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Learning from the Millennials

Gone are the days people work for the same organization for their entire career. One report from Workopolis suggests Canadians will hold approximately 15 jobs through their working career. People are looking for new challenges and opportunities and the number of career changers is on the rise. So what can companies do to attract and retain talent? Look no further than the millennials, who make up the largest percentage of the workforce, to drive workplace trends.

As a Gen Xer, I think the millennials as a group have been saddled with a negative stereotype. We generalize them as having short attention spans, needing recognition, being easily distracted, needing clear goals, wanting flexibility and constant feedback. I wonder however, as a learning professional, if addressing these characteristics is such a bad thing. Consider learning strategies we employ to address the millennials’ needs: offering mobile learning opportunities, using microlearning, videos and rich media, creating social and collaborative learning environments that includes gamification, and empowering a learner to create a learning path that allows them to practice, remediate, reflect, etc. at their own pace. Are these strategies not considered best practice?

While each generation exhibits its own unique characteristics, our workforce has and will continue to change. Maybe the wide brush we have painted the millennials with is green. Are they simply more adept at asking, or perhaps demanding workplace learning be innovative, relevant and dynamic?

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