Gone are the days of the uniform workplace. Today’s workforce isn’t defined by any one race or gender, and it also isn’t dominated by one age group. In fact, for the first time, five generations of people are active members of the labor supply:
- Traditionalists (born before 1946)
- Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
- Generation X (born between 1965 and 1984)
- Millennials (born between 1982 and 1994)
- Generation Z (born after 1994)
Offices today could be mistaken for family gatherings, with those who grew up without the internet working alongside those who don’t know the world before smartphones.
These generations work closely together to create new products, sell and market services, meet about company initiatives, and perform other important business functions. They share the workspace and occupy the same teams, but should they receive the same training? Should traditionalists be expected to learn using the same methodology and delivery as millennials? Will Generation Z shake up learning for Generation X? Do baby boomers want specific learning programs?
Training a multigenerational workforce might seem like a great challenge, but the truth is, we’re not all that different. Seeing your multigenerational team as a strength rather than a hindrance or an obstacle to overcome is easy when you realize that you have more talent than ever before.
Here are a few tips for training your five generations.
Don’t let yourself believe that traditionalists don’t know how to check their emails or that millennials can’t sit still for instructor-led training. Drawing lines around your training groups won’t help you provide effective training, nor will it help team members learn new materials.
Understanding what your learners enjoy and respond to on an individual level will help you determine what training topics and methods work best. Consider using focus groups, surveys, or simple rating systems such as “likes” and “stars” to better understand what your learners need.
Your workforce now has a wider breadth of talent and knowledge than ever before. You have access to skills that have been learned and mastered over the past eight decades. As your team becomes more diverse, learn to celebrate that diversity as a strength.
Video, Video, Video
Video is one of the most effective learning tools for any generation. It’s the most shared form of content by baby boomers, and Generation Z’s video consumption is higher than any other age group. Video is a perfect medium for e-learning, because it’s proven to boost attendance, change the way people learn and increase success. Learners are likely to watch a short, engaging video before clicking to the next slide in your e-learning course, especially if that video begins playing automatically.
Based on pre- and post-assessments of learners, we know that video helps learners retain information at a higher level than a slide with text or a PDF handout. Coupled with built-in knowledge checks and measurement tools, knowledge retention from video courses increases even more.
Nurture Peer-to-Peer Relationships.
Use the convergence of wisdom and experience to nurture peer-to-peer mentoring relationships. While the “young worker” and “older boss” dynamic is traditionally imagined as mentorship, consider the attributes that different generations can use to support each other. Peer relationships can help your multigenerational workforce learn how to better communicate with each other and can help them solve problems and understand new concepts.
Prioritize Communication and Teamwork.
Create teams with multiple generations in mind to encourage communication and teamwork. Use communication platforms like Slack or Hangouts, and provide proper training to make sure everyone understands how the platforms work and why communication is essential to teamwork. It’s also important to foster respectful environments in which all generations of team members feel comfortable contributing.
Remember that your multigenerational workforce is a strength. As job roles evolve and the workforce becomes more globalized, generations will continue to enter the workforce with increased speed and ability. Learning how to train these generations will only help your company become more efficient.