Millennials and younger workers are particularly critical of employer learning and development (L&D) programs, according to Harvard Business Publishing’s 2018 State of Leadership Development Report. The study, a result of a partnership with Global 2000 companies, found that only 40% of employees age 36 and younger described their companies’ L&D programs as “excellent,” compared with 67% of baby boomers.
While all age groups cited time constraints as their biggest problem with L&D programs, millennials and younger employees were more likely than older workers to criticize programs for having poor content, lacking sufficient expertise from external sources and failing to show a return on investment.
Other key findings in the report show that only half of millennials think program content is strongly aligned with business issues, compared with 75% of boomers. Also, millennials want to see more innovation in L&D programs, specifically gamification, social media, simulation, video and mobile.
Millennials’ view of L&D programs may be quite important, as many of them actively seek them out at the organizations they join, various studies show. Career development is an invaluable retention tool in today’s talent market, especially as salaries remain somewhat stagnant — but it is one that few employers seem to be taking advantage of. According to a Gallup study, only 7% of employees advance in their careers with their current employers.
But for development to serve as the retention advantage it can be, employers will have to ensure it’s modernized and relevant. In designing L&D programs, HR leaders can look to millennials and all employees for feedback on various program components and consider rising trends, including micro-learning, video and collaboration platforms.
Employers also can seek to engage managers more thoroughly in the process. According to Gartner findings, only four out of 10 employees believe their manager is helping them develop the skills they need to perform their work. For that to change, employers may need to focus on manager training as well.