Developing a Learning Culture

Our Millennials, Ourselves: Why We Should All Learn Like Gen Y

“The Me, Me, Me Generation” proclaimed the front page of the May 2013 issue of Time. “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Ouch. If you’re a millennial, that type of criticism stings. And if you work with millennials, you might secretly agree. Call them the Selfie Generation: Gen Y is often pegged as self-centered and somehow overly ambitious and overwhelmingly unmotivated at the same time.

But whatever you think of millennials, you have to admit that they’re changing things for the better, particularly in onboarding, L&D, and even leadership succession. As organizations shift to make allowances for the bright (but sometimes unfocused) millennial generation, we all benefit from strategies meant to engage employees who put a premium on their attention. Say what you want about millennials, but we should all learn to learn the way they do.

Catering to Gen Y

Why should organizations cater to the way millennials learn? It’s a numbers game. According to Deloitte, millennials will make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. To effectively work with millennials, organizations must first shape those millennials through onboarding and training efforts that extract the best qualities of Gen Y-ers. With the right training, employers can utilize that millennial enthusiasm and creativity for the benefit of their businesses.

But catering to millennial sensibilities doesn’t mean leaving anyone out. Gen X employees can reap the benefits of new training strategy, especially where changing technologies are concerned. Adapting to the following millennial learning touchstones affects all learners for the better.

Millennial learning is fast. Gen Y-ers learn everywhere, and they learn fast. Whether they’re reading tweets or scrolling through a list, the same quick characteristics can be applied to learning on the go. Make it quick, and move on.

Millennial learning is tech driven. Millennials already have their own devices: Why not use them? Tailoring learning so that it can be accessed via tablet and smartphone means it’s more accessible for everyone, no matter the time or place.

Millennial learning is high-quality. Millennials place a premium on their time, so quality drives engagement when it comes to information intake. Increasing the quality delivery also increases retention and can act as a catalyst for better training altogether.

Millennial learning is short and sweet. Blame it on social media: Attention spans are shorter than ever. Because of that (and the over 70 percent of millennials using social media daily) learning needs to be as quick as checking into Facebook or scrolling through Instagram to give learners bite-sized pieces of super-digestible material.

Millennial learning is all relative: The same generation that can sit through three hours at the movie theater mentally checks out after two minutes of a boring eLearning module. Instead, delivery must be personal, memorable, and social for Gen Y-ers to even take notice.

You might think they’re a thorn in your side, but millennials are the future of business. Seemingly endless creativity and the willingness to take on new responsibilities are what separate Gen Y-ers from the time clock-punching generations of yesteryear. By designing eLearning that is engaging for small attention spans, tech compatibility, and discerning attitudes, everyone benefits from the strengths of an entirely new generation of employees.