When you ask a group of people in the office what they want for lunch, you will likely get a smorgasbord of responses — the same can be said for asking employees how they want their learning and development (L&D) programs to be designed and delivered.

Today’s workforce is made up of five different generations — everyone has their preferences as to how they want their learning and training experience to look.

Stereotypes aside — “Gen Z wants TikTok” or “Baby boomers resist tech” — they have more in common than you may think. But how can you create an L&D program to boost engagement for all generations?

The answer is closer than you think; it starts by taking a page from Gen Z’s playbook.

Understanding Gen Z’s Priorities

Gen Z has already made it loud and clear that L&D opportunities are a top consideration. In a survey, 87% of undergraduates say L&D benefits are essential when evaluating a job opportunity, and 63% say developing advanced skills in their field is essential to their definition of career success.

Work-life balance is also nonnegotiable for Gen Z. They don’t want to burn out. They crave flexibility, wanting to work at their own pace and discretion on topics of their choice.

Let’s take a look at a few Gen Z L&D trends that work not only for the rising class of workers but for all generations.

Training Approaches From Gen Z That Work for all

Personalized learning.

One-size-fits-all training is a thing of the past.

A personalized L&D approach can allow employees to take autonomy over their work, increasing their connection to the material and empowering them to engage. Everyone has different motivations and goals; when their learning taps into those, the desire to continue reskilling and upskilling can accelerate.

With personalization, learners can work independently at their own pace and choose preferred learning formats. For example, Viser’s 2024 survey, “What Gen Z Workers Really Want,” reports that 31% of Gen Z respondents ages 18-25 turned to YouTube to learn new skills, while 22% went to TikTok and 12% relied on LinkedIn.

According to Wiley, some Boomers mostly prefer instructor-led learning but can be open to using new technologies after supervised one-on-one training. Assuming everyone shares the same learning preferences isn’t effective. Offering more than one format and letting learners choose their own adventures can allow organizations to meet all types of learners where they are.


Everyone’s attention spans (not just Gen Z’s) are shrinking making it harder to focus on lengthy trainings, webinars and presentations.

Microlearning, content that’s delivered in “bite-sized,” focused bursts, can meet learners across the board with an adaptive learning path that’s accessible anywhere and at any time.

For example, when employees need to brush up on a specific skill, like creating a dynamic spreadsheet in Excel or how to overcome an objection before a big sales call, they can turn to microlearning in the flow of work in real time. This example of just-in-time learning can give employees access to what they need in the moment, increasing knowledge retention by up to 20% as the information is easier to absorb when applied on the spot.

Soft skills development.

It’s necessary to bridge the soft skills gap among employees as generations overlap.

We all communicate differently. Gen Z is likelier to shoot over a message via Slack or Microsoft Teams versus dialing the phone. Older generations speak (or type) formally with serious tones leaving younger generations reading between the lines wondering if they did something wrong.

Leveling up soft skills through training can bridge these communication gaps. In teaching active listening and emotional intelligence (EI), coworkers across generations can gain a better understanding of one another to avoid miscommunication.

Today, traditional work looks different than it once did. Take presentation skills, for example. Gen Z has done the majority of their work and learning online, so they’re not strangers to pitching a sale across Zoom. On the other hand, someone who is used to being live and in person with their audience may need to adapt how they present the material if they’re suddenly thrown into a virtual presentation.

Sharpening your soft skills is never a bad idea, no matter where you are in your career. With the overlap of different cohorts, honing in on interpersonal communication can fuel meaningful workplace relationships and professional development.


Gen Z workers are on the hunt for a mentor. According to an Adobe study, 83% agree that mentorship is crucial to their development. Consider pairing Gen Z employees with someone outside of their function so they can learn from each other.

For example, Gen Z can teach the ins and outs of how to livestream an event on Instagram to a senior marketing manager while getting practical tips and tricks on elements of branding and marketing from someone who’s been doing it for a long time in return.

Having an ongoing relationship where you can bounce ideas, ask questions and get feedback from a real human (not an AI bot) can build trust over time. This personal connection can alleviate feelings of loneliness on the job.

Bottom Line

Gen Z workers desire career growth and development, and to be engaged in and valuable to their work community. Their preferred tactics and strategies could benefit your entire multi-generational workforce. We should all take notes from Gen Z as we think about training and development now and in the future. At the end of the day, we all want to make an impact in this world and feel our efforts valued. L&D done right does just that.