Millennials comprise the largest generational sector since the baby boomers, and as this group enters the job market, training organizations need to find new, innovative ways to reach this audience.
Motivating, engaging, and inspiring learners to achieve real change and results within an organization is no easy task and will never cease to be a hot topic for training professionals. But, this group presents new challenges. They demand more from their training. We have developed strategies used by our award-winning customers that have been proven to engage millennials by using innovative technologies, rich media and relevant branding.
Who are they?
Millennials are individuals born between 1981 and 1999. They are the largest, most educated, most diverse generation in history.
How are Millennial Learners Different?
According to a Pew Research study, they are motivated self-learners that can be self-directed employees. Millennials seek transparency and real time feedback in their work environment. They have been accustomed to using innovative technologies for learning in their studies from K-12 to University education. It is a natural progression for them to use similar technologies for training in their work environments.
Millennials are not unlike other audiences that training professionals have strived to engage. In fact, this generation is incredibly comfortable with technology, but let’s not forget that many industries employ older segments of the population who have become just as comfortable with technology. Therefore, investing in training that meets the requirements necessary to engage millennials will not only build training that creates results for current and future generations, but will meet the needs of current employees as well.
Is the Concern to Engage Millennials Real?
All of the concerns are real but oftentimes overplayed. Many learning professionals treat millennials as a single, non-complex group. They are still individual people who want to contribute to the organization. However, companies can learn from them. We can all take something from their learning style, technology comfort, and culture. At Allen, we have used methods created initially to engage millennial learners to enhance performance in all learners and build better overall learning for the future.
Engaging Millennial Training with Mobile Learning, Gamification and Video Based Learning
Mobile learning, Gamification and Video Based Learning are strategies that can be tremendously successful when used to deliver content to a millennial audience. It is also crucial to understand what methods should be incorporated into all of these strategies when developing a training initiative. Simply using these methods to deliver training will not motivate or engage learners. When we recognize the values and motivation factors that engage millennials, we include the following approaches in our training strategies:
- Bite Sized Learning
- Immediate Feedback
- Big-Picture Relevancy
Bite Sized Learning
When we create training for this generation, we look at what we used to accomplish in 30 minute modules and design the material for a 3-5 minute module. How do decrease the time spent in a course so tremendously and expect to see the same results?
Millennials are self-motivated and have been taught to be digitally resourceful. This creates opportunities to allocate the time that was once spent on training on specific material, which may not ever be used by an individual, or may be forgotten by the time it is needed, to instead be used to teach and direct learners on where to locate and how to use job tools.
These job tools can be accessible via mobile devices. Also, short how-to videos based learning segments or task relevant, scenario based games can be accessible via mobile and correlate well to take advantage of small windows of down time in many work environments. Onboarding for example, can be overwhelming to a learner when delivered all at once, but with the addition of easily-accessible, short bits of information available at the time-of-need, we can eliminate the stress of onboarding and focus on job performance from day one. See a specific example of how we worked with JetBlue to apply mobile strategies for onboarding.
Immediate feedback is essential for Millennial motivation. Adding gamification concepts to training initiatives does not necessarily signify that a course is a game. It simply suggests that a course has game-like features. Gamification is similar to scenario-based learning. Gamification, however, creates motivation for learners in ways that scenarios may not. The concept of allowing a learner to obtain immediate feedback in a game environment (and the option to share results socially) allows learners to quickly develop the skills they need to perform desired behaviors. Industries, such as restaurant and retail industries, are seeing significant performance improvement by using immediate feedback in their courses. See a specific example of how we worked with Lego to apply gamification and immediate feedback for customer service and retail training.
Any individual, regardless of their generation, will be more engaged by training that is relevant to their specific work environment and position. While Millennials are no different in expecting training that will teach them how to succeed at their particular job, they also benefit from big-picture relevancy. Understanding how daily tasks contribute to principal company goals is important for this generation that has been taught to set expectations, goals and benchmarks throughout their K-12 studies. Video Based Training is an excellent method for delivering content that allows learners to understand how their contributions impact the company. Executive leaders who are unable to meet with thousands of employees can easily share their message through video and influence, unite and rally their workforce to improve performance and meet company goals.
Our Experience Engaging Millennials to Achieve Business Results
At Allen, our 32 years of experience has taught us that there are some basic, yet essential methods that should be applied to every training initiative regardless of the audience. We always start with performance mapping. We work backwards, considering what activities will work best for a particular audience and improve performance to achieve overall business goals. That said, engagement of a particular audience is one factor in improving overall learner performance. We have three strategies that have worked well for our award-winning clients including JetBlue, Amway and Lego for reaching and extending beyond the millennial audience to enhance workplace performance.
See our Case Studies to see how we created award-winning training for Millennial audiences: