HR's Role In Mentoring And Coaching Millennials For Growth And Success

Organizational Culture
Published on
January 12, 2016

Millennials are unlike any other generation, and the gap between their needs and the techniques offered to help them develop is widening. Overall, Today's talented young up-and-coming professionals have radically different ideas of their career paths, as well as the concepts of loyalty and stability, than any earlier generations. Understanding this and implementing programs to attract, retain, and develop this generation of young professionals.  

Consider this: over the next 30 - 40 years, Millennials will account for the majority of the workforce. But as the baby boomer generation retires, so does the vast amount of knowledge they have accumulated, and Millennials will find themselves ill-equipped to carry on heirloom or industry-specific practices. However, knowledge is no different than any other commodity. There is always supply and demand, and finding the balance of input and output is critical for sustaining a business and maintaining momentum.


Conceptualizing the Challenge: Adapting HR to a Millennial Market

Part of that success plan is developing a mentoring platform. Why? Many companies will look to traditional ways to learn through boring training programs, which millennials will tune out. When companies only consider the most cost-effective ways, they risk spending more when the previous system fails to deliver results. That being said, HR managers should not make the mistake of looking at the solution first. Instead, identify the source of the demand and determine how to transfer the supply of knowledge to the best. It means building out processes based on the needs and wants of millennials, which can be counterintuitive for many companies as changing existing HR policies can be more trouble than it seems worth.

Furthermore, many managers feel that employees should adapt to what is in place; why change the status quo for a new hire? As someone who has run companies and managed thousands over the years, I understand this mentality. You build something that works, so why change it? The answer is simple: it works until it doesn't. Adapting is how companies survive. Taking the "you're lucky that we hired you; now do it our way" mentality will lead to failure, considering the issue is not with an individual but with an entire generation. Companies will need to adapt and change the way they onboard new hires and, as necessary, continue the knowledge supply chain after that.

Communication is The Key

HR leaders will need to understand how millennials think, act, and most importantly, communicate. Due to differing communication and learning styles, Millennials require a new HR model altogether, which requires rapid innovation in the space to adapt. After all, talent gravitates towards creation and stays much longer when satisfied. A critical difference between this generation and the past has been the use of technology. Even with my own three millennials - two 19-year-olds and a 16-year-old - the primary method of communication has been texting or messaging.

As they're constantly on their mobile devices, catering to their on-demand world, everything is measured in how effortless an interaction is. The reality is that getting things done this way can be both faster and more efficient for all parties. Attracting top talent Today means being able to communicate with them using the tools they are accustomed to. Millennials are more comfortable sending texts, emails, using messaging services, and just about anything mobile than any other generation. HR managers will need to find ways to adapt their processes.

Keeping Them Around: Retention and Loyalty

Attracting talent is just one of the issues; Today, retaining talent is where all hell breaks loose. Job hopping has become a sport for the millennial generation. It can be viewed in many ways. Most people tend to say millennials are not loyal. However, I believe that they are simply looking for a place that gives them the best opportunity and sure conforms to a certain extent to their preferences. Stability to a millennial is very different than a baby boomer. Knowledge, not a paycheck, is what creates stability for a millennial. Understanding this and building a mentoring and learning program will help attract and retain top talent. Today's young professionals have a new, technology-enabled outlook on job tenure  

"Employers should not be afraid that such practices will cost them employees; on the contrary, employee development decreases job search behaviors and boosts organizational commitment. Employees crave development, especially assignments that offer clear responsibility and accountability for a project and visibility to and support from senior managers. Organizations that are ready to give young professionals these forms of development will be the most likely to attract and keep them."

HR managers need to find ways to develop these young up-and-coming professionals. Considering that mentoring and training are the two of the most important factors to a millennial, it's critical to keep in mind that during the hiring process, a millennial is interviewing the company just as much as the company is questioning the millennial.  

These new workers want to know how they will be developed, which is no different from walking into a gym and asking the trainers how they plan to train you. Millennials want to make sure that there are mentoring and training programs to absorb the knowledge already in the ecosystem. As most companies were built by and for baby boomers, the recent demographic shift puts millennials in charge, meaning new rules and adaptations will be critical to attract and retain the right talent. Platforms like MentorCloud are not tools but investments in an employee's longevity, and our clients' proven 6 - 7x ROI confirms that the system is working. Making changes to processes includes addressing the top and bottom lines, so your company is already at a disadvantage without tools to engage both.


Connecting with the On-Demand Generation

Millennials are the On-Demand Generation and want everything now. Offering a mentoring platform like MentorCloud helps them take control of their learning and growth while interfacing with intelligent, thoughtful leaders within your organization. Millennials will be able to get the knowledge they desire in a format they are used to. Keep in mind that they learn is very social, so ensuring that you have a social platform like MentorCloud is also critical. When a millennial logs into a system, they want a seamless experience that looks and feels like everything else they do. This platform is built from the ground up with this in mind. While it is a powerful social learning platform, it captures the fun and ease of popular social networking sites. Innovative HR leaders add or upgrade to systems like MentorCloud, as it's simple to set up and can be ready to use in less than two weeks. The bigger question is, "are the HR managers within companies engaged to begin with?" It is a losing battle if they are not engaged and unwilling to look at innovative ways to onboard and train employees. Deloitte recently commissioned a study on HR business leaders, and it resulted in some scary statistics:

  • Only 22% of business leaders feel HR is adapting to the changing needs of their workforce.
  • Only 20% feel HR can adequately plan for the company's future talent needs.

While the figures are alarming, they may alter the public view. Partnering with MentorCloud can aid in the transformation of a company's culture from one of stagnation to one of engagement.

In Summary

As they say, it all starts from within. Leadership needs to ensure that the right HR managers are in tune with the next generation of leaders. These managers need to be innovative, willing to take control, able to find tools like MentorCloud, and excited about implementing them for the better of the company. We believe all HR managers have the best interest of their company; it is just a matter of what they do to show it.  

Once a company has these pieces in place, the focus shifts to onboarding and adapting the processes for learning and development to achieve success with the millennial generation. It is not rocket science, but it does take engaged HR managers to see the future and adapt now before it is too late. Happy employees have engaged employees, and they are much more efficient and productive. MentorCloud can help a company on its path to becoming a Top 10 place to work.

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