Millennials increasingly make up larger proportions of every workforce. They provide a particular challenge to any organisation used to working with Generation X, or older, because they engage and learn differently. This generation, born between the 1980’s and 2000, is the first to have grown up with digital culture truly embedded in their lives. Millennials use technology as an integrated part of their lifestyles and the most successful learning techniques reflect, not just technology use, but the impact it has had on thinking and learning.
How to help your millennial employees learn
Throw out the hierarchical learning structures
Unlikely the generations before them, Millennials don’t respond well to an authoritarian teaching style. They are much more likely to want to know why the learning is necessary and understanding the reasons for policies, processes or procedures will provide a much firmer foundation for learning. Positive learning responses from Millennials often depend on trainers and instructors providing the explanation and justification that this generation has become used to by having search engines at their fingertips.
Provide a relevant context
Millennials don’t just want to know why learning is necessary but they also want to understand how it fits and where it is going to be useful. This generation values information that is relevant to their own lives and if they’re discovering this knowledge proactively themselves this will feel much more intuitive. For example, hands-on or application-based case studies work well for Millennials where there is an element of proactive knowledge discovery and a link from the eLearning to the performance context.
Although many of us respond better when there is a personal connection with the individual who is teaching, for the Millennial generation it can be even more important. This generation is more used to individual adult attention and more likely to expect it when it comes to training, development plans and setting goals and objectives.
Forget the limits of traditional learning styles
Engaging the Millennial generation means going beyond classic learning styles, such as lecturing or learning by rote from textbooks, and using a much wider range of learning tools. This is the generation that has embraced the idea of learners having an individual style and, as a result, they tend to seek out a much broader range of learning strategies. This could involve visual learning materials, audio or anything that mimics the way they use technology and caters to a shorter attention span. Millennials are far more likely to thrive when engaged in collaborative group projects, or using a varied tools and systems, than repetitive individual rote learning.
Allow for autonomous learning
Training that allows Millennials more autonomy will always deliver results because Millennials are used to having the choices and freedom that technology provides. This may be over the way that the training is completed and managed or freedom in terms of deadlines and managing schedules. Rigid training structures that don’t give Millennials choices tend to result in them switching off rather than becoming engaged.
These are just a few of the techniques that can be used to better engage Millennials in learning and training.