Millennials in Professional Development

Insights & Resources

Millennials Series: Professional Development + Leadership

Millennials in Professional Development

Millennials are the largest living generation and the fastest growing workforce segment, so you need to know how to attract and retain them. In this series, we’ve discussed how this generation seeks purpose + desires innovation in the workplace and is described as being team-oriented + driven by shared learning.

Next up, we focus on how Millennials seek professional development to maximize leadership skills and growth potential.

Engagement: Making Leaders Out of Millennials

Want to attract and retain Millennials? Keep them engaged. According to LinkedIn, Millennials are far more curious than their professional predecessors. Because they seek ample opportunities to learn, offer measurable programs that outline career advancement and provide frequent feedback.

One article we’ve seen argues, “Ongoing performance assessments may be the key to employee retention.” This is particularly important with Millennials—a demographic that craves feedback but is also notorious for job-hopping. In fact, 42% of Millennials reported in a recent LinkedIn survey that they took a new role because the new employer offered more career advancement options.

Be sure to visibly showcase your company’s commitment to professional development. Your learning opportunities should be featured in your company’s branding efforts, including job descriptions, interviews, website and social media.

What Type of Engagement Pays Off Most?

The HR Gazette encourages employers to avoid formal classroom training and e-learning. Here’s some alternatives to those methods.

Mentorship Programs

“Millennial workers want mentorships and strong coaches,” according to the PwC report “Millennials at Work: Reshaping the Workplace.” Twenty-eight percent of Millennials valued this type of engagement over any other training options.


Millennials also favor cross-training, defined as “changes and rotations of role to gain experience.” Potential benefits include your employees gaining a new perspective about their current roles, which can help them solve problems, and increasing familiarity with different areas of the company, which may enhance future leadership.

Collaboration with Colleagues

Millennials also value collaborating with respected colleagues. This connection could be realized via Lunch + Learn events, office workshops and guest speakers. Continuing Education programs and online learning platforms could also promote professional collaboration.

Are Companies Delivering?

The verdict is out on whether corporations are getting the Millennial message about engagement. One study revealed “84 percent of employees don’t feel that their employers provide career-planning resources. And 70 percent said their employers don’t guide professional growth within their organization.” With those percentages, it’s no wonder we see so many résumés with multiple job stops.

Another important takeaway from this study revealed that Millennials care more about thepromise of purpose and fulfillment” than cold, hard cash when navigating career moves—even if the result is a lateral move. Therefore, implementing professional development opportunities could save your company money in the long-term.

Investment in Professional Development Pays Off

Investment in engagement not only attracts and retains Millennials, but it pays off big-time for the company. A Harvard blog states, “In businesses with highly engaged teams, profitability increased by 21 percent, sales productivity by 20 percent, and output quality by 40 percent.” Those are real, tangible results.

Millennial Maintenance

Delivering engaging professional development options that strengthen leadership skills and maximize potential not only help attract and retain Millennials, but also has the added benefit of increasing employee loyalty—something in short supply these days.

Next up in our Series, we’ll investigate how work-life balance and flexibility can make your Millennial employees your firm’s future leaders.