benefits-mentoring

The Benefits of Mentoring: How to Cultivate the Millennial Generation

Heidi Vella

The benefits of mentoring millennials are vast. Here are some ways that shaping them will shape the future of your plant.

There are many benefits to mentoring employees within the power sector—especially millennials. This generation, which is roughly defined as being born between the 1980s and the 1990s, will account for 50 percent of the workforce by 2020.

Millennials are different from the generations before them. They have grown up with broadband, smartphones, social media, laptops, and an abundance of information at their fingertips, and are naturally tech-savvy. This inherent technology aptitude is one of the benefits of mentoring millennials, as they are well equipped to assist power plant operators tasked with updating and digitizing aging infrastructure.

Companies that have been the most successful at attracting millennials include Google, Apple, and Facebook, because these companies are typically seen as progressive employers who have adopted a different way of working. So how can managers in the power industry both attract and retain millennials? Managers working with millennials and hoping to bridge the gap should consider these insights.

Benefits of Mentoring Millennials in Groups

Due to millennials' keenness to learn and their craving for feedback, there are many benefits to mentoring this generation in a group environment. Power plant managers should embrace this form of informal coaching.

Using online social collaboration platforms such as Dare2Share can help. This particular site enables employees to pass on their knowledge and insights to colleagues through short audio and video podcasts, RSS feeds, and discussion threads, as well as through traditional training documents.

For a more hands-on approach, group meetings can be held monthly or weekly as a platform for junior staff to share their ideas and concerns with senior staff and receive instant feedback. Some firms are even encouraging employees from different departments to take turns holding weekly presentations, where employees can share information about their roles, accomplishments, and challenges with colleagues and receive feedback from peers.

Reverse Mentoring

Learning and growing in the workplace isn't only for entry-level staff. As many firms have discovered, senior staff can also learn from their junior employees. One way to do this is through reverse mentoring. PwC, Cisco, Procter & Gamble, and Deloitte have all become believers in the benefits of reverse mentoring.

Reverse mentoring works by pairing a newer member of the team with a more senior employee. The junior team member can provide valuable insight into technologies and trends that older members of the workforce may not be as proficient in. This practice allows junior staff to grow their confidence, feel valued, and gain visibility into senior leadership challenges. They can also build a rapport with a manager who can offer them invaluable advice and insights about the industry.

While these mentoring tools have proven successful, it's important to note that every individual employee is different, and will have their own preferences for learning, collaborating, and receiving feedback. Managers should consider each employee's training individually and regardless of their age.

Attracting Millennials

Millennials have traditionally been a hard group for employers to retain, because they are not afraid to change jobs to get what they want. Managers must be proactive about retaining young staff members if they want to close the growing skills gap as baby boomers retire.

A 2016 Deloitte survey found that 82 percent of millennials who stayed with the same company for more than five years felt their values aligned with those of the organization. This is because the millennial generation is typically more socially and environmentally conscientious. In order to attract millennials, the power sector needs to demonstrate that it has a lot to offer people who want to get involved in sustainability and green energy. Millennials who are considering a career in the power industry should know they have an opportunity to help shape the future energy landscape, implement clean energy technologies, and drive innovation at power plants through digitization.

However, millennials may currently view the industry as outdated and not realize that their technology skills are needed and will be valued. It is up to managers to spread this message. They should consider advertising open positions on social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as well as promoting the power industry at university career days.

A New Way of Working

The real clincher, however, will be offering millennials the job package they want. What makes technology companies like Facebook, Apple, and Google stand out to millennials is that they offer a new kind of work culture. They boast flexible schedules, innovative work environments, a better work–life balance, and regular coaching and mentoring. Millennials are prepared to work hard but won't accept outdated attitudes toward workplace culture that make them feel stifled rather than supported.

Offering things like ongoing training, paid work volunteer days, adequate maternity leave, and flexible working hours will be key to attracting this generation.

The power plant managers that are prepared to invest in their employees and consider new ways of working will be able to recruit and retain the best talent of this generation.

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