Don’t Just Engage Millennials – Find Their “Sweet Spot”

Posted by Paradigm Learning on August 08, 2014

Don't Just Engage Millenials - Find Their "Sweet Spot"

If you’ve been reading leadership forums lately, you certainly will have come across discussions about “engaging” Millennials. I just finished reading three, but one stuck out more than the rest…Quit Trying to ‘Engage’ Millennials.

In this article, Anthony Lye, CPO at Red Book Connect, shares his views about how the “engage” buzzword is causing leaders to lose sight by assuming 20-somethings are unprepared and difficult to manage – resulting in the loss of great Millennial talent. “Millennials can be highly motivated, productive and insightful when you set them loose with creative boundaries,” Lye says.

So is there a greater disconnect that’s being chalked up to an engagement issue?

While engagement is important, understanding Millennials and what makes them tick can make it easier to take advantage of their insights and creativity. Ben Rosen, Ph.D. and professor of organizational behavior at UNC Chapel Hill, surveyed a cross-section of 5,400 employees to explore what they wanted most from their employers. His findings suggest that there is far more in common across generations than was previously thought – that Millennials have similar expectations to other generations in the workforce.

According to Rosen, Millennials have the following five expectations of their employers:

  1. Work on challenging projects
  2. Receive competitive compensation
  3. Have opportunities for advancement and chances to learn and grow in their jobs
  4. Receive fair treatment
  5. Have work-life balance

None of these expectations are all that surprising. The challenge, especially for learning and development leaders who want to meet the need of Millennials to learn and grow within the organization, is understanding their diverse learning styles and technology preferences – finding the “sweet spot ” that connects best for this group, a group that can’t imagine a world without a smartphone.

Game-based learning is a powerful way to tap into this sweet spot. Incorporating games in learning isn’t new. “Gamification” is a more recent development that started attracting widespread attention around 2010. That’s when more companies recognized the potential of harnessing games in learning to serve a variety of business goals. The Gartner Group predicts that by the end of 2014 more than two-thirds (70%) of the Forbes Global 2000 will gamify their learning to attract, develop and retain talent. Since Millennials are a growing audience, game-based learning is more important than ever.

Game-based learning

  • Is learner-driven, while promoting team learning with guided discussions
  • Makes complex topics more interesting and easier to understand
  • Is fast-paced and energizing
  • Creates a safe environment for trying out new ideas and practices
  • Mimics realistic situations, but not so closely as to distract
  • Can be in the classroom, online or both
  • Accelerates learning and on-the-job application
  • Is FUN

So to engage Millennials, you’ll need to understand them and provide them with learning opportunities that resonate with their styles and motivations. Game-based learning can be a powerful tool in your learning arsenal.

What do you think?

Topics: Technology, Employee Engagement