Generation Why? Millennial Employee Training Needs Authenticity


As I work with organizations one concern stands out amid all others. The culture gap between Baby Boomer senior management and the Millennial entry-level workforce seems to be the root of all organizational problems.

The Pew Research Center states that the millennial generation (those aged 18-33) are “unattached to organized politics and religion, linked by social media, …[and] distrustful of people.” At first glance, this generation might not seem like ideal employees that will be loyal, engaged team players. And these are precisely the complaints I hear on a regular basis. I hear, “millennials don’t value our structure.” “They don’t meet traditional goals, but they expect all the same advancement.” And, “they spend too much time on social media.” The answer is tailoring millennial employee training that fits the values and culture of the younger generation.

Underneath this surface is a generation of well-connected and well-educated individuals with an interesting instinct for authenticity that when understood can be a real asset for your organization. In The Millennial Consumer Study , the Brand Research Group Elite Daily found that authenticity ranked higher in importance (43%) to content itself (32%). Elite Daily founder and CEO said, “Our findings confirmed that millennial employees are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands.” OK, so millennials develop brand loyalty to companies that offer authentic content, engage meaningfully with them on social media, or have highly ranked consumer reviews. What does this have to do with millennial employee training and engaging them in the workplace? Well, millennials bring these attitudes to all aspects of their life, including their careers. And this drive for realness can actually help your organization. Here are some ideas:

  • Problems respecting authority? Try explaining why the chain of command is important to the team or how the structure evolved. Remember that when millennials offer ideas out of turn it isn’t out of lack of respect, but because they value hearing all sides and just want the best possible solution for the group. Then, experiment with loosening the structure to try out new ideas from the crowd-sourcing generation. A good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from.
  • Do you have millennial on your team that seem capable and smart but who aren’t meeting expectations? Try restating goals to include their natural sense for collaboration. Develop employee training that shows individual goals move the group forward. Also, don’t link goals with compensation which is seen as divisive and not motivating. Link their goals to more responsibility and link compensation with the success of the team and growth of the company. You will see natural collaboration, team building and retention. You might even see your entire bottom line improve and you will retain a team of committed workers.
  • Does it seem like the younger employees on your team are always on Facebook when left alone? Do they sit quietly in status meetings and seem checked-out? Try moving the project discussions online. Project management software and online tools let millennials engage with projects and discussions as ideas occur and you will see team members staying engaged at their own pace and committing to projects by working on ideas at all hours.

The divide between boomers and millennils does not have to be a deal-breaker in employee relations. With millennial employee training you might see Generation Y as more than what they first appear, the Generation Why Me? turns into Generation Why Not All of Us? And this “Generation Why” may question everything but in the process they will build a more authentic culture with lasting success.