Each generation that enters the workforce arrives with different wants and needs. This is apparent when it comes to how best to train a specific generation. Even with individual differences, there are generational differences that impact training needs.
Generation Z, who are digital natives, have a lot of expectations when it comes to training and growing in the workplace.
Five Training Tips for Gen Z
1. Continuous Learning
Generation Z does not see learning as needing a classroom; to them, all interactions provide learning opportunities. Companies can build upon this by developing rotational programs where employees make their ways through various roles and learn more about the organization as well as themselves. To be most effective, such assignments will require managers and mentors to provide continuous feedback.
Since they are accustomed to figuring things out on their own, Gen Z doesn’t expect or want detailed instructions. Their Gen X parents expected them to find answers for themselves, so Gen Z is accustomed to being pointed in the right direction with general guidance. They are accustomed to sorting through vast amounts of information and finding their solutions. Companies can harness this by providing broad guidelines and letting the employees find the path that works best for them.
2. How to Deliver Training
Gen Z are less interested in a lecture or formal workshops. They have short attention spans (some experts claim 12 minutes) and need multiple mediums to be engaged.
• This is a very visual generation, who rely on observing behavior and then replicating it. They react well to mixed media and visually-stimulating messages.
• Create bite-sized learning modules, to keep Gen Z's attention.
• Small group activities can also be successful. To make them more effective, connect learners with other learners who share similar interests.
• Training must expand beyond the classroom; focus more on OJT.
Since they have grown up using visually-orientated technology, training programs should rely a great deal on images. Content must be visually stimulating. The PowerPoint presentation should go the way of the slide rule. Given their reliance on using technology, you can expect this generation to go to YouTube to find out how to do something.
View training as micro-learning and set it up accordingly. If you must deliver some material in a lecture form, provide "digital breaks" every 12 minutes so that the audience can check their electronic devices. This shows respect for their short attention span and Gen Z's need Gen Z to see to their existing relationships.
3. Training in What?
Learning should be competency based with a focus on problem-solving and soft skills. Since they have grown up communicating via text messaging, twitter, and snap chat, Gen Z may need specific guidance in writing and interpersonal skills.
For the most part, Gen Z agrees that they need help in self-evaluation, professionalism, time management, retaining a positive attitude, and maintaining high productivity levels. Training programs addressing these target areas should be developed.
Many Gen Z do not multi-task well, although they are excellent at task switching. They will need guidance on how to take big projects and break them down into smaller tasks that they can move between.
Since they are accustomed to expressing their opinions online, encourage collaboration between Gen Z through forums, and group discussions.
Explain how the training fits into the bigger picture of what the individual wants to learn.
4. Active Learning
Gen Z will expect corporate training to have the same flexibility and self-direction that they are accustomed to in education. Providing choice and freedom in their training programs, when feasible, can be the linchpin to developing motivation and self-confidence.
Technology must be state-of-the-art. Training systems with limited navigation and out-of-date technology will frustrate Gen Z. This generation expects workplace technology to be equal to their technology. It is important, therefore, that training systems be intuitive, easily accessible, and easy-to-use.
Gen-Z prefers to work individually using a hands-on approach. They will anticipate that learning systems will be tailored to suit their specific needs. Remember, this is a generation that sees each member as unique. Gen Z excels in thinking outside the box because they have had practice in being creative, critical thinkers. They have always been exposed to the web for finding information, so seeking creative solutions is just their second nature.
For Generation Z, variety, technology, engagement, and flexibility are the keys to learning. Given the importance they place on social media, they like being tagged, given awards, and name recognition, and they want others to know that they're succeeding.
Gamification in the corporate training world may need to be reimagined so that companies focus on highly engaging self-paced training that tells a story with gaming to reinforce the learning as well as including leaderboards and badges posted on the Learning Management System. Companies should consider creating a social media site specifically for each class, which would hold the leaderboards as well as any other forms of recognition.
What have your experiences been in training this generation? What has worked and what has not?