As of 2016, millennials are the largest generation in the labor workforce. By now you would think companies would have a good handle on who they are and how they work.  But if you look at any of the countless book or articles on millennials, you’ll find many contradictory statements.

Depending on what corner of the internet you’re in, millennials are socially conscious and motivated, or they are entitled and lazy.  What does the research say about this generation? What do they say about themselves?

A key question from the last several years is; how do millennials learn best? 

The rise of technology and the digitalization of the millennial generation has led to increased use of relatively newer methods of training like gamification and mobile learning. We have focused on bringing learning to the devices millennials are already on. These modalities have been deemed as more appropriate for millennials than the traditional classroom. As a result, the amount of classroom training delivered has declined.

Is it possible that the elimination of classroom training is premature?

Consider this research. Deloitte recently conducted a large survey of 10,455 millennials and found that interpersonal skills were at the top of the list of work-essential skills that Millennials felt they lacked.

You don’t have to look beyond your local restaurant to see that millennials’ in-person social skills have suffered as a result of social media and texting. Rather than engage it’s easy for millennials to simply retreat to their phone or their online social network. In fact, 39% interact with their smartphone more than they do people.

So, while younger generations are extremely well versed in social media and other forms of online communication, they gained that expertise at least in part at the expense of developing their interpersonal skills.  The good news is millennials know they need opportunities to develop and hone their offline, in-person communications.

So how do their limited interpersonal skills match up against typical company needs?

Communication is consistently listed as an essential skill for workplace success and one of the most desired soft skills in job postings.

Classroom training is a great way for millennials to build these critical communication skills. One of the most effective aspects of any well-done classroom training is creating opportunities for students to interact with each other.  By mandating the interaction, students are forced to communicate with each other.

The best way to train for interpersonal skills is to have interpersonal communication.

Millennials like working in teams but at the same time they reportedly are lacking in the communication department. It may sound like a contradiction but upon further research, we found that millennials enjoy working in teams with members of their age group. They grew up a part of teams in sports and in school but in both cases, worked only with those in their same age range. Millennials tend to struggle when they are required to work in teams with members from different generations.

Teamwork is fundamental for an organization to be successful, so it’s important for your employees to know how to work collaboratively. Classroom training offers a great opportunity to break the social cliques and force millennial learners to communicate with other generations.

While it’s not a bad plan to make training ‘fun’ for millennials, the generation has shown a gap in communication and interpersonal skills that no amount of digital training can overcome.

If you want to get better at running, you have to run. If you want your millennial employees to get better at interpersonal communication, you must put them in situations where they can have interpersonal communications. Therefore, classroom training is still not only relevant but also necessary in some cases.

You don’t need to replace all of your training methods with classroom style – in fact, it is still suggested that you utilize a mix of training styles. However, maybe it is time to rediscover classroom training for millennials.

You can contact us if you would like to learn more about how you can develop your training strategy and how you can incorporate classroom training into your organization.