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Millennials are Transforming Workplace Learning – Are You Ready?

The millennial generation has come of age and is rapidly transforming the workplace environment.  They are the biggest generation in US history at 92 million strong,[1] and their priorities, preferences, and learning styles are uniquely their own. Since this generation now ranges between the ages of 17 and 37, odds are that your company already employs them. Are you using training strategies to target and engage this generation?  In this article, we’ll examine the millennial mindset and how you can effectively engage them in your training.

Millennials and Technology

Unlike previous generations, millennials grew up with modern technologies. They had computers in their homes as children. They had access to the internet. They had iPods and iPhones and other touchscreen devices. Video games replaced board games as entertainment. Social media seemed to naturally integrate into their worlds: In the past year alone, 76 million US millennials accessed social media networking sites.[2]

Because millennials grew up with the internet, computers, and other forms of modern technology, they thrive in online social environments. They prefer access to learning that is readily available on mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. Traditional methods of learning, such as instructor-led training and PowerPoint presentations leave this group unengaged.[3] This is one of the many reasons why eLearning methods are much more effective with the millennial generation.

How Do You Reach Millennials with Your Training?

To reach millennials, you must first figure out what catches their interest. Millennials are looking for educational experiences that are rewarding and fulfilling. How do you deliver your message so that it sinks in? This generation wants to understand the “why” of things – and they expect you’ll teach it to them. Studies show that employees who understand the reason behind the task or training are much more likely to carry it out as instructed.[4]

The Millennial Generation is also very pragmatic. They want to apply the information they learn and put it to good use.  They are more interested in action than theory.[5] If you can tap into this through your training, you have a higher chance of increased retention from your millennial audience.

Most Effective Ways to Teach Millennials

Now, you understand why technology is important in training your millennial workforce, and that the instruction needs to be meaningful.  How exactly does this translate into a highly effective training for this group? Let’s look at some of the critical elements that your training could incorporate:

  • The information should be in short, “bite-sized” chunks. Incorporating technology into training does not mean millennials should sit in front of a computer and click through a series of questions. They expect something more engaging that is in small, easily digested bits.
  • Microlearning is highly effective for this group. Microlearning changes the activity or presentation frequently. It also incorporates breaks throughout the training, helping learners stay focused.
  • Gamification keeps learners engaged. Remember, this is a generation that grew up on gaming. In fact, 30 percent of all current gamers are between the ages of 18 and 35.[6] Turning a training into a game holds their attention in a fun and natural way.
  • Incorporate video frequently. Millennials love video, augmented reality, vlogging, etc.[7] It was a popular trend in 2017, and will continue to be so in 2018. Millennials relate and pay attention to video more than simply reading an article or lesson.

Just the Beginning….

If you are still training your millennials using PowerPoint presentations and slideshows, then now is the time to adapt. Think about it – if millennials are this comfortable with the internet, social media, touch screens, and smartphones, what can be expected of the next generation? Generation Z, those born after the year 2000, may be teenagers now; however, in just a few short years, they will also be entering the workforce. In fact, this generation is expected to bypass college and move straight into the workforce even more than their millennial counterparts.[8]

Like millennials, Generation Z grew up with smartphones and tablets.   Social media is an integral part of their lives. According to one recent report, 88 percent of surveyed teens access the social sites Snapchat and Instagram daily.[9] This generation is even more comfortable with technology than its predecessors. If your training cannot hold the attention of millennials, how will you engage this next group?

By the year 2020, one of three Americans in the workforce will be a millennial. And by 2025, millennials are expected to account for 75 percent of the workforce.[10] As you plan for this upcoming year, what does your current workforce training program look like?  Is it designed to engage these next generations? If your training techniques are feeling outdated, now is the time to adapt and prepare.













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