Millennials Thrive in Learning Organisations

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, are dynamic, with a wealth of potential to contribute to the transition, sustainability and growth of an organisation, towards its desired future. The 2014 Deloitte Millennial Survey reported that by 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce, overtaking the Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. Employers across the world have been challenged to explore methods to keep Millennials engaged.

It is a known fact that this generation is easily distracted, if they are not strategically engaged. Millennials are a social generation. Collaborating and devising are some of their core characteristics. They value choice and prefer switching between different approaches and appliances in the execution of their assignments. In order to fully benefit from the potential that this generation has, and to assist the organisation in adapting to its business environment at a faster pace, employers must be flexible in responding to this trend. The employer should view this as leveraging Millennials, rather than changing their approach to adapt to the generation.

Leveraging Millennials is a master key to unlocking the opportunity to transform the organisation into a learning organisation. This is not a new concept in the business world. A learning organisation is an environment “where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole (reality) together.” (Senge 1992). A learning orgranisation facilitates a high performance culture that keeps Millennials engaged in a healthy competitive environment. Organisations must be driven to learn. This way they are better prepared to cope with the escalating internal and external forces of change. This offers a competitive advantage which can be founded on different strategies. One way of gaining a competitive advantage is embracing skills diversity, by the influx and retention of novel experience and knowledge, which keeps the organisation dynamic and engaging for the Millennials. Other important factors that Millennials consider when choosing an employer are personal and career growth. To support their desire for growth, employers must be open to mentoring and coaching them with clear and frequent feedback. Millennials want their achievements to be pointed out, and when they perform poorly, they want that to be pointed out as well, along with advice on how they can improve. They should be allowed to create and run their own committees and teams to harness their sense of purpose. Millennials want to contribute to an organisation that values their strengths, but also recognizes their need for continued development. This generation of workforce are curious, they learn quickly. People who learn quickly, are open to the new and unfamiliar, and can find learning in all types of experiences. This in itself is a character of leadership excellence, because great leaders understand that leadership and learning are requisites to each other. As Doug Conant, CEO of Campbell’s Soup once said, “to win in the marketplace, an organisation must first win in the workplace”. Employers, leverage your Millennials, they need a learning organisation.