Professional Development for Millennials: If You Don’t Engage, Somebody Else Will
Professional development for Millennials is extremely important. In fact, 91% of Millennial professionals think career progression is the top priority. Besides rapid progression and formal plans for their career development, research also reveals that Millennials value regular formal feedback from their employer. 60% of Millennials surveyed said that they would like to receive formal feedback every one to three months, but 38% reported that they only actually received feedback once a year at best.
It’s time employers stop blaming millennial turnover on issues of entitlement, ego or impatience and instead look at what these workers want and what you have to offer them. Instead, let’s look at and accept what millennial workers want since they will be the majority of the workforce (51%) in 2020.
For organizations curious as to how best include and improve their company’s professional development for Millennials they should keep in mind the following- Millennials enter the workforce wanting guidance, a job, a flexible work schedule, AND a company they’re passionate about.
1. Flexible Hours, Personal Days And Remote Work
Consider if strict requirements to be in the office are necessary for your business. Instead, you may want to gauge employees by the quality of their work and whether they’re completing tasks and projects in a timely manner. Try giving your employees “general” working hours and/or the ability to work remotely and measure if productivity and loyalty increases.
In addition, not having lenient personal or sick days is a job deal-breaker for many. If it’s too difficult to take time off, 64 percent of millennials polled in the aforementioned survey said they would quit their job. So, make sure your company walks-the-talk on encouraging paid leave time to be used.
2. Clear Career Progression And Support
In addition to pay and benefits, Millennial professionals expect their employer to be able to outline how their career with the company can develop and specific skills and experience their employer can help them attain. But be wary of career pathing. Creating a set plan or “career path” that envisions how an employee grows at your company is too rigid. Changes occur in organizations and it’s best to avoid promising anything that you might later have to retract.
The other issue is that your Millennial employee may change their mind and desire to go in a different direction, so flexible development plans are important. Millennials are used to a personalized experience from playlists to newsfeeds, according to a study by EY (formerly Ernst & Young).This personalization is increasingly expected as Millennials navigate learning and development within companies. They want a learning tool that is personalized to their interests—a platform that serves up customized learning pathways to help them acquire the skills to achieve their goal or solve a problem in the moment of need.
In addition as more Millennials become managers, groom them with the skills they’ll need for success. Consider 18-month promotions, where the next career jump is chosen one year into the current position. This way, each employee has six months to start learning the new job after they’ve achieved mastery in their current position.
3. Continuous Feedback
60% of Millennials surveyed said that they would like to receive formal feedback every one-to-three months, but 38% reported that they only actually received feedback once a year at best. It’s not that Millennials necessarily need frequent attention, but they do value growth. Millennials started the movement for more regular feedback as opposed to the annual performance review. They’re used to receiving real-time social media updates, thus possess the need for instant gratification and communication in the workplace.
Instead of career pathing, train your managers to be good coaches. According to an Interact and Harris Poll survey,69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their direct reports and 37% of managers struggle with giving direct feedback about employee performance, particularly if the employee might respond negatively. Moreover, a Gallup study found that employees who are supervised by a highly engaged manager are 59% more likely to be engaged. Companies need to train leaders to be better equipped to communicate, mentor, inspire, and authentically care about their employees.
Managers’ job descriptions need to include career counseling. We need to give “live” feedback in the moment to help people grow. Don’t wait to give valuable information via email, talk to them instead. When you withhold feedback, you are doing your employees a disservice and blocking them from growing. It’s also important to make sure your feedback is actionable. Rather than saying “you’re not good at X,” you should rephrase this to “in order to reach this outcome, these are the two areas to work on and here’s how.”
Rather than wait for employees to leave and conduct exit interviews, managers should conduct regular “stay interviews” instead. They should take the time to go to coffee and truly learn about their employees’ desires for growth. Managers should ask: “What do you want in your career, what do you want to learn, and how can I help you achieve this?” If managers truly listen to their employees’ needs, people will immediately feel their managers care. The cost to do this is virtually nothing.
4. A Company to be Proud to Work For
For many millennials, professional development goes hand-in-hand with engagement.
According to “The Frustrating World of Employee Engagement,” the acronym MAGIC represents five key engagement metrics an organization should invest in:
- Do your employees have meaning in their work?
- Do employees have autonomy in their jobs?
- Are your people growing?
- Does your talent have impact on the organization in the work that they do?
- Do employees feel connection with the organization?
Build Employee Goals Around Their Strengths, Interests, and Preferences
Millennials desire a purposeful work experience. Build employee goals around their strengths, interests, and preferences and demonstrate how their goals contribute to the organizations success. Millennials love to learn. Involve employees from day one on their learning plan. In today’s corporate climate, businesses that don’t value the incoming generation of workers are setting themselves up for failure. After all, if a company’s most important asset is its workforce (and many would argue that it is), then companies need to be evolving to meet the needs of the new generation. Otherwise, you can expect an employee turnover nightmare, exorbitant hiring costs and difficulty executing a long-term strategy.