Training now is nothing like it used to be, and if organizations want to stay ahead of the game, it’s important to understand why. Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a connected world where attitudes and expectations have been fashioned by the internet. People now entering the workforce for the first time have never known a world without cell phones, or even the internet. They despise stale, non-interactive training methods and want training that is hands-on and keeps them engaged. Furthermore, they expect training to be ongoing. According to Pew Research, 89 percent of millennials agree with the statement, “It’s important to be constantly learning at my job.”

“Gamification,” or adding a game-like environment to non-game tasks is one important means to keep millennials engaged. Sixty-four percent of millennials own a gaming console, and many others play games on their phones, tablets or laptops.

It’s not enough to simply cater to the new generation of workers. CEOs want training to teach business acumen, business strategy and effective leadership, not just provide a license to have fun.

Here are six imperative ways companies and organizations can bring their training up to date.

Stop Telling People What to Think: No one likes to be preached to. Instead, focus on creating action learning modules in which participants can discover lessons on their own. Remember to leave time for participants to share with others what they learned.

Show People Why: People need to understand why a subject is important to effectively use the training materials. If participants recognize the importance of the topic, they will be more willing to take the time to learn it. Oftentimes, engagement means higher levels of information retention.

Give Participants Time to Practice: People learn by doing. According to “The Evidence for the Effectiveness of Action Learning,” by H. Skipton Leonard and Michael J. Marquardt, action learning:

  • Develops broad executive and managerial leadership skills,
  • Develops collaborative leadership skills,
  • Improves the ability of managers to develop win‒win solutions, and
  • Improves manager coaching skills.

Demonstrate the Impact the Learning Content Has on Business—Training today must be proven to have an impact on the bottom line. In an informal survey of 15 Fortune 500 senior executives, 93% wanted training to demonstrate a direct effect on business outcomes.

There’s even a buzzword for it – “bottom-line training.” Training takes time, energy, resources and money, and many organizations often ignore it because they spend too much energy trying to justify the bottom line. Training can be intangible, but it’s a tradeoff where the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Organizations need to invest a few dollars now to reap the bottom line rewards later.

Challenge People: If participants are bored, training is a failure. Use Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “flow concept” to get optimal performance from your participants. According to Csikszentmihalyi, people do best when the challenge and the ability to achieve the goal are balanced.

Bored employees do not produce. As Steve Jobs said in a Stanford commencement speech, “…for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been, ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Sage advice.

Create Friendly Competition: Finally, build on the idea of challenging people by providing a friendly, but competitive gaming environment. Create a game where participants compete against each other, demonstrating their ability to utilize the training content. By creating competition, trainees will be more involved in the training and invested in the outcomes.

Digital connectivity and rapid advances in technology have transformed the workplace and business models. Training must adapt to the shifting landscape. By using the six tips above, organizations can make the transition a positive experience.

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