What you need to know about training and developing millennials

by Ofentse Sefolo
What you need to know about training and developing millennials

Very soon, millennials will be the dominant generation in the workplace. Their learning and training style drastically differs from their predecessors, so it’s important to understand how they think, work and feel to better engage them.

Employee development suite, Bridge, and Infrastructure, Inc. recently published an eBook entitled L&D Meets OMG: Learning & Development for Millennials, which is a guide to working with and engaging millennials in the workplace through learning and development.

Move over, boomers
Baby boomers used to be the dominant influencers on everything and they were the generation that defined the workplace with workaholic tendencies and work-to-live attitudes. This generation is now taking a back seat to another dominant generation: millennials.

A breed all their own, these adults born in the 1980s and 1990s are quite different in how they think, work, use technology and socialise. And for employers, it’s time to embrace their impending influx or spend years trying to recruit and retain young talent through outdated methods that just won’t work.

Millennials’ use of technology is far more advanced than their baby boomer bosses, and even Gen Xers, as they are the first generation of “digital natives”. For a millennial born in 1988, the first text message was send when he was four years old, and by the time he graduated high school, social media platforms such as Myspace and YouTube were hitting their stride. PowerPoint slides at lunch & learn sessions simply won’t cut it with millennials.

Instant gratification junkies
At the same age that baby boomers were playing with Silly Putty and Cracker Jacks, millennials were already addicted to their iPhones and declaring Facebook passé. This doesn’t just mean they can show you how to download and use the Uber app on your phone, it means they’re instant-gratification junkies when searching for information.

If a millennial has a question, they’re more likely to whip out their phone and Google the answer than they are to ask the person standing right next to them. Millennials have a very positive relationship with technology. In fact, 56 percent of millennials think technology helps people use their time more efficiently. Another startling figure: 56 percent of lower millennials and 67 percent of upper millennials said state-of-the-art equipment is vital in their employer selection.

Go mobile or go home
As you consider company investments in new applications and programs, particularly your learning and training platform, consider the vital need for mobile access. Millennials are almost literally glued to their phones. According to Pew Research Center, more than four out of five sleep with or next to their cell phones.

Work is about more than a pay check for millennials
For millennials, work is more than just a pay check, it’s about enrichment, fulfilment, and the flexibility to achieve the lifestyle they want on their own terms. As evidence, a Millennial Branding report found 45 percent of millennials would choose workplace flexibility over pay.

You can meet these desires through mobile learning. Also called m-learning, this is training and development delivered on mobile devices – phones, tablets, handheld PCs – through an app, allowing millennials to access it whenever, wherever. Mobile apps typically focus on bite sized segments of five minutes or less, appealing to millennials’ short attention spans.

Poor design is a deal breaker
Millennials are largely visual learners. This shouldn’t be surprising given they grew up using a computer, watching TV and playing video games. Start with design. You’ll grab their attention if you use a slick modern interface that looks like the other apps and programs they’re used to interacting with on their phones and tablets.

Keep it short
Millennials are constantly connected and you only have a brief period to capture their attention.

“If you can’t deliver a training course in short, bite-sized segments, you won’t engage the millennials coming into the workforce,” explained Jeff Weber, vice president of people and places at Instructure.

Best practices for m-learning suggest you develop education segments that are five minutes or less. Think YouTube video, not an hour-long “Lunch and Learn”. Keep in mind, the average human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish.

When breaking your current courses into smaller segments, consider offering different learning methods throughout the course, including video, group discussion and other interactive activities. This will help keep millennial minds fresh as they regularly switch between different tasks.

You’ve heard the clichés – entitled, selfie-obsessed, ramen-eating, underemployed, “Me Me Me Generation,” “Hero Generation”, etc. Regardless of how they are labelled, millennials are one of the most talked about, analysed and criticised generations. Changing the way you train and teach millennials will not only make you a more likely employer of choice, it will ensure your workforce of the future is engaged and learning.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.getbridge.com.

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