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Why train... millennials?

Do companies get a return on investment when they train millennials? 

Excel Communications Nic HallettThose employees who are joining your company today, straight from school, university or as apprentices, are the newest of their generation. And they are expected to fit in to roles and a business that was probably designed and led by baby boomers. They fit in like a round peg in a virtual hole. I am writing this at a desk, in my office, on a laptop - millennials are more likely to be reading this on a smartphone while commuting or waiting at the Nespresso machine.

Why does any of this matter with respect to training? 
Historically the paradigm has been that 'of course' organisations should provide training for their employees because this creates a safe, effective and loyal workforce. During the 20th century society expected individuals to have one career and just a handful of jobs in a lifetime. With such a sedentary workforce it made perfect sense to invest in training as you would ultimately get a return on investment (ROI) in the decades ahead.

Now switch those consistent, reliable employees for a whole new workforce of hyper-confident entrepreneurs who genuinely believe that the greatest gift they can bestow is to just be there. Who feel a sense of entitlement and will absorb every opportunity to develop and learn so that they can move on to the next great job and be the next Steve Jobs, or Elon Musk, while still in their twenteens.

In the millennial paradigm, training looks as though you are investing in someone else's stars of tomorrow, someone who is likely to move on long before you realise your ROI. So why train millennials?

Understand the millennial paradigm
Although we define the generations according to dates of life events and development - generation is far more a state of mind than year of birth. Check out the following table and see which column honestly resonates the most with you.

It is perfectly possible to be a millennial trapped in a 1960's body! It is equally possible to be a baby boomer who just happens to be only 20 years old.

Why train millennials?
…. if they are going to move on, or become your competitor one day? Because these people are the catalysts of change that will keep your business relevant and successful for the years ahead.

Business case studies are littered with the stories of Hoover, IBM and Woolworths that stuck to their tried and tested formulae, were market leaders until the market moved on and they failed to lead or even follow.

millennials are the first digital natives - people who have grown up online and who just expect 24/7, unlimited connectivity. The accelerating churn of change has to be powered by those who live an on-demand life, not those who merely understand it.

Millennials will absorb every opportunity to develop and learn so that they can move on to the next great job

What kind of training do you give millennials?
Ironically the skill sets required by your millennial workforce are little changed from those needed by their parents or grandparents. Everyone in a business world needs to be able to effectively:

  • Communicate in a clear, informed and influential way one-to-one
  • Confidently present ideas to larger audiences 
  • Chair and facilitate meetings with or without positional power
  • Manage people, performance or teams
  • Lead teams, companies or countries.

The difference between the generations is that millennials are more engaged by learning opportunities that directly add value to them personally and that align with their personal goals and ambitions. So while the capabilities trained for may be familiar and consistent throughout the generations, the way in which they are communicated or sold to the millennial workforce needs to be radically updated.

How do you measure ROI?
The Holy Grail - measuring the ROI from training millennials. Evaluating the value of soft-skills training has always been difficult but now there is a new generation evaluation tool that is simple, cost-effective and online.

Baby boomers

the in-line generation


the online generation

Look after me for lifeInvest in me for now
I'll give you the next decadeI'll give you the next year
It's a privilege to be offered trainingIt's my right to be offered training
I seek stabilityI seek opportunity
I work for entrepreneursI am that entrepreneur
I'm lucky to be hereYou're lucky to have me
It's my duty to focus and concentrate
It's your duty to engage me
I work at the office then relax at home
I blend work and fun 24/7
I'm pleased to find a phone signal or Wi-Fi
I expect to be connected anytime, anywhere
The internet is a valuable resourceThe internet is just how I live my life

Excel Evaluate is an online tool that empowers organisations to easily and cost-effectively measure the behavioural impact of their internal training or the expert training provided by the Excel Communications group of companies - visit

Article by Nic Hallet 

22nd June 2016

From: Marketing



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