How to Connect with Millennials During Training

Excerpt from “Not Just Talent: The Millennials Redefining Talent & Human Capital Management” by Philipe Bruce (January 2017).

Just a couple of years ago, asking seasoned professionals or Generation Xers to be led by someone half their age was met with disgust, disbelief, and, of course, outrage. Who really wants to follow someone who has little to no experience in the job market? However, that disgust is changing to a grudging respect for a generation that has gone above and beyond the call of duty in a bid to make an impact on their chosen fields.

We are, of course, talking about Millennials here. Many organizations around the globe have realized that this generation has a core set of skills that previous ones refuse to or cannot adopt. Those skills are tantamount in adapting to a world that has become dependent on changing tech and work practices that rely on them to remain functional.

Millennials stand out because rather than seeing changing norms as obstacles like most Generation Xers do, they see them as obstacle courses with a pot of gold at the end.

However, that does not mean they are easy to recruit, or train, for that matter. Millennials are known for being counterproductive if it suits them. They are stubborn to a fault, have their own ideas on what can make them happy in a workplace, can switch loyalties at the drop of a hat, and can be hard to work with if their ideals are not met. On the other hand, if this generation and older ones are encouraged to set their differences aside and work together, the wealth of experience and knowledge they bring to the table can pave the way to any organization’s continuous success.

In today’s market, any business that ignores the shifting influence Baby Boomers used to enjoy and new generations who are taking up the gauntlet whether anyone likes it or not are setting themselves up for failure. This theory is based on facts. According to a study published in the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers:

  • Millennials make up the most diverse workforce the U.S. has seen to date.
  • This generation places emphasis on personal needs, but their main goal is to create a work-life balance that works for them.
  • They are the most in debt due to rising education costs and a struggling economy they had nothing to do with.
  • They are shaped by technology, but they value community, family, and a workplace that encourages creativity.
  • Even though most of these individuals are in their 30s, most of them are still loyal to their first employers since they entered the job market during an economic recession.
  • Female Millennials enjoy more equality in the workplace than their predecessors.
  • Millennials are less likely to be homeowners so their major investments are usually in their career prospects.

All of these points make Millennials one of the most difficult, but most rewarding employees to work with. In order to ensure the latter as a business owner, you need to meet them where they are by connecting with them on a personal level. The following are some ideal ways to do this with a generation that can pave the way to innovation and a new workplace ethic that can inspire others:

Create a Multi-Device Workplace

Gone are the days when employees only had a single computer to work on and woe betide those who had to work long hours because they couldn’t connect to their portals at home. Today, a single day’s work can fit into a number of mobile devices, and work on the go has become the new norm.

Millennials have embraced this new system with gusto and are used to working on different devices at a time. They simply cannot understand why they cannot switch from one to the next, so forcing them to work on single stations is futile. Connect with them by fulfilling such needs and encourage them to learn in short bursts. That’s how they thrive.

Offer Them Leadership Roles

While hiring a young generation as managers right off the bat might not be a feasible idea, this generation still will expect some roles that can help them hone those skills. Even if you can’t hire them as team leads, it is a good idea to create short leadership programs they can take part in.

This will do two things:

  1. It will help you retain incredible talent.
  2. It will give Millennial recruits opportunities to prove themselves as leaders and maybe even revolutionaries. Remember, they want to make an impact—roles that allow them to do so will leave a lasting impression on them and might generate leaders who can take your organization to the next level.

Adopt Modern Marketing Practices

Training sessions that are based around social media and the latest business tech has higher chances of pulling this generation in than lackluster and outdated ones. Think modern marketing and encourage them to attend important sessions through social media rather than Outlook, for example. Whether your Millennials are hungry for career advancement or not, chances are their curiosity will be piqued and they will attend those sessions.

That said, small, bite-sized sessions will have more of an impact on this generation than overly long ones irrespective of the importance of the material. Remember, Millennials thrive on fast growth, so they will be more willing to sit through small training sessions that provide them something of value rather than those that “waste their time.” Those that are more driven than others will go above and beyond the call of duty to absorb what is being taught but only if the training is worth their while.

Connecting with Millennials during training sessions is not rocket science, even though it might seem like an insurmountable challenge in the beginning. While catering to their every whim is futile at best, meeting them in the middle by providing them short and tailored training sessions can result in a better working environment.


Excerpt from “Not Just Talent: The Millennials Redefining Talent & Human Capital Managementby Philipe Bruce (January 2017).

Philipe Bruce is the founder of P.O.D.S Professional & Organizational Development Solutions, a business coaching consultancy based in Omaha, NE. Born in The Republic of Togo of West Africa, Bruce ​is a business development coach with degrees from University of Nebraska, Bellevue University, and Peru State College. Fluent in English and French and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Bruce brings a diverse, global perspective to the challenges facing the American workforce. His new book, “Not Just Talent: The Millennials Redefining Talent & Human Capital Management is available now on Amazon, which aims to help businesses design comprehensive strategies to leverage the strengths and creativity Millennials bring with them.

Twitter @philipebruce

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