I am 24. How different are you?

PWC Survey of Millennials

I am 24. Quite naturally branded as a Millennial. Fickle minded, selfish, lack of respect for authority, carry a sense of entitlement. That hurts!

In some sense these statements are correct. My generation is singularly responsible for the rise & fall of gadgets like the Walkman, CD player, CDs, and Pagers. We move from one gadget to another. We also moved from Hotmail to Gmail, Orkut to Facebook. They are not different just new.

At work, we do not respect authority, with unions and associations, we forced organizations to implement the 8 hour work rule. We brought in overtime pay, compensatory off & many other workplace policies. We believe this made the work place better.

We implemented reservations in jobs for specific ethnic groups, toppled governments who tried to reign us in, with accountability at work. We are also the generation that brought in the ‘Individual Performance Appraisal’ system and the ‘Bell Curve’. We challenged the management for everything that did not suit our interests.

I am a Millennial… or AM I?

Today when business leaders, quite easily and conveniently brand, categorize and dismiss, the workforce as Millennials, to me it is a little hard to agree. Just a few years ago, when we were at the bottom of the pyramid, we did similar things. So is it a generation or just spirit of youth?

In any organization, 80% of today’s workforce is below the age of 28. They define the DNA of the organization. According to the PWC report based on the global survey of workforce, Training & Development ranks the highest in their priorities.

PWC Global Survey of Millennials

Training, Learning & opportunities for growth are the top priority, for today’s workforce to accept a job offer. Traditional HR policies like Maternity benefits, Free child care, subsidized travel costs, rank low in their priorities. These low ranking benefits were probably ranking high during the Industrial revolution. Job scarcity, security and higher age of employees influenced these benefits. However, for today’s workforce should we relook at prioritizing things differently?

However, the definition of training & learning is different from our conventional wisdom. Our natural thought when we think of training or learning, is to create a series of programs, map it to the career path, use technology and end up with an e-learning tool.

Training & learning for the workforce today, is very different and very contradictory to what we seem to know and come to believe.

PWC Global Survey of Millennials

Classroom based learning & E-Learning methods that we today pride ourselves as key unique propositions in our training methods rank low. No wonder the engagement levels & outcome from these models are equally disappointing.

We need a stronger long term, relationship based programs. These programs are slow in ROI, but the impact is long lasting, sustainable.

Having said that, we also need to acknowledge that being social is the way forward. By social platforms, I do not mean, the Yammers and other tools that are very internal to an organization. These platforms do not satisfy the very basic emotional ratification that a Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter do.

While an organizations, public social platforms are for client eyeballs at a primary level, we should also use them for engaging employees to learn and share information. Here is why. This simple chart from Comscore shows the average time today’s workforce spend on some of the popular platforms.

Comscore chart of social platforms penetration vs engagement

The engagement levels on these platforms are high. Should we not use these platforms to grab some attention & mind space? Should we restrict our learning to in-house platforms?

We can use a variety of these platforms or their technologies to create learning solutions beyond today.

“Fiver” like platforms for coaching & mentor-ship or connecting with experts
“Geo filters” of Snapchat for specific topics. In short bursts.
Facebook’s “Immersive canvas” for trans media learning.
TAP / What’s app for “Chat” based learning.
Podcasting for “news model, or narrative model” of learning.
“Stories” on Instagram, “Moments” on twitter for short quick tips and reference based learning.

We as learning professionals & business leaders, need to re-think corporate learning & skill building in today’s digital world. We need to get out of our comfort zone. If our reason for not risking tried and established methods is our credibility at stake or insecurity, ironically we can build or improve it only by risking it. We remind ourselves of our younger self & create solutions that we wanted and did not have.

Instead of quoting our age, inefficiencies in technology & how we overcame them, we should look at using the technologies available and creating a better learning experience for today’s workforce.

Who knows, with AI & ML, we may even land up in a situation like Neo in the near future?

Super fast learning — Matrix — Neo