Copious research documents the fact that younger generations like to learn. After all, they grew up attending schools and college; learning is part of the way they interact with the world.
One major study from Gallup, “How Younger generations Want to Work and Live,” reports these findings:
- 60% of younger generations say that the opportunity to learn and grow on the job is extremely important. In contrast, only 40% of baby boomers feel the same way.
- 50% of younger generations strongly agree that they plan to remain in their jobs for at least the next year. That might sound like a big percentage, but 60% of members of all other groups plan to stay in place for at least a year. Baby boomers and others are planning on sticking around, while younger generations are weighing their options.
Findings like those document that younger generations are more likely to be engaged and to stay on their jobs if they can learn. Yet not all training takes place in a traditional classroom or corporate learning center. Here are some forms of training that appeal strongly to younger generation employees:
- Bite-sized training on mobile devices. I have observed that younger generations especially like training that is delivered to them on their phones. Even more so, they like training that is delivered in short sessions – the kind they can complete while at lunch, on break, or even at the gym.
- Mentoring relationships with supervisors. Gallup found that 60% of younger generations feel that the quality of the people who manage them is extremely important. With that in mind, your training for new employees can set up mentoring, not reporting, relationships between them and strategic managers. Explain how often check-ins and job reviews with their managers will happen, and what they will cover. (I am a firm believer in frequent check-ins between managers and the employees they supervise, not pro forma reviews that happen every so often.)
- Being part of an energized and innovative team. This is a bit of a contradiction, but at the same time younger generations think of themselves as individualist entrepreneurs, they also expect to be part of a great team. Letting younger generations get to know their teammates during training, and fostering a sense of team/group identity, can help convince them that they have joined the right organization.
Yes, training is important to younger generations. But I encourage you to think of it as more than a chance to teach skills. Younger generations are the most energized, skilled and capable generation ever to enter the workforce. Train them well and they will become your organization’s brightest future.