Growing concerns: how can managers provide the right development opportunities?
It goes without saying that the business environment has undergone massive changes in recent years. Globalisation, erratic economic fluctuation and technological development are altering our workplaces beyond all recognition. Organisations are becoming less hierarchical; they’re traversing a turbulent tide of continuous transformation; and they’re having to rapidly adapt to technology which was the stuff of sci-fi not even a couple of decades ago. We’re experiencing a silent revolution – and it’s not just our workplaces that are being affected; it’s the people in them too.
We’re transitioning from the Boomer and X Generations to the more technology-savvy, aspirational folks of the Millennial generation. People who’ve grown up with smartphones, social media, and endless internet cat videos. And they’ve brought with them a greater desire for personal and career development in the workplace.
Whereas the Boomer generation typically stayed in one job with one company for the majority of their working lives, that’s not what Millennials are after. They’ll only stay if there are good opportunities for development and growth.
In fact, nowadays, a lack of future career opportunities is the number one reason why people quit their jobs[i]. And since 79 percent of business and HR leaders worldwide believe they have a significant engagement and retention problem[ii], combined with the fact that 91 percent of Millennials expect to stay in a job for fewer than just three years[iii], it’s a situation that needs dealing with, head on – right now.
So along with growing concerns about business security and competition, business leaders need to also acknowledge the changing needs of their Millennial employees. They don’t want to be stuck on repeat their entire careers – they want to be able to advance their skills, professionally develop, and face new exciting challenges and opportunities. And they want to be able to grow.
The workplace is a fantastic environment to stimulate personal and professional growth. First of all, if employees are engaged in their jobs, they’ll naturally want to learn new skills and increase their knowledge. And second, the workplace is also great for stimulating learning.
Although different teams often perform different roles, that doesn’t mean knowledge can’t be shared. And knowledge shared is knowledge gained. Sharing knowledge leads to greater creativity, innovation, and teamwork – and that means entire teams can grow and develop together on the road to expertise and success.
87% of Millennials say development opportunities are important in a job[iv] – but less than half say they’ve had such opportunities in the past year[v]. It’s not a question of feeling ‘entitled’ to opportunity – it’s driven more from a sense of empowerment. They want to learn, they want to enhance their skills, and most of all, they want their work to have meaning and contribute something to the organisation.
So why wouldn’t managers tap into all that buried potential? By providing development opportunities, so employees will give enhanced productivity in return. However, different employees will seek different opportunities. Every employee has their own unique strengths and talents – and it’s these from which the right opportunities will stem.
We all have unique core drivers or motivators. They influence our behaviour and actions, as well as our personal talents and strengths. They can also help to pinpoint the work tasks that suit us best, and along which career paths the best opportunities for personal and professional development might lie.
Understanding employees’ motivators means that managers can gauge these opportunities and support employees in the ways that work best for them. And by doing so, they can encourage greater engagement, productivity, and organisational success.
Perhaps providing Millennial employees with chances to develop their skills might be just the tactic business leaders need to tame the wild waves of change?
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[i] “Strengthening the Global Leadership Pipeline: Build Management Capabilities to Keep Pace with Growth Strategies.” Cebglobal.com. Last modified 2012. Available at:
[ii] Stephan, Michael, Henri Vahdat, Hugo Walkinshaw, and Brett Walsh. “Global Human Capital Trends 2015: Engaging the 21st-Century Workforce.” Deloitte University Press. Last modified 2014. Available at:
[iii] Meister, Jeanne. “Job Hopping Is the ‘New Normal’ for Millennials: Three Ways to Prevent a Human Resource Nightmare.” Forbes. Last modified August 14, 2012. Available at:
[iv] Adkins, A. and Rigoni, B. (2016). ‘Millennials Want Jobs to Be Development Opportunities’. Gallup Business Journal. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/193274/millennials-jobs-development-opportunities.aspx
[v] Adkins, A. and Rigoni, B. (2016). ‘Millennials Want Jobs to Be Development Opportunities’. Gallup Business Journal. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/193274/millennials-jobs-development-opportunities.aspx