We've all heard the whiny millennial jokes: they are immature. Technology-dependent. Impatient.
But at the recent webinar, "5 Strategies for Engaging Millennials" in the Saba Summer School series, we learned that real-life millennials are far from their popular caricatures. Our presenters were Patrick Cournoyer, People Operations Executive, formerly of FlightCar and Shari Cruz, Learning and Development Leader, also formerly of FlightCar.
Patrick told us that 95 percent of the employees at FlightCar were millennials, so the company had to move quickly to create a learning strategy for the workforce (the founders were millennials themselves). FlightCar's leadership team found that millennials are actually socially engaged, team-oriented and driven by what's next.
A millennial herself, Shari found that she tested the FlightCar learning programs from both a creator standpoint (designing courses and gathering colleagues' feedback) and also evaluating them from the perspective of her generation (craving engagement; desiring feedback).
Patrick said that some people think the millennials' drive and ambition is a negative. "We really have found that to be fuel for ambition and growth," he notes.
Here are five key strategies from the webinar to help engage millennials in your organization.
Strategy #1: Provide meaningful work and a clear purpose
No matter what level, millennials need to make a difference. "In reality, we're a culture of immediate and constant reminders and [work] cannot be an exception to that," Shari said. "So the knowledge of how important [millennials] are and what difference they are going to make, that really has to be a part of their daily grind," Shari says.
Millennials are driven by:
- Feedback (Immediate, concise and relevant)
- Speaking Up (Give them avenues to voice their opinion)
- Key Player (They want to be on teams and make a difference)
- Constant engagement (What can they do next?)
Encourage a core culture based on teams and social interaction. This will improve your bench strength by identifying talent outside of your local area.
Strategy #2: Rock mobile access
No surprise here, millennials are mobile savvy, engaging with smartphones and tablets throughout their day. So, create opportunities to engage via mobile platforms. Also, provide operational technology on mobile devices. FlightCar's entire customer interaction was on an iPad, and their internal training courses were, too. When downtime came at the FlightCar locations, employees could login and complete training requirements on company iPads. The FlightCar team noted that employees didn't need to "lock themselves into an office or learning lab" to complete their required learning assignments.
Strategy #3: Foster a culture of feedback
Millennials don't need a lot of hand-holding, but they do like to be acknowledged for their contributions. At the webinar, we learned a sincere "thank you" goes a long way. Present feedback to millennials as "opportunities for growth," rather than constructive criticism, which Patrick notes can be a turn-off for this generation.
While formal performance reviews have their place in many organizations, our presenters urged managers to consider ramping up feedback to millennials who thrive on it. Consider daily check-ins as one way to connect with your team.
When it comes to feedback, millennials can offer relevant and specific feedback that provides your organization's leadership with a difference perspective. The more feedback your organization provides to the millennials, the more they feel they are an integral part of the company.
Strategy #4: Dive into micro-learning
On the webinar, we learned that spending months creating perfect 30-minute-long training modules is a mistake. Instead, aim for quick-turn 10-minute microlearning courses. Millennials can login and do these shorter courses from their phones. Create content that's interesting (games, anyone?), motivating and use quick learning "check-ins" rather than one long slog of a test at the end.
Strategy #5: Invest in future growth by providing a clear path
It's true; millennials do job hop a good bit. Retain your millennials by showing them a clear path to career advancement. Create a "foreseeable plan" with short increments for success. Develop quick growth steps so your employees can achieve success along the way. FlightCar used a career-training program called "Managers in Development" to equip younger employees who did not have managerial experience. The four-phase program led to a position as a Station Manager.
Of course, a clear career path doesn't mean a promotion every Friday, but do make sure to show the millennials how to move through their tasks; how they relate to the company's success; and then how they can move forward in the organization.
Every generation has certain characteristics. We hope this webinar showed you how to approach the millennials in your
office or organization. We'll see you at the next Saba webinar!