Hiring Gen Y (Part 6): Training Your New Hires

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by Traci K and BrightMove Staffing Software and Recruiting Software

The inevitability of the changing workforce dynamic is that, at some point or another, members of Generation Y are going to be a part of it.  Whether currently on board or getting ready to start, Millennial employees require the enactment of new strategies to attract, train, and retain them.  They are motivated differently, they learn differently, and they have different needs than any generation preceding them.  Figuring out how to walk to the beat of the Gen Y drum is crucial to a successful onboarding and training process.

Ann Marie Dinkel for ALN Magazine highlights a few key traits to focus on when training Generation Y employees, explaining that when creating a new training plan, these influences should be taken into consideration:

  1. They are collaborative, team players.
  2. They have short attention spans.
  3. There is pressure to excel.
  4. Technology is their friend.
  5. They expect to be entertained.

When possible, hiring younger professionals in groups rather than individual is advantageous.  Training together, having someone to identify with and grow with, will alleviate concerns or anxiety that new employees may have.  As they prefer to work in teams, Millennials will enjoy training in a team setting even if their role moving forward will be more independent.

  • Keep training sessions short.  As Gen Yers can get bored easily and have grown up in a fast-paced, quickly changing age of technology, these factors carry over into how they learn.  They also have learned to juggle many activities, between sports, community involvement, education, and social activities, the plate has always been full.  Keep them busy, don’t focus on one subject for too long, and follow-up on the information that was covered to help retention.
  • Set goals.  Tell them what is expected and what needs to be done to meet those expectations.  They grew up being rewarded, named by the Wall Street Journal as Trophy Kids.  They like to see results for what they work hard on, no matter how monetary.  Pit employees against each other in fun motivational “games” involving work responsibilities or team development.  Getting to know their coworkers on a more intimate level will satisfy their need to be social.
  • Utilize the technological skills of your Digital Babies.  Growing up with the internet, iPods, and social media, their knowledge of and skill levels related to these areas is higher than many others.  Social media especially is finding its way into the business plans of even the highest level of conventional, traditional companies.  Pick their brains for ideas and use these brainstorming sessions as ways for new hires to bring fresh thoughts on current practices and procedures.  Read through company policies and talk about what they think.  This will create a great learning opportunity for them in terms of how your company operates and how the business world works.  As well, it can showcase the areas of technology that your corporation embraces and how innovative it is.

Boring company videos are not only going to give Millennials as dated image of your company, but also will not start the onboarding process off on a good foot.  Develop a good process for bringing new employees on.  Update company informational videos with current employees.  Instead of showing one long video, break up this type of training into shorter modules.  Bring in guest speakers from different departments.  Do whatever possible to avoid monotonous training and your new Gen Yers will retain more of what you are teaching them.

It may sound a little superfluous to go to so much trouble, changing processes and procedures simply because Millennials don’t learn as well the “old” way.  The fact of the matter is, as Baby Boomers leave the workforce, Echo Boomers will slowly start to form the majority.  Starting the transition in training procedures and incorporating the strategies that play to different learning methods of incoming workers will only make future training and development all the more successful.  Training is not the only step that needs to transition into the new age of the workforce.  Development and employee engagement initiatives should also be reevaluated.  In Step Seven – Engaging and Managing Your Young Professionals, the key motivators of Generation Y will be highlighted in order to increase productivity and retention.

Traci K. is an HR Professional and freelance writer based in the Midwest, specializing in recruitment and immigration.  When she’s not improving unemployment, she keeps busy with her husband and four children.

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