If you work in Learning & Development, you’re probably feeling the pressure.
L&D received a net-promoter score of -8, which is as about as low as you can go, in Deloitte’s most recent survey of over 700 business and HR professionals.
If you’re in the field, you can guess the reasons for the unhappiness. Most corporate learning programs are built on out-dated LMS’s and deliver content in a way that no longer reflects people’s learning preferences. And that’s before we even start to talk about the content itself. When you can find almost anything you want to know online, content needs to be extremely rich and relevant to have any kind of value.
To compound the issue, at the same time as many companies are realising that their LMS’s can’t deliver the curated digital experience employees expect, the need for corporate learning is increasing. In fact, Deloitte Human Capital Trends’ latest research identifies ‘reinventing careers and learning’ as the second-biggest issue for business. Organisations are waking up to the fact that they can’t attract – or retain – talented people unless they offer better opportunities for growth and career development.
Of course, this isn’t news to 2000 Mondays. Our founder saw the writing on the wall a few years back, when she was running a search business that focussed on millennial talent. Having met with thousands of candidates in their 20s, Melissa realised that what the emerging generation wanted wasn’t a ‘great job’ so much as to join an organisation that valued personal and professional growth and invested in learning.
So, what can L&D to improve its relevance and start delivering on everyone’s expectations?
Our key recommendations would be to:
- Get clear on the potential that learning offers beyond compliance and technical training. Work closely with HR, for example, to tap into broader organisational pain points such as retaining millennial talent
- Accept that one LMS might not meet all your needs. For example, a PC-based system might work fine for desk-bound workers, but if you have field-based or retail workers, it’s close to useless.
- Invest in systems that can tailor learning pathways to individual employees and collect data about their progress. The efficiencies and information such systems deliver will make it much easier to build business cases for future learning interventions.
If your organisation is struggling to attract, retain and engage millennial talent, you need to tackle the situation head on. The generation born in the 80s and 90s are becoming the primary working generation.
The generation known for being creative, adaptive and tech-savvy isn’t happy with what most employers are offering. According to Gallup research, they rank opportunities to learn and grow in a job above all other considerations. And they don’t think they’re getting these opportunities.
So, what can you do?
Start talking – and listening
Annual performance discussion that focus on the past are largely a waste of time. Millennials want regular feedback, when it matters. And they want to talk about the future. Equip your managers to have regular career conversations with their people, and make sure they understand that these conversations aren’t optional.
Be more creative
Once managers understand what people want, they need to figure out how to give it to them. Promoting people isn’t the only way to challenge them. Managers need to come up with creative ways to provide development opportunities, and organisations need to support this.
Often, a development opportunity won’t deliver immediate value to the organisation or align with short-term business goals. Seconding a valued employee to another team, office, or even to a client organisation, for example, should be encouraged. Losing an employee for a few months is better than losing them permanently.
Give them control of their learning
Millennials are used to training themselves. Whenever they need a new skill or information, they go online and find what they need. Workplace training is still appreciated, but must be delivered in a way that works for this audience. That means making learning programs short, relevant, entertaining and available on mobile devices.
Stop patronising them
Some organisations have the idea that perks like free food or billiard tables will engage millennials. Millennials are too smart to fall for this. They aren’t going to stay in a job that feels stifling because you’ve put some beanbags in the lunch room.
There are no short cuts to engaging your millennial talent. We’ve required this generation to be flexible and patient – and to make their own luck. They’ve had to push harder and take on more debt than the Boomers and Gen X did to start their careers. It’s understandable that they want to feel it’s been worth the effort.