Millenials and Learning: When learning apps contribute

By 2025, Millennials will make up as much as 75 percent of the US workforce, according to a Brookings Institution report1. There are challenges, not least the different needs for engagement compared to older baby-boomers (BBs). Since needs differ, organizations need to be flexible in their employee-engagement offerings, but also to be fair and equal in their assessment and creation of needs policies.

While BBs are familiar with term feedback and appraisal every three months or so, Millennials mostly need rapid feedback. Even the alpha-bastion of Goldmann-Sachs has in 2016 removed their traditional term Performance Reviews to a real-time, feed-back system.

And feedback (both positive and ‘developmental’) needs to be positively stated with clear development steps, not just criticism2.

More Millennials have, as a group, needs to engage in teams rather than individual control, so group-based information and communication systems are essential. Like BBs., to be successful, Millennials will also have to upskill. These skills include communication, influencing, team-working, including knowing how to underpin collaborative outcomes. However, many Millennials are also convinced that the future requires constant creative movement. They are therefore intolerant of organizations where innovative thoughts and development are crushed in top-down environments.

Interestingly, Millennials often want to contribute altruistically now, rather than waiting until their 50s or 60s to be involved in civic/social/charitable projects. Business Schools are more often underpinning such needs by engaging their MBA students in projects that contribute outside of the business arena. There is no doubt that successful BBs will have to change much faster to retain their jobs once cohorts of Millennials reach group C-suite positions.

Many organizations fail the needs of Millenials; their managements seem disappointed that they cannot retain them. Millennial turnover and resilience in-post is much higher than for the same age-group just a decade ago. 48 percent of Gen Y mid-level managers3 in Fortune 500 companies reported that they planned to leave their current job within two years.

This evolving constituency in organizations needs training interventions that meet the needs of all employees in the mid-level now. Learning Apps can contribute to that – they offer tech-savvy executives, and BB executives, the opportunity to succeed in their learning. Another value-added is that they communicate using a shared vernacular, whatever their age. Of course, that statement is predicated on the Apps including a social-platform, where all learners can share inputs with one another, in other words, just like Gnowbe!

Samani and Thomas4 state that, ‘the most forward-thinking companies are identifying and growing leaders in the midst of pursuing critical business objectives, as opposed to sending them off to far-flung educational programs and hoping they return with “big” insights about themselves and the world.’ What better way to encourage learning, insights and sharing, than well-developed apps?!

Thanks to Yvonne Sum and Mark Dickson for the Samani & Thomas article.

1Winograd, M & Hais, M. How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America. Governance Studies at Brookings, May 2014, Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.

2 Sujansky, J. (2009). Spoiled, impatient, & entitled: Why you need strong millennials in your workplace. Supervision, 70(10), 8-10.

3 Danger in the Middle: Why Midlevel Managers Aren’t Ready to Lead. White Paper. 2013. Harvard Business Review.

© Dr Angus I McLeod 2017

Professor of Coaching (BCU, Birmingham, UK)
Wharton MBA/WEMBA Coach
Gnowbe Curator

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