Millennials are a very different breed than any other generation, and the gap is widening between the needs of this generation and the practices that are being offered to further their development. 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 being able to implement programs to attract, retain, and develop this generation of young professionals is critical.
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 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 methods to accomplish knowledge-sharing through boring training programs, to which millennials will simply tune out. When companies only consider the most cost-effective methods, they actually run the risk of 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 best transfer the supply of knowledge to them. This 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 important, continue the knowledge supply chain thereafter.
Communication is The Key (And The Lock)
HR leadership will need to understand just how millennials think, act, and most importantly, communicate. Due to differing communication and learning styles, Millennials require a new model of HR altogether, which requires rapid innovation in the space to be able to adapt. After all, talent gravitates towards innovation, and stays much longer when satisfied.
A key 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 easy and 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 and 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. This 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 around this will help attract and retain top talent. Today’s young professionals have a new, technology-enabled outlook on job tenure and job searching. How do you retain this group of employees? MIT Sloan studies suggest that new developmental practices are essential.
"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 interviewing the millennial. These new workers want to know how they are going to be developed, which is no different than 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 in order to absorb the knowledge that is 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 correct talent. Platforms like MentorCloud are then not tools, but investments in the longevity of an employee, and our clients’ proven 6 - 7x ROI confirms that the system is working. Making changes to processes includes addressing both the top and bottom lines, so without tools to engage both, your company is already at a disadvantage.
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 the way 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 in which it looks and feels like everything else they do. MentorCloud was 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?” If they themselves are not engaged and are unwilling to look at innovative ways to onboard and train employees, then it is a losing battle. 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 numbers are horrifying, we believe the perception can be changed. Partnering with MentorCloud can help transform a company to a culture of engagement and not stagnation.
As they say, it all starts from within. Leadership needs to ensure that they have the right HR managers in place who 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, then the focus shifts to onboarding and adapting the processes for learning and development in order to achieve success with the millennial generation. This 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.