Learning & Development

Creating Leadership Programs for Millennials

 Millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025, yet very few organizations create leadership programs for them.1 And as a result, around 40% of Millennials leave their jobs within the first 2 years to search for advancement opportunities elsewhere,2 costing businesses billions of dollars every year.
Here’s how to create leadership programs that will retain Millennials now, while preparing them for the future global workforce they’ll oversee.

Emphasize ‘Career Development Opportunities,’ not Just ‘Training’

A surprising 87% of Millennials claim that professional or career growth and development opportunities are important to them when selecting and keeping a job. However, slightly fewer than one in two Millennials strongly agree that they have been provided with opportunities to learn and grow in the past year. Additionally, most Millennials don’t think development opportunities should only come with tenure, and they prefer real-life, hands-on training methods. They want managers and trainers to find ways to invest in their futures, fine-tune their skills, and coach them to become the best workers they can be today and every day. Here are some things to include in your leadership programs for Millennials:

  • Cross-training involving different departments
  • Specialty projects for stakeholders (e.g., annual reports, planning special events)
  • Opportunities to lead important meetings and manage complex projects

Offer Opportunities to Make Social Impact

About three-quarters of Millennials view business as a force for positive social impact in the world.2 And they are more likely to be engaged by business-led initiatives that positively impact the globe in some capacity. By offering opportunities to be involved with “good causes” at the local level, employers help their Millennials to start feeling a greater sense of influence and to gain the leadership experience they want. Have them organize an event for an organization your company sponsors, ask them to manage marketing materials for a social-impact event on social media, or encourage them to take on special business projects where they can see the impact it makes in the world. This is one of the best ways to develop and retain your future Millennial leaders.

Keep It Customized and Flexible. There Is No ‘One Size Fits All’

While Millennials want to be invested in social-impact opportunities, they still want leadership opportunities that are catered to their specific career trajectories and aspirations. So, you’ll need to tailor your leadership programs around each person in your program, and make them flexible for when things change. This may seem like a lot of work at first, but empowered Millennials will be happy to tell you what they want to learn and what role they want to own within the next 5 years. On a rolling basis, have them design a leadership path for themselves, which you and their supervisors fine-tune and approve, as they receive feedback and learn. Work with Millennials to design their development opportunities, and always provide them with clear performance metrics and expectations. Millennials are also keen on straight-forward communication and they relish feedback—and expect to receive it often.2
Ultimately, if you want to create a successful leadership program for Millennial employees, make sure it’s tailored to individuals, and empowers them to be the leaders they want to be for social impact.

  1. Leadership Development for Millennials Not Seen As a Priority.” Accessed 12/1/2017
  2. The 2017 Deloitte Millennial Survey.” Accessed 12/1/2017