The Hard Reality Facing Organizational Learning and Development

The Hard Reality Facing Organizational Learning and Development


There is a big black cloud quickly moving in on companies all over the world.  As most would expect, it has something to do with the device you have pulled out of your pocket 150 times already today.  Organizations may think that they can avoid the storm moving in their direction by going mobile with their technologies.  Unfortunately, that is not enough to keep this force of nature at bay.  This storm consists of millions of millennials moving into the workforce, and they are coming in big waves.

 “Over 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025… Projections of the labor workforce 2050

These talented people are more comfortable with technology than any generation before them.  The smartphone has evolved with them through childhood; the tablet is a tool used not just for recreation but required for education; and social networking is the number one way that these millennials know how to communicate.

However, along with their highly sought-after technology skills, Millennials tend to be loyal to brands, not companies. The thought of staying with the same company for 35 years is as foreign to them as sourcing information from a printed encyclopedia or buying a CD at Best Buy. This way of thinking presents a new problem for organizations – high turnover.

“91% expect to stay in a job for less than three years…the average cost to replace each millennial employee is $24,000.” Job-hopping… Forbes

Adding to this problem is the fact that high performing Generation X and Baby Boomers with years of experience have either already retired or are quickly moving in that direction.

The reality is organizations aren’t going to move the needle by putting stale Power Point presentations or instructor-led training materials in a Learning Management System, on SharePoint, or on the Wiki. It’s important to remember when thinking about the way content is presented and created:

  • The human brain can process 275 words per minute in written form, and it can only hear 150 words per minute
  • The average attention span of the Millennial generation is 90 seconds, so the first 7 seconds is critical

At the end of the day we are in a results-driven world where the people want to feel as though the content they consume is improving them professionally.  Think of our personal lives…we seek and consume information not just to educate ourselves, but also to entertain and enhance our minds.

In order to keep up, organizations must be innovative in the way they educate and engage talent.