into training sessions and have groups share the learning. Design eLearning that they can access from their computers, laptops or iPads as well as a mobile device to keep them motivated. Short how-to videos and scenario-based games have been proven to be successful, as well.

Millennials do not do well in a rigid environment. If you want to get the most out of them, don’t expect them to do things “the way they have always been done”. Offering some flexibility will encourage their growth. Because they are self-motivated, they prefer to be taught where to locate information or how to use a tool, rather than learn things they will not use right away.

They want to know what is expected of them. They want clear explanations and want to know how they will be evaluated and what criteria are used.

The millennial generation is far from complacent. They feel an urgency to acquire new skills through continuous learning. Organizations are more likely to see a low employee turnover rate if millennials are engaged with ongoing training. This is also likely to spike their productivity which will translate into higher profits for the company.

Lastly, this generation has zero tolerance for irrelevant content. The millennials have instant, access to millions of videos, articles and blog posts at almost no cost. Technology has trained them to skip whatever seems boring and irrelevant and to move on. Ensure your training content covers exactly what they need to know, and that it clearly communicates why they need to know it.

How do you manage millennials? Provide structure by having due dates daily, weekly and monthly. Make sure activities are scheduled. When having meetings supply agendas and meeting minutes or notes. It is important to state goals clearly and to regularly assess those goals.

Millennials want to look up to you. They want to learn from you and receive your daily feedback. You should plan to spend a lot of time teaching, mentoring and coaching them. It will be important that you are aware of this commitment when you hire them.

Millennials have a “can-do” attitude with a very positive self-image. They are very sure of themselves. Their parents told them they can do it and they know they can. But they will need encouragement from you.

 Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Millennials gather in groups and play on teams. They also like to work in groups or teams. They believe that the team can accomplish more by working together. Since they believe in and want team success, you can mentor, coach, and train your millennials as a team.

Employers will have much more to explore as this generation moves into the workplace. It is clear that the many differences in millennials’ skills and attitudes may present challenges to employers who aren’t ready for change.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this web site is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Use of and access to this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship between East Coast Risk Management or our employment attorney and the user or browser.

Nancy OwenNancy Owen is the newest member of the East Coast Risk Management HR team. She is a certified HR professional with over 20 years of experience in Human Resources. She is a Connecticut native now living in North Carolina and working with clients across the southeast. Nancy has spent her career developing and managing the HR functions for organizations in the IT, nonprofit, automotive, insurance and mortgage industries. She has played a key role in performance management, engagement, retention and reducing organizational risk.

If you would like to reach Nancy, or any other member of our HR team, please send an email to HRhelpline@eastcoastrm.com or call 877-864-3311.

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