All it took was five seconds. This past summer, I saw my small cousin waddle over to a phone, unlock the device, and within moments, navigate to cartoons from the comfort of his play pen. As a one-year-old, he had more trouble walking to the device than using it. That’s the trend of things today. The present and upcoming generations crave the knowledge of how to do something now—not later, not in a few years when dues and time have been paid—right now.
As baby boomers approach retirement, millennials are entering the workforce in droves— outnumbering other generations by 2020, Gallup reports—and disrupting the standard procedure of talent development. This reality means there will soon be gaps in leadership benches around the world. In order to hire and retain new talent to fill these spots, the modern workplace must be ready to meet them with the knowledge they’re seeking. In 2017, engagement will take center stage as the workforce asks for better employee development, benefits, and mentoring. These initiatives are no longer nice-to-have, they’re a necessity.
Millennials: You Can’t Afford to Keep Them Waiting
Digital immersion has molded this generation, creating a culture of instant fulfilment. Uber, Amazon and Netflix are symbols of a generation that is tired of hailing taxis, waiting in shopping lines and watching 30 second advertisements (an eternity in today’s world).
For these digital natives, instant answers and customization are always on the table. So why should it be any different in the working or academic world? While millennials express their dissatisfaction with the current workplace system, overwhelmingly, 65% say they would stay longer at a job if managers simply showed interest in them as individuals. They expect to conduct their professional lives in the same manner as their personal lives, receiving instant feedback rather than waiting for an annual performance review.
This new workforce doesn’t just act differently. Their entire composition is different. The influx of women and varying ethnicities has changed the face of the average student, employee, and even CEO. What worked for the previous generations isn’t working for this one. Organizations need to adapt to these changing needs, as there will only be more of them in the coming years. Those that disregard them will find consequences in the gaps of their leadership or the shortcomings of their financial returns. Accepting the differences is the easy part. Now, what to do about it.
Better Learning Culture Equals Better Business
Daily lessons are no longer reserved for school children. Lifelong or continuous learning has woven its way into best practices for adults too. And it doesn’t start at the door of the working world. The concept and realization of mentoring is vital from a young age to adulthood, ideally a partnership between higher education and the workplace, to prepare students and alumni to enter the workforce. They’ll be better equipped with lessons of knowledge transfer and constructive feedback that encourages real world testing and iteration within the workforce—the very things that spur innovation.
Enforcing this active learning culture from onboarding and beyond will prioritize the engagement this new generation begs for. It also contributes to the collaboration and diversity of ideas that Bersin reports creates a more empowered enterprise for the future. Building a culture where employees can ask questions of peers and mentors, tackle tasks beyond current skill levels, and take ownership of new knowledge or skill development will incentivize “higher employee productivity, higher customer satisfaction, and cost competitiveness.”
The growing methods in mentoring accessibility and program formats provide immediate options for improved talent development.
Modern Mentoring for the Modern Workplace
Mentoring is no longer just an older employee imparting knowledge to a younger employee. It’s no longer just in-person conversations, or a good deed activity. Today there’s a plethora of initiatives that make up modern mentoring:
• New Mentoring Formats – Tracking mentoring programs through spreadsheets, half-baked solutions and paperwork is outdated and not scalable. With software, new types of mentoring programs can be initiated, sustained, and scaled. And it’s not limited to career mentoring. It’s about growing cross-departmental connections with the likes of mentoring circles, where participants from all levels of the organization propose and own a topic for discussion. From flash mentoring and reverse mentoring to peer coaching and buddy programs, one size and flavor no longer fits all organizations or their talent goals.
• Mentoring To Go – As the laptop replaced the desktop, the mobile phone is replacing the laptop. The modern workforce expects everything to be available at their fingertips, including access to their mentor. When 92% of adults own a cellphone and check it on average 46 times a day, the need to expand to mobile engagement is glaring. In launching our iOS and Android mobile apps this year, we’ve already seen a 47% increase in program engagement across our mobile experience and a 34% increase in participation.
• Cold, Hard ROI – A mentoring program for the sake of having one will no longer be enough to satisfy the modern workforce or an organization’s bottom line. Mentoring’s proof of concept period is over. By now, the benefits of mentoring are documented. It’s time to stabilize and sustain these programs. It’s imperative to prove their impact through meaningful, in-depth data or risk losing program funding to other priorities, or top talent to competitors who can show proven impact.
As the world spins towards instant satisfaction and more toddlers turn to technology toys over picture books, so the modern workforce craves more instant learning and advice. Mentoring is a key component to keeping the present and approaching workforce happy. Staying on the frontlines of mentoring evolutions will keep talent engaged, productive, and constantly learning. As we at Chronus look to 2017, we are excited to help institutions worldwide tackle this shift in the workforce, prioritize continuous learning, and provide the necessary tools to ensure a healthy, productive talent evolution through the power of mentoring.