We already have at least four generations at work, but do they want anything other than their development?
Differences across generations and their impact on the workplace have been a longstanding and often controversial topic. One opinion in the academic press is that generations are completely different, each with defining characteristics and expectations for a working relationship.
The second opinion considers employees to be fairly general about what to expect from their jobs, but this varies by life and career. Meanwhile, the popular press focuses mostly on differences and warns of an impending generation gap. However, the lack of empirical evidence suggests that the latter estimate may be overestimating.
Regardless of which side of the dispute, the reality is that at least four generations constitute the current workforce.
Of these, millennials (born in the early 1980s and mid-1990s) are increasingly playing a leadership role
(1) and are expected to reach one-third of the global workforce by 2020
(2) Regarding staff/talent, organizations that wish to engage and retain talent and develop future leaders while promoting cohesion in the workplace must at least take into account possible generational variables.
Especially concerning millennials as future leaders of the organization and soon the largest demographic segment in the workplace. In this discourse, the main problem relates to the development of the learning landscape.
Is it growing fast enough to meet the demands of the workforce of many generations, and especially millennials? Are future leaders suitable? Are millennials distinctive of years difference in their training needs?
The latest survey of 19,000 millennials in 25 countries conducted by the Manpower Group shows interesting results. 93% of respondents define current skills development as important to their future career;
80% consider the opportunity to learn a new skill as a key factor in considering a new job, while 93% want lifelong learning and would use their own time and resources for further training.
Although full-time jobs are preferred, more than 50% are open to a variety of career paths in the future, from self-employment to careers in multi-job portfolios.
Additionally, respondents reported a desire to combine work and family life, and 84% wish they would take more career breaks along the way.
Recognition and validation are also important. 50% said they would choose to leave their job because of a lack of appreciation.
Deloitte’s latest millennial survey of 7,700 full-time graduates from 29 countries provides similar evidence for portfolio careers and a focus on employee growth and development.
However, the effects on leadership development are of particular concern for this study. The study reports that only 28% of Millennials believe they have full capacity in terms of skills.
While leadership is a valued skill or trait, it is believed to be underdeveloped after graduation and that companies are not doing enough to fill the void.
For example, nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said that their leadership skills were not fully developed, while 71% of those who are likely to leave their organization in the next two years are also dissatisfied with their leadership skills and competence.
Millennials also prefer to work in organizations whose grades match their own, with 56% not including having worked for organizations that are above their values or standards of behavior.
What does this mean and how has the company responded? While worrying, the leadership vacancies identified in the Deloitte study allow organizations with solid and “fair” employees and leadership development practices to attract and retain the best talent among the millennials in focus.
Of course, expanding management development on an organizational basis can help identify and build individual management capacities as well as collective management capacities within organizations.
While the risk of losing talent remains, investing early in leadership development builds loyalty and enhances the ability to re-engage employees later in their careers while reducing the woes millennials of their development experience.
Remote power is another major issue based on the above findings. To that end, Millennials want to be able to quickly and flexibly develop and adapt skills to respond to training that meets the demands of work and life.
As careerists in a portfolio, they value personalized training that provides them with the right knowledge and skills for the right purpose at the right time.
This implies a preference for accessible informal learning strategies over lengthy formal development programs. Organizations that successfully integrate learning into their daily work can benefit from casual learning and provide opportunities to share, explore, and experiment with new skills and behaviors.
Job rotation, expanding assignments with regular feedback, and coaching and guidance from older colleagues.
For example, Can help build new skills while meeting needs for recognition and validation so employees can expand their network and expand their skills and raise their profile in the organization.
We also know that technology generation loves the use of technology. For global organizations with geographically dispersed employees, the scope and scalability of online learning solutions help build a shared competency base and a shared understanding platform.
Moreover, a carefully designed digital learning strategy, built into a broader L&D strategy, takes learning beyond traditional approaches and places it firmly in people’s hands.
Access to relevant, timely, and concise learning via channels such as YouTube, iTunes U, and TED, which can be easily shared on mobile devices and via social channels such as Facebook or Twitter, enabling personalization and collaboration study work.
Other functions include access to free MOOCs from trusted sources, provision of general or specialized online training courses with up-to-date and work-oriented content, asynchronous computerized conferences, games, augmented reality, and much more.
When I thought about the above, I saw the feeling of déjà vu. While the focus and priority may vary, Millennials’ concerns don’t seem that different from my generation (Generation X), and the many students and colleagues I have worked within different age groups, experience levels, and cultures.
Also, the ideas I describe are not new. What has changed dramatically is the context and transformative impact of technology on the way we learn, live, and work.
The world is faster. Yet all of us are faced with the same technological advances and experience the same working pressures. Hence, what has worked for millennials will work for the rest of the workforce.
Then the message is, although we may have more in common than differences, organizations still need to review and diversify training proposals in a creative and thoughtfully.
This is an integrated way to keep pace with and make technological changes to attract the next generation of leaders and expand learning opportunities.
The L&D function that has done is on the curve. For some, however, this will require redesigning complex learning management systems, outdated teaching, and learning methods, and rethinking how best to use your L&D budget for more value and impact.