Magazine article Talent Development

Harnessing the Zeal of the Millennial Generation

Magazine article Talent Development

Harnessing the Zeal of the Millennial Generation

Article excerpt

Business goals are virtually inseparable from learning goals at NIIT Technologies Ltd., an India-based information technologies provider. Not only does its high-performing workforce drive revenue and maintain the company's competitive edge, but an enlightened corporate culture attracts and retains those career-minded employees.

"Our vision document states that the growth of the organization is derived from the growth of each one of us," explains Deepa Mukherjee, the company's head of training and development. She says individual learning is motivated within an ecosystem that is supported at every turn by the organization and tightly aligned with business goals. It also is fundamentally learner driven, she says.

Contrary to many workforce training philosophies, NIIT Technologies places the responsibility on learners to manage their career development, not the learning or HR departments. The company's role is to provide continuous encouragement, guidance, incentives, and ready access to learning content. It also offers career counseling and enhancement programs to help employees realize their ambitions.

To create this dynamic, the learning organization developed a training credit system called TRACK to award credits to employees who pursue specific modes of learning toward new competencies.

Accumulated credits are considered during each employee's learning progression and for promotions. Higher credits are awarded for pursuing initiatives that contribute to improving company-set capability baselines.

The credit system is aligned with business goals that are adjusted annually.The learning function plays a vital role in identifying and incubating new competencies that are required to achieve them.

It creates a competency development plan from each workshop's output, and selects "competency champions" to own and supervise the development plan for their respective competency areas. For example, to support resulting learning projects in emerging technology areas, champions provide training and oversee mentoring programs for teams that design the learning solution.

The credit system is incorporated into the training programs. If the planning exercise identifies a product management certification as critical, for example, the system drives a product manager--and those who aspire to be one--to pursue the required certification via the credits.

Not only does the credit system meet a fundamental business challenge, it also is part of a learning formula designed to fit the mindset of the restless and goal-oriented Millennial generation now entering the workplace, says Mukherjee.

"We took a deep dive into understanding the key needs of this population, and what it is they really value," she says. A task force comprised of learning representatives, business leaders, and high-performing young executives researched the generation's mindset and devised a solution.

The resulting study put an exclamation point on Millennials' worldwide reputation--that its members require an abundance of attention in general and specific guidance in particular about their career aspirations. The panel concluded that today's young workers desire career growth, recognition, clarity, faster growth, coaching and mentoring guidance, and freedom of choice. They also want frequent changes in their lives."

The study created an immediate challenge for the learning department since no system was in place to dispense the kind of one-on-one career advice sought by its Millennial employees. …

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