Engaging the next generation with hard skills training


Recent studies have shown Millennials change jobs at a rate three times that of older generations. As a result, much has been written about attracting and retaining younger talent.1 So how should your organization alter its approach to increased turnover among Millennials and be better prepared to retain Generation Edge as they enter the workforce? Hard skills training is a great option when it comes to developing and improving ways to retain your younger employees.

Before we get started, let’s get an understanding of hard skills. These skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be defined and measured. Examples of hard skills include obtaining a Series 6 license or learning a foreign language. So how can you teach recruits the hard skills necessary to allow them to hit the ground running (and keep running) in your company?

Start with onboarding. Most people assume onboarding only includes an overview of employee benefits. However, it regularly contains elements of hard skills training as well. And that training— often in a classroom setting with a computer-based course, static content and perhaps a quiz at the end—sets the tone for the work to come. This model of training is unlikely to resonate with younger generations who grew up with educators emphasizing collaboration. So, short of redesigning your training, what’s the best way to engage and retain Millennials and Gen Edge employees from the moment you hire them?


Wikis are community-sourced information used as a quick reference tool covering the hard skills that keep you in business; the most famous example of this style of knowledge sharing is (of course) Wikipedia. Wikis are great tools for creating and maintaining a repository of information on your company intranet. For instance, job-related wikis can be easily edited as new procedures, products or best practices are added.

Instead of taking a 60-minute training course or combing through a backlog of emails for the answer to a question about a procedure, tech-savvy Millennials and Edgers will appreciate the ability to find the information they’re looking for quickly and efficiently. Additionally, since wikis have a community-sourced component, younger employees will value the ability to contribute as their knowledge grows. Best of all, you can recognize and leverage the vast amount of experience your other employees possess. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Discussion groups

Either due to cost or time constraints, many hard skills training programs end up being a passive experience for employees. For example, dull lectures and dated workbooks are both generally thought of as chores best gotten through quickly and are rarely regarded as inspiring. If you don’t have the time or resources to redesign your training program to be more hands-on, consider adding a discussion group component. Discussion groups can be organized by team or job function and would give employees a chance to take ownership in training (a big draw for Millennials). Best of all, you’ll be able to facilitate intergenerational communication and knowledge sharing among all generations, including Gen Edge.


Some friendly competition is a great way to motivate and engage people with your training! Any scored activity, like quizzes or simulations, can be used as the basis for company-wide leaderboards. Competition can be among individuals based on a personal score, or, to build a spirit of collaboration, combine scores to create departmental or regional competition. Even small prizes or other forms of recognition at yearly or quarterly meetings will get employees in the competitive spirit, boost morale and further your team’s training.


It is common practice for advanced training skills to build on one another, where learning one skill requires mastering another. Because younger employees tend to be focused on their career trajectory, they always want to be learning and growing. Providing a certification track within your training program could be a great way to give new talent the sense that they are advancing toward something while providing them with purpose and direction within your company.

Training doesn’t have to be a drag! In fact, it could be the perfect way for your company to set itself apart from the rest. Strive to be a progressive company, one that incorporates unique, engaging and enriching training. Prove to your new talent you are invested in their development. If you show you are in it for the long haul, you increase the likelihood your employees will be as well. You may find it results in a lower turnover of your Millennial and Gen Edge personnel, or at the very least creates a more engaged workforce during their time with you.

1Adkins, A. (2018). Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation. [online] Gallup.com. Retrieved from Gallup.

This information is prepared in part by an unrelated independent third party, BridgeWorks, and is provided for informational purposes only. Ivy Distributors, Inc., believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.