The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you help millennials feel like they’re part of the company?” is written by Raymond Carvey, executive vice president, corporate learning at Harvard Business Publishing.
Any company looking to grow, transform, or simply continue to exist needs to understand how to make millennials feel welcome in the workplace. We all know by now that these young, rising workers are different from the generations who came before them. They grew up in a hyper-connected world, making them ultra-comfortable with technology and the speed and innovation that comes with it. And they also now make up the majority of our workforce, so engaging and welcoming them is no longer an option—it’s a must.
Millennials want to be developed, receive constant feedback, and learn from an actively engaged manager. Companies that offer them these things will make millennials feel welcome. Here are a few suggestions on how to do so:
Don’t worry about holding onto them
Naturally, business leaders may be wary of investing in leadership and development for young employees who might view a company as a stepping stone, rather than a landing spot. But providing millennials with these opportunities allows business leaders get the best out of their employees. Harvard Business Review authors Chris Yeh, Ben Casnocha, and Reid Hoffman have suggested that companies think of employee relationships as individual project-based partnerships, rather than long-term contracts.
The skills millennials gather can be applied on the job, allowing for increased efficiency and efficacy. Developing millennial talent will also build your reputation as a company that cares about the professional growth of its employees. As millennials move to their next positions, they’ll spread the word about their past experience with you—good or bad. Leveraging their ability to spread information could be the best recruiting dollars you ever spend.
Educate them in different ways
Millennials were born into a connected world, and they want to learn by using technology. Address this by offering them educational programs that are mobile, self-paced, high-quality, and on demand. Often, they are looking for short, quick bites of learning, such as a one-minute video on creating a project plan, or an infographic on how to handle a difficult conversation.
However, more formal learning programs remain valuable. Couple those short educational programs with heartier offerings, like a new development program for millennials in leadership roles. These should include longer, more structured lessons that both align to your organization’s priorities and allow for practice and reflection. While 40-second videos can certainly draw learners in, they’re often too short on their own to drive the necessary thinking and application of concepts, and they don’t always stick in the minds of learners.
Make sure that all of your developmental initiatives—from simple performance support tools, to deeper, more structured programs—teach millennials how to continuously learn on the job, manage complex situations, and make the most of their professional networks. In doing so, you’ll build a base of employees who drive growth within your organization, and who feel confident that they can excel as leaders wherever they land.