How L&D can help solve the millennials retention challenge

There is a millennials conundrum out there. Millennials represent the present and future of every company out there, but at the same time, that very population group seems less engaged and does not respond well to traditional corporate culture. How to solve that problem?

Embrace millennials, or die.

To be very clear, companies do not have the luxury of avoiding millennials any longer. 37% of Thailand current active population consist of millennials. With baby-boomers population withdrawing from the talent pool, millennials weight in the workforce will keep rising even more radically.

By 2025, millennials will represent 75% of the total workforce, shaping company cultures and bringing new management styles to companies.

Understanding, retaining and leveraging millennials strengths are crucial for present and future business competitiveness.

Wait, who are those millennials again?

  • Are born between 1980 and 1996, making them the most represented population segment in the workforce today.
  • Are tech-savvy and considered “digital-natives”, familiarized with the internet and computers since an early age.
  • Are more open-minded than their parent’s generation on societal topics. Tend to be critical about the impact of business and corporate leaders on society and environment.
  • Are less attached to goods and brands than any other generation, valuing travel and experiences instead.

A set of new expectations.

Take work-life balance for example, if you thought simply introducing “flexible hours” would be enough, you may just have missed the point. The truth is that millennials don’t want to have work and personal life side-by-side anymore. They expect instead that their work-life won’t be disruptive and will blend into their daily lives habits.

Another fundamental change is the expectations they place into their management. Whereas the past model was in favor of a hierarchical approach, millennials expect coaching from their direct line management.

One to one frequent feedback meetings are key to enhance millennials wellbeing at the workplace. Gone are the days where providing feedback was once or twice per year during mid year and yearly appraisals. Instead, millennials need an “ongoing” discussion to thrive and learn.

Companies that succeeded the challenge of their retention are applying “reverse mentoring” : How about training your line managers to also grow their skills by empowering the company’s young generation?

Pushing millennials’ strengths may be the key

According to Gallup, focusing on strengths development leads to excellence. Together with Past vs future paradigm, Millennials wants to develop and thrive in cultivating their strengths with the expectation in realizing what’s best in them.

From this standpoint, the notion of talent becomes key in managing millennials. The fundamental concept to grasp here is that everyone has talent.

Talent is sometimes being defined as a naturally recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied.

According to Gallup analytics, strengths-based development generates higher retention outputs. In the company sample surveyed, when compared to their peers, employees who received strengths-based development were found to have : 

  • 18% increased performance.
  • 73% less chance to leave the company.
  • 23% higher employee engagement.

In order to maximize those strengths, a robust talent process is necessary to first identify strenghts, and then to develop millennials potential into productivity.

Development of millennials is still a miss

According to the same survey by Gallup, only around 50% of millennials agreed they had opportunities to learn and grow within the past year. At the same time, only 33% agreed that their most recent learning opportunity at work was well worth their time.

Those 2 indicators show that companies still have a long way to cater to development needs of millennials and being appreciated for it. A first step towards improving the situation is to measure the 2 statistics within your organization. 

Furthermore, millennial’s management experience cannot be overlooked anymore. Gallup shows that 65% of managers are not engaged or are actively disengaged at the workplace.

To a common question about “why millennials leave”, can be certainly answered by management experience they receive. How can your promising young new recruit become engaged and fed with feedback when their own management is not engaged?

An L&D offer specifically designed to develop millennials talents is therefore necessary to achieve retention objectives.

What millenials need from your learning program

Make learning flexible and on-demand 

Millennials are well accustomed to technology and more attached to it in their daily life. It probably won’t come as a shock that the number of times Millennials check their device is quite a bit higher—up to 150 times a day (against 80 on average)!

Learning typically happens:

  • during business travel (32%)
  • at home (26%)
  • while commuting (24%)
  • at the office (18%).

Millennials want to have answers the moment a challenge arises. In fact, making training accessible “on the moment”  lead to improved productivity and efficiency.

Train your Managers to shift away from a Top-Down approach

One directional assignment from the top down is not worth Millennial interest anymore. Instead, try to :

  • Train your manager to empowerment techniques and giving, receiving feedback.
  • Apply reverse mentoring.
  • Make your millennials engaged with experts they could learn from. It’s not all about learning from the boss or the internal trainer, it’s about the learning experience all around.
New paradigm : focus on millennials’ strenghts in recruitment and development


Investing in strengths + feedback = ROI.

Your business will run better and faster in changing landscape if you do invest in millennials strengths. Change your recruiters habits to challenge on strengths in order to better apprehend talents (VS the traditional approach challenging weaknesses).

Invest on leadership training

The average age of a millennial manager is 30 but on average, managers get their first manager training around 40 year old. Training and preparing the leaders of tomorrow means investing in leadership, earlier! Once done, provide on-the-job assignments to boost soft skills development.

Provide a continuous ENGAGING learning experience 
  • Keep the learning momentum through repetitive learning experience.
  • Provide horizontal learning & development opportunities through projects.
  • Mix face-to-face training with online training.
  • Choose training content that engage:  Video is a huge part of how Millennials take in information : its fits their personal habits!
  • Gamify the learning experience: This generation has been raised on computer and video games. Play it to your advantage!

Over a third of this generation said they would be more interested in an employer if it offered exceptional training and development opportunities.


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