Posted On August 24, 2015

A Lesson From Millenials

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this year, you’ve no doubt noticed a phenomenal increase in the number of articles and surveys involving “Millennials.”  Yes, my generation are the new black.

One of these studies, the Deloitte Millennial Survey, published in January 2014, reported that Millennials will make up 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025.

The million-dollar question for Learning and Development teams everywhere is how do we cater for them?

Ok, perhaps that sounds a bit dramatic, however I fall into this category. And after many conversations with my wider team about what Millennials want and need from learning, I feel it’s time to put the story straight.

Here’s the thing: We don’t want to change the status quo of learning. The well-understood theories and concepts should still remain at the core. It’s just the delivery and materials that need a breath of fresh air.

You’re Right – It’s All About Me!

I unashamedly admit that at the last count I had 204 apps on my phone.  And why do I have all these you ask? Because they enable me to customise my phone to my lifestyle and needs.

No two peoples’ phones are the same and we have to remember that regardless of generational labels, no two people are either.

There are so many different factors that can affect learning, such as learning styles, time frames and attitudes. But I feel any barriers can be overcome by following these three tips to engage any learner in any generation.  Albeit a lesson from a Millennial.

  1. Explore a variety of media and delivery methods

A friend recently had to attend a three-hour compliance seminar with over 100 PowerPoint slides. The thought makes me shudder too. To save his soul, he decided to live tweet the experience and, as hysterical as it was, it clearly spoke volumes about the fact that the training was highly ineffective. But because he had signed his name at the door and sat there, it meant that he was compliant.

Using a wide array of different learning solutions, on the other hand, can make even the driest content fly.  Compliance modules, introductions, new procedures – you name it!

We also hear more and more often that staff cannot all be out at training at the same time, or even for a whole day.  This runs true for all ages, so the flexibility of training is a big key to success.

Thanks to always having the Internet at our fingertips, we can now access information whenever and wherever we want to, and that goes for learning materials too.

Learning shouldn’t be boring. Especially when there are so many great ways to share knowledge and information like:

  • Webinars
  • Seminars
  • Coaching
  • Mentoring
  • Face-to-face
  • YouTube
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Guided Online Learning (Live Virtual Classrooms)
  • Consulting
  • E-learning – gamification
  • Self-paced
  • Online Breakouts
  • Lynda
  • Ted Talks
  1. Make it a game

Looking at variety in learning leads me nicely into the 2nd tip:  gamification.  For those not up to speed with this term, here’s a little definition, or check out our White Paper: Gamification – beyond the hype.

Gamification is incorporating game designs into a non-game context such as business, education, and social impact challenges.  Game mechanics can powerfully motivate behaviour to create engaging experiences as well as assign rewards and recognition.

We all know how to play games; we learnt them as a child and they can make learning fun. That’s why companies often use game thinking for employee motivation in human resources for team building, productivity enhancement, training, health and wellness, sustainability and innovation.

Game thinking means more than dropping in badges and leader boards to make an activity fun or addicting. It requires a thoughtful understanding of motivational psychology and game design techniques, as well as a sensitivity to limits and dangers.

Gamification is a great learning tool and not just limited to the Gen-Yers. All generations can benefit from some light-hearted competition.

  1. Dangle Carrots

Millennials thrive on knowing essentially ‘what’s in it for them.’ Personally, I can’t get motivated for something I don’t believe in or have clear defined goals around. I dare to say that other generations obey and follow not so much for us!

A report by PWC on Millennials at work noted:  “The biggest draw for Millennials, though, is the opportunity for progression – 52% said that they felt this made an employer an attractive prospect. Once again, the ambition and optimism of this generation comes through.”

Learning and Development plays a huge role in career progression and a clear path will not also retain these employees but also motivate them.

Join Me In The New Learning

So perhaps, despite the clichés, you can pick up a thing or two from how we Millennials want to learn after all.

Remember, the health, vibrancy and future direction of your organisation will soon be in our hands!