Now more than ever, organizations are working to understand what changes they can make to attract and retain employees, particularly millennials, who now make up the largest portion of the U.S. labor force. Especially since millennials are the generation most likely to job-hop, with 60 percent reporting to be open to new job opportunities and 21 percent saying they’ve changed jobs in the last year, there are triple the number of non-millennials who report the same.
What’s more, millennial turnover is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually — so it should come as no surprise that organizations are increasingly seeking to implement new strategies to retain this valuable demographic of workers.
So how can businesses crack the code when it comes to resonating with and retaining millennial talent in the workplace?
With 35 percent of millennials indicating a good training and development program as the most desirable quality in a workplace, it’s clear that millennial employee turnover rates depend heavily on an organization’s ability to meet their needs when it comes to training. While many businesses are hesitant to adopt new technology in the training space, the truth is that without a digital training presence, businesses will never be able to fully satisfy the needs of this growing pool of employees who are hungry to broaden their skill sets at work.
When developing a training program to meet the expectations of millennials and the next generation of tech-savvy workers, consider these three things.
Millennials want to learn
Millennials are on track to become the most educated working demographic in U.S. history. For the rising number of employees who’ve been through years of various degrees of education consisting of multiple courses and areas of study, the desire for change and diverse experiences in the workplace is more prevalent than ever. A digital approach to learning can fulfill the need for continuous, expansive learning opportunities.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are a data-driven tool which allows businesses to deliver on-demand learning spanning a wide range of categories and areas of expertise. Flexible training models like MOOCs allow employees 24/7 access to courses and programs that are functional across multiple devices, from mobile phones to tablets to computers. This type of on-demand training offers employees the opportunity to expand their knowledge beyond their individual area of expertise. Millennials in particular often feel the need to seek new job opportunities when they feel as though they’ve learned all they can in their current role. Providing this type of extensive digital training allows workers to satisfy their desire for new challenges, while also growing their skill sets and fostering their career development.
Further, as technology advancements continue to thrive, millennials are eager to obtain new skills, with 74 percent saying they are willing to re-train to remain employable in the future. Providing accessible digital-learning opportunities that are up-to-date with any new technology your business is adopting will alleviate some of the concern associated with the potential for a future knowledge gap with digital innovation.
On-the-go training is the future
Gone are the days of traditional, instructor-led training courses that take up too much time and result in minimal knowledge retention. Millennials appreciate flexibility when it comes to their work schedules, and this applies to training as well. Instead of being restricted to in-person training sessions or timed tests, flexible digital training tools allow employees to customize their learning experience based on their individual preferences and schedules.
For example, while 58 percent of employees prefer to learn at their own pace, 49 percent prefer to learn at the point of need. Providing digital training allows businesses to fulfill the needs of different types of learners, allowing those employees who prefer to take their time the opportunity to revisit a given course from home or during their commute. Conversely, learners who prefer to learn at the point of need have the option to access training on their mobile devices in between meetings or when presented with an unfamiliar area of expertise on-site. This type of flexibility and access transforms the perception of training from a mandatory, check-the-box task to an invaluable resource.
Take advantage of tech
Technology innovations have produced huge opportunities for advancement in the training space. Millennials are not interested in a one-size-fits-all training experience, and technology helps businesses deliver those customized learning opportunities they crave. Take AI-powered tech like facial recognition, for example. Facial recognition software is enhancing the online learning experience through being able to detect the mood of the learner and communicating that to the program in real time. With that information, the course can automatically update to align with the pace of the learner so that if, for example, the participant is rushing through answers, the course can adjust to offer multiple choice questions instead of written responses. Additionally, if an employee appears to be experiencing difficulty with a training, the AI-powered course can prompt the employee with questions to better understand the areas or topics that are more challenging and as a result, help the employee through the exercise.
Businesses are implementing these strategies in the current day. Walmart is a great example of a company that’s currently incorporating advanced technology into its training program, providing in-store employees with virtual reality headsets that grant access to 45 activity-based modules. Leveraging technology like VR and AI to enhance the training experience gives participants the opportunity to develop skills that wouldn’t be possible in a traditional training setting and it’s this type of innovation that will bring the learning experience to the next level.
Ultimately, modern training needs to be digital. Transitioning to a technology-based way of learning will not only help fulfill the needs of millennial workers but will establish a system that can support the growth of future generations to come.
About the author: Ben Bekhor serves as Vice President, Human Resources, Americas for Sitel Group, a leader in the delivery of traditional and transformational customer experience management, or business process outsourcing (BPO). Bekhor oversees all aspects of HR operations for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, and Colombia including Compensation and Benefits, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management, and Learning and Development.