Every generation brings with it a new set of fads, mindsets, trends and even ethical principles, we could say. What’s relevant or right today might be flatly out of context some forty years ago. Take the e-Books or Kindle for example. The generation born around the year 2000, Gen Z as we call it almost does not believe in reading books in their paperback editions. Being born in an era of highly sophisticated media and computer environment, this generation wants all their stuff loaded conveniently on their digital devices. Look at it from the bibliophilic generations’ point of view and it seems that reading remains almost unaccomplished if you haven’t smelt the aroma of a book.
Let’s apply this to the context of learning. The workforce of any organization today is teeming with the millennial generation that is, Gen Y which came of age around the year 2000. The job market has turned a corner, giving today’s graduates more choices. As employers, we need to not only attract young, talented candidates, but learn how to keep them satisfied, motivated and productive.
Today’s college alumni are a new class of employees — we can’t train them the same way we did employees just five or ten years ago. This generation has different expectations about what a prolific work environment should be. They are much more open to enriching challenges to know what they learn today will help them in their long-term career. They’re like sponges, eager to soak up as much knowledge as possible, not as much for the benefit of the organization, as much for their own personality building.
Millennials do not regard training as a discrete event that occurs every six months — they’re ready and eager to pick up bits of knowledge on the go. They grew up with constant audio-video stimuli which makes them accustomed to imbibing and disseminating information from multiple sources simultaneously. Moreover to them, work is no longer 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — many younger employees work flex hours and spend more time working once they’re home. They’re on their hand-held devices virtually 24×7. Employers can leverage this desire to their gain: Employers can take advantage of this trend: providing easily digestible learning experiences on demand via mobile devices rather than relying on live, formal training sessions that disrupt the usual working routine. This could be a section of an e-learning course, a specific chapter within a reference work or a brief video by an industry veteran. Additionally, learning optimized search technologies could be used to feed this information hungry generation with the exact information they search for at the precise moment they need.
Another innovative method of teaching these young professionals is by applying techniques used in some video games (such as multi-path scenarios) that put learners in control. Virtual classroom sessions also can be used to bring together groups of learners to discuss topics that have been covered in online self-study. Podcast provide another time-saving mechanism for learning on the go, as information on business issues, trends and initiatives can be downloaded to laptops.
The whole idea is to make learning an inherent part of the workday that is easily reachable via different digital devices. This empowers employees with the ability to select the accurate combination of information resources they need for the work at hand, ensuring improved performance and increased satisfaction.