Learning in the new millennial


So much written about Millennials suggests that they are turned off by the way generations before them have done things. As someone engaged in professional learning this interests me.

Millennials, it would seem, are more civic and community minded than their predecessors. Lacking the financial security from which their parents have benefitted they are not as interested in a career path as generations before them. Instead, meaningful work, creative outlets and immediate, interactive feedback mean a lot. One only needs to look at a random selection of start-ups  to see this behaviour in evidence.

What does this mean for those of us now who work in more traditional institutions, based on and run by baby boomers or Gen X-ers? It’s an important question because bigger and slower moving organisations still need to employ, engage and retain millennials.

An issue of engagement

68% of millennials say that they would not stay in with the same employer longer than three years, a 2017 Deloitte survey found. Not content with what they have, they want change and a new challenge. This taps into another common trait of millennials: the need for significance and recognition.

This presents a conundrum. We may not want to reward and promote people who are relatively new to our workplace, but we also don’t want to lose them. So how can they be engaged?

Given their lack of disposable income , away from the workplace millennials value recreational experiences far more than material acquisitions.

Can we use this to think about engagement in the workplace? Well, if millennials aren’t staying for the money and they’re not staying as for a life-long career, what’s going to hold on to them? The notion that what they are doing is worthwhile, for sure. But beyond that what as employers can we offer?

A new way of reward

It has to be something different. More pay might not be on the cards and we can’t change what the company does, but we can change how we engage with people.

Engage the millennial workforce by investing in innovative ways to help them learn. By placing importance on community and shared experiences, you make all your people feel that they in it for others as well as themselves.

One area we can look to for this is theatre. In the UK small-scale independent theatre is going through an incredible renaissance. One booming area is experiential theatre, where the line between performer and audience is blurred. Using this experiential approach to learning is a great way to engage people.

I am biased. My approach is to bring theatre into learning. That said, I can think of no other way to create meaningful connections between people, and between people and ideas, than to engage them with the creative force of theatre. This doesn’t mean putting on plays or engaging in awkward role plays. It means creating experiences for people at work that transcend their everyday experience. Offer them another perspective on what they do and who they do it with.


Theatre has always been a transformative experience. The workplace is transforming. Millennials, if they aren’t already, will be running the firms we work at in the next 10-20 years, that means the workplace will change whether we like it or not.

Are you going to be ahead of the curve by creating a place people want to work at now or are you going to wait for them to do it?


Author: Charlie Walker-Wise

Client Director and Tutor at RADA in Business, London. LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/charlie-walker-wise-51274826

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