5 Ways to Keep Millennials Engaged in Training

A training manager, an HR director and a restaurant operator walk into a bar. They sit down grab a drink and start talking about how they’re going to deal with the turnover issue. Meanwhile, back behind the bar is a 20-something server talking about the inefficient processes he has to deal with because the bar […]

A training manager, an HR director and a restaurant operator walk into a bar. They sit down grab a drink and start talking about how they’re going to deal with the turnover issue.

Meanwhile, back behind the bar is a 20-something server talking about the inefficient processes he has to deal with because the bar isn’t using any scheduling or inventory software – which was something he couldn’t live without at his last gig.

There’s nothing particularly funny about this “walked into a bar” joke, other than the fact that it’s a real-life look at the tug-of-war happening between employees looking for a great place to work and an employer trying to figure out what, according to a Millennial, makes a “great place to work.”

By 2020, Millennials are predicted to make up 50 percent of the workforce. That number goes up to 75 percent by 2025. By now, you’ve probably got this statistic tattooed to your head – or at least, it feels like it.

Yes, it’s true, Millennials have a whole new set of hopes, dreams and desires that are different from their Baby Boomer and Gen-X predecessors. And yes, you get it already – you’ve got to cater to them to win the War for Talent.

Around the HotSchedules office, we have conversations with the restaurant industry every single day. And some of the biggest conversations we’re having right now are around restaurants training challenges .

Which makes sense because after the process of getting hired, training is the first experience an employee has with your company. Ineffective on-boarding or training that fails to engage this group from the get-go (and over the long term) makes a difference in everyone’s ability to succeed.

So how do you make your training so awesome that your Millennial workforce can’t ignore you? Here are a few suggestions:

Set the Right Expectations from the Start

There’s no point in beating around the bush with this group. Frankly, there is no bush and even if there was, they see right through it. Millennials want to know what is expected of them right away, without any corporate sugarcoating.

The most common question Millennials want answered is, “How does this training benefit me?” Does that fit into the selfish stigma they’ve been given? Sort of.

Underneath that “me, me, me” is the fact that most Millennials are purpose-driven. They don’t want to be told what to do for the sake of it – they want to understand how they impact the bigger picture. The chances of keeping a Millennial engaged in training will decrease if they don’t think the training actually applies to the job or to this bigger picture.

Career development and encouragement are also important to this group – 45 percent of millennials want education, and 72 percent value the chance to learn new skills.. Smart employers can use this to their advantage.

Let’s say you have a young hostess interested in making more money serving. Leverage a career training track (built in an e-learning system like Clarifi Talent Development ) and put the ball in their court. If they really want to make the move – and you think they can handle it – they’ll need to study up and do the necessary work to earn the promotion or job change.

Be Tech-Savvy

The oldest Millennials entering your workplace grew up on PowerPoint and projectors. Your younger Millennials, on the other hand, spent their formative years on social media. For most of them, technology isn’t just woven into their lives – it is literally their lives. It makes sense, then, that training should be a mix between e-learning and on-the-job training.

The research backs it up: 81 percent of limited-service restaurants are deploying e-learning in their training and seeing immediate benefits.

Why is e-learning so important? It keeps your employees engaged, and in control of their own learning process. Studies have shown that elearning is proven to increase knowledge retention amongst employees by 25 to 60 percent.

Gamify It

Millennials want their worlds to be social and collaborative. Training shouldn’t be any different. Employers like MonkeyPod Kitchen and Bianchini’s are turning to e-learning software to facilitate and foster that collaboration and rewards system, garnering tangible results. Clarifi Talent Development, for example, builds that social piece with leaderboards, badge systems, certifications and chatter feeds.

Make it Visual

Millennials tend to pay more attention to stories and posts with visuals and your training should mirror that. Sprinkle training with infographics that help Milennials digest information in a fun and informative, yet content-rich format.

Consider these stats:

    • 75 percent of millennials visit YouTube monthly
    • Millennials spent three hours per day on their mobile phones
    • For every $1 that companies invest in e-learning, they get back $30 in productivity! How’s that for a return on investment?

Engage a Mentor

Seventy-nine percent of Millennials want their boss to act as more of a coach or mentor than as a superior. If you’re like most restaurant managers, you’re already strapped for time (understatement of the year!). But before you write off the idea of a mentor program because it seems difficult to build and support, consider what some executives and industry leaders have said about mentoring.

In a recent article on QSR Magazine, Leonard Comma, president and chief operating officer at Jack in the Box, put it perfect when he said “great mentors understand that people better retain knowledge through experience rather than through what is taught in a classroom. As a result, mentoring is a practice of leading by example.”

Ella Brennan, considered the matriarch of the New Orleans Creole food scene, and an innovator in restaurant service and management (she was credited with the creation of food runners to expedite service), was famous for her mentoring activities she put for the benefit of her chefs at Commander’s Palace. She instituted “foodie meetings” at her restaurant every Saturday that lasted for close to two hours. Chefs were charged with bringing ideas on how to make the restaurant’s food and cocktail menu “fresher”. She also gave books on management and communication to her lead chefs and kitchen managers, grilling them on their lessons.

Her mentoring programs led the Brennan family brand to grow to 12 restaurants in the Greater New Orleans area, with several chefs and managers heading up their own hospitality groups nationwide, including Emeril Lagasse.

Once implemented, the results are powerful for both the employee and the organization.

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