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Quenching Millennials’ thirst for professional development

A Boston Business Journal series

Meeting Millennials where they are means investing in leadership development—retention of them requires it.

Quenching Millennials’ thirst for professional development

An employer’s perspective, as shared by William K. Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte LLP

As discussed in my previous posts, it is no secret that Millennials are, to put it in simple terms, taking over. Not only do members of this generation comprise a majority of today’s workforce (surpassing Generation X in 2015), but studies show that by 2020, Millennials will comprise an even larger share (75 percent) of the labor market.

Because anyone born after 1982 is considered a Millennial, we’ve already started to see some Millennials taking leadership positions. As Baby Boomers retire, older, more professionally experienced, Millennials are often assuming vacant leadership roles. While there may be some challenges as a new generation of leaders takes over, there are also great opportunities for business leaders (including increased talent retention).

As executives, we are able to cultivate the leadership development programs that Millennials crave. Not only does this give us, experienced professionals, a chance to share the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years, but also allows us to help members of our millennial workforce gain the necessary confidence to lead our organizations in the future.

Research shows that Millennials want to spend more time improving their leadership abilities, through development programs. Specifically, in an ideal work week, Millennials would like to see the time devoted to leadership skills development increase by two-thirds.

Survey results show that right now, on average, employers dedicate 2.7 hours per week to professional development; Millennials would like to see this increase to 4.5 hours per week.

Investing this time in building leadership skills not only for Millennials but for all professionals may result in stronger future leaders for organizations, as well as help retain talent. Millennials who are satisfied with their development opportunities, including mentoring, are twice as likely to stay with a company than those Millennials who are unsatisfied.

At Deloitte, we pride ourselves on being a place where leaders, of all generations, can thrive. Perhaps the most tangible example of our commitment to leadership development is Deloitte University, our leadership and learning center in Westlake, Texas. Here, we offer leadership classes, training, and the opportunity for networking. The importance of face-to-face learning is showcased at Deloitte University.

In addition to the training offered at Deloitte University, we also provide opportunities for our professionals to take on-demand training programs through our online learning portal, or enroll in live, instructor-led programs held at our offices. Through these programs, our people take ownership of their careers—and it helps fill Deloitte’s leadership pipeline with a diverse mix of high-performing professionals.

As I’ve written in the past, another important part of leadership development programs, including those for Millennials, is mentorship. Millennials often benefit from hearing advice from those who are currently in leadership positions. However, instead of stopping at mentorship, why not take it one step further and incorporate “sponsorship” programs into your organization. These programs will not only benefit Millennials but will provide opportunities for all professionals. Sponsors’ chief role is to develop their team member into a leader. In fact, at Deloitte, career sponsors, and program participants come up with development plans that are tailored to that participant. This way, sponsors have a vested interest, and participants have support from someone who can vouch for them.

As Deloitte US's CEO, Cathy Engelbert explained to Bloomberg News, “I think the key for everyone is around getting a sponsor in your organization… Those sponsors to me have been so important… I never aspired to be the CEO but I did aspire to lead because someone early in my career gave me that great advice to build your capability.”

At Deloitte, and likely at your organization, people are our greatest assets. As business leaders, we should encourage a long tenure. I encourage you to help shape Millennials’ leadership skills, through expanding professional development, including growing, and developing mentorship, and sponsorship programs. For more information on how to support millennial professional development, check out The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016.

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Millennials who are satisfied with their development opportunities, including mentoring, are twice as likely to stay with a company than those Millennials who are unsatisfied.

The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016: Winning over the next generation of leaders

Millennials, in general, express little loyalty to their current employers and many are planning near-term exits, according to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited’s fifth annual Millennial survey.

This remarkable absence of allegiance represents a serious challenge to any business employing a large number of Millennials, especially those in markets—like the United States—where Millennials now represent the largest segment of the workforce. However, because most young professionals choose organizations that share their personal values, it’s not too late for employers to overcome this “loyalty challenge.”

Deloitte surveyed nearly 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries during September and October 2015 to learn more about Millennials’ values and ambitions, drivers of job satisfaction, and their increasing representation in senior management teams.

Read the Deloitte Millennial survey 2016 to learn more about Millennials in the workforce.

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