Most companies are made up of employees of various ages, with staff members of different generations working together in the one organization. As an employer or manager, you most likely have a number of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials across your teams, bringing positive benefits to your organization through different levels of experience, knowledge and diversity.
As beneficial as this is for your company, a multi-generational workforce can sometimes make learning and development programs a little tricky, due to differences in learning styles and technological abilities. While younger team members might prefer high-tech, independent training methods, older staff may need something more traditional and trainer-lead.
So, when it comes to employee training, how do you make sure your learning materials are engaging and effective for all staff – of all ages?
The answer can be found in eLearning – an effective training solution that meets the needs of learners from all generations.
With online learning, you’ll find you can give employees the flexibility, autonomy, customization and engagement they want and need – regardless of age. eLearning courses can be designed to perfectly fit your target audience, allowing you to tailor online courses specifically to your business and workforce. This means you can create the exact courses you need for your staff, whether it’s for onboarding, professional development or compliance testing.
Let’s look at how you can use eLearning courses to successfully train staff of different generations.
The youngest generation to be part of today's workforce, Millennials have been raised with technology and social media as a part of everyday life. Widely experienced in using technology and all form of digital devices, these workers are tech savvy and looking for fast, on-the-go learning.
Millennials expect technology to be an integral part of learning and need to know exactly what they’re going to get out of a training program. For these younger workers, traditional classroom training methods are at risk of leaving them feeling disengaged, distracted, or just plain bored. So how do you make sure Millennial employees are engaging with training materials?
Jeffrey Roth, Vice President of Marketing for Interactyx, points out that distractions such as “social networking sites and gaming apps can be integrated into the learning plan to motivate and connect with learners on a level that they’re more familiar with.” Look for eLearning platforms that allow you to include social learning features into your online courses such as social media channels, instant messaging (IM) and gamification.
When learning, Millennials in particular like to form connections, share ideas and interact with other people in the workplace. These forms of social interaction play a large role in training and are known as the social learning methodology. By encouraging social learning in your eLearning course, Millennial team members will be able to create and share content with workmates, helping them to connect with the materials and one another.
For Millennial staff members, you’ll also want to make sure your training program is available on-the-go. eLearning will allow individuals to access course materials through mobile-friendly apps and devices, making learning more flexible and convenient for users.
Between Millennials and Boomers, we have Generation X – born between 1965 and 1980.
When writing about How to Target the Right Generation in eLearning, Sean Stoker believes that many Gen Xers were “forced to grow up rather quickly and to some extent learn to take care of themselves. For these reasons… this generation is full of independent thinkers, wanting to do things their own way.”
This means Gen X workers thrive when given the freedom to learn independently and at their own pace. In fact, many Gen Xers prefer flexible, autonomous work life and are very successful when working remotely or from home.
eLearning offers this generation flexible learning options that are self-lead and self-governed. Online courses can be accessed at a time and place that’s convenient for the Gen X learner, while allowing them to plan out their study and monitor their own progress.
A large sector of today's workforce, being middle-aged or older, are from the 1946 to 1964 Baby Boomer generation. It’s unwise to assume that this generation is averse to technology, as many Boomers are very tech savvy. However, unlike Millennials, they haven’t grown up with these devices playing a large role in everyday life, so there is still a different mindset when it comes to learning.
Older workers will embrace eLearning when the online materials are intuitive, user-friendly and easy to navigate. Make sure your course can be navigated easily, without frustration. A good learning management system or eLearning platform will allow you to create custom content, specific to your audience and their training needs. Read through our article on what makes a good online course, for helpful tips on all aspects of eLearning design.
For example, for these employees, you may want to consider making your default font a few points larger. For users who experience age-related problems with their eyes, the option to make text larger on screen can mean a world of difference. However, as Stoker says, “while making these considerations, it’s important to not make the learner feel old. Today’s seniors are more sharp and active than ever before, so it pays not to pander."
As you can see, eLearning allows you to easily tweak and tailor your training materials to perfectly suit your learning audience – whatever age they may be. By following these guidelines, you can provide each employee with the tools and environment they need to succeed in training. As a result, you can expect to see more skilled, productive and connected employees, helping your organization to achieve its business goals.