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April 20, 2020

Employee Engagement Strategies for Millennials May Not Be What You Thought

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If you search "millennials" in your browser, you'll find no shortage of articles and blogs on the differences between workers born between 1981 and 1996 and every other generation, especially baby boomers. Through these postings, we've learned that millennials are better educated, less likely to be married at a young age and more comfortable with technology, among other distinctions. At first glance, they seem to have very little in common with their forebears.

Every generation has its differences, of course. But when it comes to learning and development, there might be too much emphasis on what distinguishes populations, as opposed to what unites them. The Journal of Business and Psychology published a meta-analysis of 20 studies that collectively polled over 19,000 employees across four generations. They found that generational differences in workplace preferences and values are actually quite small. The differences they did find may not have been generational at all, but instead represent individuals' beliefs.

Keeping this in mind, let's explore some employee engagement strategies for millennials that you can implement in your organization.

Busting millennial myths

Like any other generation when it's first emerging, millennials have received their share of negative labels over the years, including "selfish," "entitled" and "lazy," thanks in part to 2013 Time magazine article, "The Me Me Me Generation." Recent research says these labels aren't accurate.

For example, let's look at some myths that have been busted for millennial employees:

  • Millennials aren't loyal to their employers. False. In fact, millennial workers stay at their current jobs longer than both Generation X and baby boomers did at their age, reported NPR.
  • Millennials aren't hard workers. False. According to research from Concordia University, no difference in work ethic exists between millennials, Generation X and baby boomers.
  • Millennials have different career goals than previous generations. Again, false. Millennials, like other generations, share similar ideals in the workplace, such as making a positive impact on the organization and working with diverse individuals, Concordia University discovered.

Approaching generational learning preferences

Employees, no matter if they're baby boomers, millennials or Generation Z, want to be treated with respect, want to feel valued, and want to be introduced to engaging topics and learning modules. And with more people working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, employee engagement strategies are more important than ever. When you personalize learning through your learning management system (LMS), you can captivate your learners and ensure the content sticks.

Here are some ways to meet your workforce where they are:

  • Mobile learning: According to LinkedIn's "2019 Workplace Learning Report," millennials aren't the only learners who are mobile. Thanks to modern technology, all generations are more social and mobile. Make sure your learning content is optimized for all of your learners' devices.
  • Social learning: Over half of learners across generations prefer collaborative social learning environments, according to LinkedIn. Your LMS's learner engagement features should provide an online destination for learner collaboration, especially while your workforce waits out the pandemic in their home offices.
  • Microlearning: LinkedIn also found that almost three-fourths of all workers prefer to learn on the job. Providing courses that employees can complete in brief sessions as they encounter new challenges will help them adapt their learning time to their needs. This will also allow them to use their downtime to upskill in short spurts and surprise you with their knowledge later.

Understanding learning preferences depends more on your workplace than generational differences. Consider your corporate goals, your culture and your learners' foundational knowledge, to name a few factors, when planning learning initiatives. By understanding your internal L&D requirements, you can encourage cross-generational participation and empower your learners at every age.

If you're ready to develop employee engagement strategies for millennials, tap Absorb LMS. Sign up for a live demo today.