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Engaging with the quitting generation — retaining Millennials in the workplace

Twenty-somethings are notoriously hard to retain as employees. They can become disengaged and disaffected, waiting for their next performance bonus so that they can quit and do something – anything – else. The workplace challenge is for managers to retain skilled teams and provide the opportunity for professional development. One effective way to do this is to speak to them in their own language.

The message they carry with them is one that can sabotage their own success story. They’ve been told “you can be anything you want to”, and while a few make it through the minefield of business startups, others find themselves in regular office positions, working long hours in a repetitive environment with no affirmation. Even highly-qualified graduates find themselves being disciplined for not fulfilling mundane tasks simply because business tech has developed at such a pace that they’ve fallen behind.

In a customer service environment this can damage the reputation of the brand, when angry or bored team members come into contact with customers.

Training for success

Training sessions remove the workforce from the workplace and may not provide practical insights for application into a particular context. One solution to this is on-the-job e-learning. This has several benefits for management and employees, especially since it can be built to the exact environment where the skills will be used.

Millennials need engagement as individuals, they’re quick to get annoyed if they feel isolated and ill-equipped, but also don’t want to feel micro-managed. E-learning provides the opportunity to improve skills while at work, but can be done in such a way that managers are able to engage with the process, too.

  • E-learning benefits
  • Reduced training costs
  • Decreased travel expenses
  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Pro-active learning and skills development
  • Full reporting for effective monitoring

For Millennials, staying too long in one position isn’t viewed as healthy when it comes to a career path, but companies don’t want to lose their workforce every two years. E-learning assists in providing opportunities for growth as well as allowing the company to constantly introduce technology updates without disrupting the workflow.

It’s just training, though, and, in itself, cannot provide an entire solution. Management must be hands-on, especially during the e-learning process and in the implementation of developed skills.

It takes engaged management to engage with teams, to help them in skills (and personal) development. This engagement is central to the success of on-site training and workplace e-learning.
E-learning can be implemented as on-the-job training. For example, in a sales environment, an agent could earn accreditation or points for completing sales courses or product training. This could be done in isolation or across the contact centre floor allowing agents to compete for virtual badges. In some environments e-learning has been structured using gaming principles, so that a Millennial generation that has grown up around console games can relate to training via using competition and virtual rewards to improve performance and develop skills.

E-learning assists managers in getting access to the proven skills of the team as well as areas that require attention. Someone who takes much longer to complete a short module may be less effective in dealing with customers in a context that requires speed and efficiency. Monitoring and further training can expose problem areas and assist in addressing these.

In a contact centre environment, e-learning can also be used to turn idle time into productive time. During off-peak periods, agents can complete training modules to pro-actively improve performance and develop skills instead of sitting around, waiting for the odd call to come through.

It’s a great method of optimising workplace efficiency as it places an emphasis on the individual with proven results – reporting on training in the case of team members attending a third party course can be tedious, but in e-learning managers have access to all of the data that informs the employee profiles and reports on performance.

There’s a sense of achievement in e-learning that feeds the short-term need for affirmation in a younger workforce, but it’s a powerful tool in that it can keep the workforce up-to-date in terms of how the company is dealing with customers. If business solutions such as updated tech are implemented, e-learning is a fast, effective way of ensuring that customers don’t suffer while agents try to learn new systems.

Of course, Millennials may come and go, but e-learning saves on expensive training courses so that the risk of the training investment in human capital is minimized, and, if team members are lost, new team members can be brought up to speed, limiting the damage control sometimes required in the event of staff turnover.

Author | Wynand Smit

Wynand Smit
Wynand Smit is CEO at INOVO, a company that specialises in contact centre optimisation More