How Do Millennials Learn? 5 Challenges L&D Managers Face When Training Millennial Employees

How Do Millennials Learn 5 Challenges L&D Managers Face When Training Millennial Employees
Anatoliy Cherkas/
Summary: Millennials place a higher value on opportunities for training and development, but they also learn differently than the others. More traditional training programs have been proven to be less effective when it comes to training younger generations.

Solutions For Training Millennial Employees In The Workplace

Millennials are taking over the workforce. They are already currently the largest working generation. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics also predicts this percentage will grow to 75% by the year 2030 [1].

This is natural, as the baby boomer generation is already beginning to retire. However, the millennial generation is significantly different than the generations before them.

Personalized Learning Experiences: Gearing Up For The Millennial Workforce
Discover new approaches to better engage employees and prepare for the future of work.

Millennials place a higher value on opportunities for training and development, but they also learn differently than others. More traditional training programs have been proven to be less effective when it comes to training younger generations. In fact, a Gallup survey recently reported that more than 55% of working millennials are disengaged at work.

This has led many organizations and l&d professionals to search for learning strategies to help boost employee engagement. In addition to engagement, these programs aim to equip this generation with the skills they need to be successful, such as leadership and communication.

Common Challenges Learning Managers Face When Training Millennials

Millennials grew up differently than past generations and these differences impact the way they best work and learn. In 2009, a gap in work expectations and performance in working millennials was discovered by psychologist Christy Price. This gap is caused by some unique factors. Four of these factors significantly impact engagement and the effectiveness of training.


Millennials communicate differently. They are more comfortable with technology. They prefer text messages and emails to phone calls most of the time. Most employees in this generation use their phones up to 40 times a day. This often means they are more familiar with mobile learning and online learning environments.

Millennials also have different learning styles. They prefer training programs that provide choices and variety that caters to their preferences.


The global workforce is growing. More and more employees are beginning to work from home at least part of the time. Much of this change is due to millennial preferences.

Most employees in this generation value flexible schedules and unconventional office hours. They believe their value should not be measured by the amount of time they spend in the office, but by their contributions. Traditional Instructor-Led Training programs are less effective when it comes to training remote employees. This creates a unique challenge for L&D teams.


Millennials are also the generation that is most likely to become disengaged at work. This is concerning because they make up such a huge part of the current workforce. This generation desires to work for organizations that are investing in their development. If they feel disconnected, they will likely look elsewhere for better opportunities.

Providing employees with too much information will also lead to a decrease in engagement for this generation. Millennials grew up with access to the internet. They only value the most relevant information. Training programs for millennial employees need to be highly engaging and provide only the most relevant learning content.


Feedback is an important component of building rapport with this generation. Millennials desire more feedback than previous generations. They work well in collaborative environments. However, if they feel they are not getting the feedback and communication they need to move forward with their goals they will become disengaged.

Overcoming Training Challenges: 5 Top Strategies

1. Research-Based Methods

Millennials work best collaboratively, but they also have varied learning styles and prefer training that meets these needs.

One of the best ways to meet these needs through training is by using a blended learning strategy that uses multiple training delivery methods to keep audiences engaged. This usually involves a mixture of online learning and social learning strategies such as mentorship or group work in a classroom setting.

2. Relevance

The second R is Relevance. As mentioned before millennials are most interested in information that is relevant to them. This is a challenge because the current workforce is becoming increasingly diverse and they have different knowledge bases, learning styles, and backgrounds. It can be difficult to create a training program that covers all the bases without losing the interest of more experienced employees.

Creating customized learning experiences with personalized training programs is one way L&D professionals can overcome this challenge. Online training programs that are enhanced with advanced analytics and AI algorithms can create personalized learning paths that provide the most relevant learning content in a format that best suits the individual user.

3. Rationale

The third R stands for Rational. The millennial workforce likes to understand the reasoning behind instructions and rules they are to follow. This is important to keep in mind when creating learning content. It is not enough to simply state how a procedure must be done. If you want this generation to value and practice what they learn they must understand the rationale and its level of importance.

4. Relaxed Learning Environments

The fourth R refers to the general feel of the learning environment. This generation does not do so well with high-pressure learning environments. Relaxed flexible environments that provide lots of choices tend to yield the best results whether they are digital on in person.

5. Rapport

The last but not least R has to do with communication and working relationships. Although training for millennial employees is often heavily centered around eLearning, it is important to incorporate social learning into your blended program.

Millennials value healthy working relationships. They also motivate and inspire loyalty in this generation. This why mentorship programs and social learning components are often effective when training this group of employees. This also helps meet their need for feedback and collaboration.


The shift in the current workforce has created a substantial need for a new approach to Learning and Development. Today's learning programs need to be developed for diverse audiences and that includes the growing millennial workforce.

Quality Learning and Development opportunities that are designed with the millennial in mind will help you attract new talent and increase employee retention. This will also ensure that you have a workforce both skilled and engaged.

To learn more about future training trends and the millennial workforce, check out the eBook Personalized Learning Experiences: Gearing Up For The Millennial Workforce.


[1] The Rise of the Millennial Workforce