According to Pew Research Center, Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, accounting for 35 percent of American labor force participants. The number of individuals of this generation working or looking for work surpassed that of Gen-Xers in 2017 by three million and exceeded that of Baby Boomers by 15 million. Studies suggest that the younger generation will make up 50 percent of the global workforce by 2025. These numbers indicate that though Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers may still hold supervisor roles, they need to cater their policies and procedures to the younger generations if they want to be successful—especially when it comes to employee training.
At the risk of sounding cliché, we blame technology. Whereas Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers were born into a world with limited technology, the younger generations don't know a world without cell phones, iPads, computers, and other "smart" technology. Whereas older generations are accustomed to waiting, younger generations have access to nearly everything right at their fingertips, including information. Whether an individual wants to learn how to make sushi, reprogram a device, or lose ten pounds in a week, he or she can access the information they need within seconds. As a result, younger generations typically don't prefer a lengthy employee training program, but prefer to have quick access to organizational policies, procedures, and expectations. In short, a Millennial's learning style typically differs from that of older generations.
Bearing that in mind, if you want your training programs to be successful with ALL employees—Millennials included—you need to revise them so that they are in sync with generations that grew up with technology. Ultimately, you need to figure out a way to speed up the consumption of information in a way that still proves effective. Not sure how to do that? No worries - we have you covered with the three tips below!
All individuals today, not just the young ones, have access to all the information they could possibly want from multiple sources. This means that they can be choosy in deciding which sources they actually pay attention to. Typically, the sources they rely on are intuitive, simple and beautifully designed.
If you want your Millennial new hires to actually retain the information you present during training, you need your materials to mirror those regularly consumed by their generation. Ditch the bulky employee training manuals, hours-long seminars, and days' worth of PowerPoint presentations and replace them with materials they can consume between meetings, during lunch hour, or even while they're waiting for a doctor's appointment. Millennials typically expect information to be available when they have time for it, meaning that if they have to clear their schedules to make time for it, managers might face disappointment. Instead, however, if your training can adapt to the needs and learning styles of the Millennials on your team, you are likely to save time on training and appeal to your new hires more effectively.
Before getting dressed in the morning, many individuals check their weather apps to get the latest info on the day's forecast so that they can dress accordingly. Before hitting the road, they oftentimes check Google Maps for the latest on traffic. If there is an accident along their normal route, they can even plan accordingly to ensure that they still make it to work on time. Technology makes it easy for individuals to receive the information they need to make informed decisions instantly, so why can't training materials follow this same train of thought?
Imagine if you, as an employer, could equip your employees with the training they need to succeed before they need it next. For instance, what if you discovered a new sales technique that would guarantee that your top salesman closed a multimillion dollar deal? The only problem, however, is that the multimillion dollar deal is being discussed today. You don't have the time to schedule a meeting much less put together the materials. Fortunately, thanks to technology, you may be able to get that salesman the information he needs to close the deal within a matter of minutes. Simply send him a quick how-to article, video, or infographic which he can pull up right before the meeting and review in minutes so that he is prepared for the ensuing discussions. Following this technique with Millennials can not only help them become more engrained within the organization but could even boost your team's success and efficiency.
Millennials learn best when learning together. Traditional employee training takes place in secluded environments in front of computer screens. While this may have worked for previous generations, research shows that the younger generation learns better through collaboration, competition, and hands-on experience. When allowed to work together, participants can turn to one another to better understand difficult concepts instead of having to ask a supervisor for clarification. They can also complement each other's shortcomings, which is a great way to ensure that your team is playing to their strengths. Most of all, collaborative learning can oftentimes take the pain and, yes, the bore, out of an otherwise grueling topic.
There are numerous ways to encourage active learning, including hosting employee training days, game days, and weekend getaways. However, you don't have to set aside whole blocks of time or days to get employees to participate. Create an online forum where employees can discuss problems, concerns, and discoveries with one another. Set up a company Facebook group where workers can share videos, infographics, and other handy learning materials that they can discover on their own time. In short, make it easy for your employees to both teach and be taught.
With an average attention span of just eight seconds, it can be difficult to adapt your training techniques to suit the learning styles of Millennials. However, "difficult" does not mean "impossible." Instead of forcing your younger new hires and employees to mold their learning styles to training techniques that were once geared towards a different generation, consider how you might cater your employee training to suit the needs of Millennials. After all, the younger generations are the future, and if you want them to succeed, you need to figure out how you can best equip them with the information they need to do so.
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