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Are Gen Z and millennials disrupting your training?

While the two youngest age groups currently in employment – millennials and Gen Z – possess quite distinctive traits, one area they do share is a desire for career-based learning and development.

According to employment software developers Bridge, training keeps 86% of millennials in their current positions, suggesting it is an important factor for both staff retention and motivation.

In our experience as training providers for organisations of all sectors and sizes, we find some of the conclusions about the younger generations betray a superficial analysis of these demographic groups – in fact many of them can be said of all ages. So before you rip up your training strategy, let’s look at a few core issues, to see if training needs revolution or simply evolution in order to keep younger employees engaged.

1 – Technology and its powers of distraction

While millennials came of age during the internet explosion, Gen Z grew up with a phone in one hand and a tablet in the other, hence their reputation of being tech savvy with short attention spans.

We don’t agree that phone addiction is a strictly generational issue. You only have to look around to see just how many of us are glued to screens, all the time. And all of us are continually bombarded with alerts, notifications and messages.

That’s why training programmes need to be succinct, participative and captivating to keep people of all ages from being distracted.  BiteSize’s courses are designed with these factors in mind. At the same time we use tech when it helps, for example using phones to film exercises like the rehearsal of a presentation, or the opening of that difficult conversation.

2 – Face to Face

With so many ways to learn today, face-to-face training is still vital. As well as making sure the content is being understood, it cultivates communication skills, teamwork and listening. Face-to-face communication is important in all generations and is a way of connecting staff across different age groups, departments and seniority levels.

What does seem to be emerging among the younger generation is a desire to improve skills that previous generations might have taken for granted, such as building interpersonal skills, professional writing and self-confidence. According to Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2018, only three in ten Gen Z-ers believe they have the skills to succeed in “Industry 4.0” – the name for the emerging trend in automation and data exchange in manufacturing. With this in mind, it is important to acknowledge their needs and understand what skills these groups feel they lack.

3 – Interactive training  

Everybody consumes information differently, depending on personal preferences, learning styles and so on. That’s why we think interactive learning is so important. And those who have grown up with digital technologies are used to activities and games enhancing their learning.

Kahoot, an interactive game launched in 2013, is regularly used in classrooms to encourage motivation – and a bit of competition – between students. After a topic has been completed, the whole class does an interactive quiz using their smartphones, tablets or computers. These quizzes are live, and students try to answer the questions in the quickest time, score the most points and make their way up the leaderboard.

So gamification can bring a whole new element of dynamic interactivity to your training – but do remember that it might not suit all your audiences. Test new techniques before rolling them out, and remember that with training, one size definitely doesn’t fit all.

4 – The healthy generation

One thing there’s no doubting is the high value millennials and Gen-Zers place on wellness.

Statistics show they are eating healthily, minimising alcohol, exercising regularly and harnessing technology to track their progress. According to one study, 77% of younger people exclude things from their diet that they see as harmful – in comparison to just 12% of baby boomers.

Wellness and mindfulness training courses are popular courses at BiteSize, and our trainers report how well-informed younger people are on the topics. Many expect to receive assistance from their employers and often start their training from a different place compared to older learners. Trainers need to bear this in mind and adjust course content accordingly.

So, in summary: training manuals don’t have to be thrown out, but they could benefit from a review – and some gamification.

What do you think? Do you alter your training techniques depending on the age of the employees? Do you use any technologies that you think just work? Let us know below or tweet us at @BiteSizeLearnUK

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