Training to your employees – especially new hires – is pretty much a necessity, and for small and medium businesses, online tools allow you to do this without needing an expert training and development person on staff. However, when creating training for Millennial employees, there are some tips and tricks to keep in mind to make sure the newest members of your workforce are properly engaged and get the most value from your elearning.
The Millennial generation was raised with the web and mobile technology, along with a different level of parental involvement in their education than prior generations. This combination makes their expectations for learning a bit different than other cohorts. On the one hand Millennial employees expect training to be of high quality; on the other, they want to have a clear understanding of how the training will positively impact their career up front. Success in training this group may be easier to achieve if you keep some of the following guidelines in mind.
1) Variety is key in training millennial employees.
Obviously with online learning you can and should use different media types—video, audio, quizzes, infographics, workbooks, and so on. Millennials are used to consuming a variety of media in their online feeds; think of how broad the range of content they consume is between Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Buzzfeed, and Facebook. Presenting an endless stream of similar talking-head videos will get them to check out faster than a SnapChat message deletes itself.
But it’s not only about variety in the types of media. Millennial employees expect their training to cover more than just the technical and specific skills needed to perform their jobs. They’re looking for guidance on issues related to leadership development, personal improvement, career growth, etc.; basically improving their professional skills.
We suggest not only offering courses about those subjects in your catalog, but actually integrating that learning within your technical training itself. Let’s say you are explaining how a particular job task must be accomplished in a specific way in one lesson. In the next you might explain how and why performing the task in that way directly contributes to the employee’s long term career, or even how performing it in the way it’s designed directly benefits the company. Millennial employees want to see how their roles plug into the bigger picture—how is what they do relevant to the social fabric they are part of?
The benefit of this is it will not only help Millennial employees see the training as relevant, but also immediately add variety to your course content itself, helping to keep them engaged and interested in the materials.
2) Provide constant Mentorship and Feedback.
Millennials were trained to expect constant feedback and coaching throughout their childhood and advanced education. Think about how programmed and directed their lives have been: from soccer lessons, supervised after school activities, and even playdates as young kids, to their college years and beyond with meetups for social causes, groups for yoga, and constant feedback from peers on social media.
So, your training can provide regular feedback to them through automatically-scored quizzes, gather opinions from them in the form of polls, give them action steps that can be taken for practice, and ask questions for discussion within the course itself. Follow this up with access to an open forum alongside the formal training, where Millennials can ask about things in their own, self-directed way.
Naturally, providing slightly more structured mentorship will do wonders to the perceived quality of training on the part of Millennials, but this feedback can even be from other employees with a bit more experience. Mentorship doesn’t have to be formally facilitated by a training and development staff.
And make sure you have someone to respond and answer their queries both in the forum and in the course. Remember: an unanswered question can send the message that if someone can’t be bothered to respond, the training can’t possibly be that important to begin with. Luckily, most online tools like Siminars make it pretty easy to see and respond to these queries in a notification area—just be sure to pay attention to that tiny “new notification” counter in the navigation bar!
3) Make your Content Self-Paced & Social.
Millennials are used to learning environments that encouraged them to do their best, but also provided flexibility so that those who learned at different paces could take more or less time as needed. Allowing training to be self-paced can help Millennial employees absorb lessons in their own time.
Plus, if the lessons are broken down into bite sized chunks, they can easily complete the course work in between other job tasks, rather than having to dedicate large blocks of time to it. A goal should be to design your training so that the impulse that drives them to check social media ever so often is replicated in the course. Wouldn’t it be great if they took a break at work on your online learning portal instead of heading to Facebook?
Accomplishing this means not only making the content short and easy to consume in between other tasks, but also making it social. In fact, the same tools mentioned above—polls, forums, discussion questions—can be used to drive social interaction between employees if designed right. This will, of course, vary based on your company culture, but asking questions in the right way, making lessons fun and open to feedback, sharing a variety of media types, and encouraging employees to share their own content, can all contribute to making your course social.
In essence: don’t think of courses as one-way lectures; think of them as an invitation for your millennial employees to participate in the training and even give back with contributions of their own.