Why Training for the Millennial Generation is Vital

Understanding and challenging your Millennial employees

I just attended conference where Baby Boomer managers discussed their frustrations with attracting and retaining the Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and the early 2000s), also known as Generation Y.

Two statistics really got the managers worked up:

  1. Millennials will probably hold six different jobs in their career—about 5.5 years per job, and
  2. They want to continually develop new skills

Several managers complained loudly, "Six jobs?" "Why would I want to invest in them if they're going to leave."

One manager took the floor and put it in perspective, "You can train them, and they leave. Or worse, you don't train them and they stay."

Appreciating Generation Y

After listening to this discussion, it was apparent the older managers first needed to gain an appreciation for the Millennials.

This group has different needs than the Baby Boomer Generation, or even Generation X. According to Forbes, when it comes to their jobs, the majority would like to:  

  • Have an impact.
  • Be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, prefer more of a coach or mentor.
  • Work in a collaborative versus competitive work-culture.
  • Maintain a flexible work schedule.
  • Work-life integration, as work and life now blend together inextricably.

To get a deeper understanding on these differences, take a look at our Diversity and Inclusion training solutions. After only a few minutes you see that the Millennials, like everyone, are a result of their upbringing. (Yes, the same Baby Boomers and Generation X managers with the issues were their parents.)

Generation Y parents taught their children they were special (deserved respect) and were determined that their children find their passion. They gave them everything they could to make them successful. Generation Y grew up with a full schedule outside school—sports, volunteering, you name it. Failure wasn't an option.

Boredom is Death

Today, you don't mess with the Millennials' self-respect. And instead of rebelling like other generations . . . they get bored. And they get bored pretty easily. One way to meet their needs and avoid that boredom is to provide continued challenges. One way to help them better themselves as valued employees is through training.

For any older managers who still need further reason to embrace the needs of Generation Y, they will soon be the norm. Generation Y is expected to soon constitute nearly 40 percent of the workforce.

I'm hoping by the next conference the older managers will find training a small price to pay for a new batch of employees who enjoy evolving, taking on new challenges and making the world a better place.

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.