Managing Millennials: 4 Reasons why you need a Chief Learning Officer

How do you plan your organization’s future with millennials? Chief Learning Officers can be your key to the door. Here are 4 reasons how learning officers can protect the future and improve productivity.


How do you impinge your organization’s future on a generation that’s fickle and difficult to retain? Chief Learning Officers can fulfill the task, all this while taking your productivity through the roof.

Truth be told, there is a war for talent rages. Companies around the world are toe-to-toe in devising strategies to attract the best talent and retain them. As baby boomers exit the workforce and millennials take over, it is only going to become difficult. Retaining talent who loves to gig is tough. And millennials love it the most. A growing body of research, including a 2017 report by Deloitte shows,

Millennials opting out of the traditional workforce is rising. By 2020, overall self-employment in the US will triple to 42 million workers, with millennials leading the way.

The younger workforce does not respond to old ways of learning and is also volatile when it comes to exiting. This has necessitated firms to make a Chief Learning Officer (CLO) a core part of their talent management blueprints.

It is a purpose-driven position that blends business strategies with the organizational culture on the ground. Essentially, they mold employees’ skillsets as per the company’s goals and values. Some of the big companies that have a learning officer are Citigroup, Bank of America, HP, JP Morgan, McDonald's, Nike, MasterCard, among others.

Here are 4 reasons why CLOs are instrumental to the management of the millennial workforce.

  1. Employee retention

Millennials think about jobs as learning opportunities. They have a strong desire for development, and this is probably the biggest differentiator between them and generations that have come before.

Gallup’s latest report on “How Millennials want to work and live” reveals,

59% of the millennials say that opportunities to learn and grow are very crucial factors for them when applying for a job.

This generation has a strong desire for “being useful” and it is also their secret to retention. Furthermore, they expect the learning experiences to be of real value, not just cosmetic arrangements.

A learning officer whose job role is to deeply care about the development needs of an organization is the key to retaining a millennial workforce. Their job is to devise learning and development opportunities in conjunction with company goals, to know how each employee best learns, and allocate new responsibilities and tasks to employees to test and hone their newly gathered knowledge & skills.

  1. Leadership development

As the previous generation exits the workforce and the new generation takes over, making sure the latter is trained becomes of immense importance. Successful change-of-guard demands not letting the leadership vacuum exist.

Millennials are eager to learn and want their work and workplace to have meaning to them. These are the characteristics that a CLO can leverage to train and develop Avant grade leaders to spearhead the organization.  

A Chief Learning Officer picks the potentially capable leaders and trains them for the future and uncertainties that come with it. They are also proficient in proactively and thoughtfully opening conversations that millennials themselves feel hesitant to – such as the future they have seen in the company, career plans, among others.

  1. Succession planning

Studies suggest that organizations that promote leaders from within experience greater success rate than those who bring resources from their competitors.

CLOs oversee the overall performance of the managers and intervene when they need to be promoted, evaluated or L&D initiatives are to be developed for them. This routine helps learning officers be at their top game for the organization’s succession planning, whether it be done from existing talent or one from outside.

By being aware of the pulse of the millennial workforce, they help companies successfully promote and nurture future leaders and supervise them. They identify possible candidates equipped to become future leaders, design a L&D succession plan, make suggestions, mark targets and undertake regular reviews.

  1. Performance Optimization

The problem is people hate their jobs! Well, this is the biggest reason units, departments or companies fail to optimize productivity. Obviously so! When an employee hates to come to work every day, how can the productivity be at its best?

Competition is said to be directly related to performance optimization. Though it helps, organizations need a holistic approach today.

The key to performance optimization is increasing employee engagement through training and development. Gallup report shows,

For highly engaged teams, the business profitability increased by 21%, sales productivity by 20%, and output quality by 40%. To top these figures, absenteeism was down by 41% (these employees started enjoying going to work).

The L&D initiatives of an organization are the best way to skill your workforce while increasing engagement and optimizing performance.

A learning officer would sit at the top of your business development initiatives – from skill training, retention, leadership development to improving productivity.  

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