Published in May/June 2018
Talent development is the second biggest challenge facing HR executives at organizations today, according to Bersin by Deloitte. It is estimated that companies spend more than $130 billion per year on employee development, with leadership development taking up the single largest area of spending.
According to the Inc. Magazine article, “The Secrets of Successful, Fast-Growing Businesses Today–and Plans for Tomorrow,” 61 percent of the 2016 Inc. 500 CEOs and founders prefer to develop employees by providing outside training. However, only 28 percent have a formal leadership development program.
The 2016 North American external spend on training courses was $28.1 billion, according to Training Industry. Yet 80 percent of managers who change behavior after training maintain the training six months or less before going back to their old ways, according to Grovo’s 2017 “Good Manager, Bad Manager” report.
Effective training is either nonexistent or not working in today’s 21st-century workplace. The way in which training is developed and delivered for the modern workplace must change, especially if you are trying to train the 60 percent of millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, who want workplace training to develop their leadership skills.
As someone who has spoken to thousands of professionals on the topic of leading and developing the emerging generations (millennials and Generation Z), is a millennial, and has built a next generation training company, I have identified six must-have mobile learning elements to effectively train the next generation.
But first, let’s understand how important training is to the emerging generations.
The Next Generation & Training
The number one factor millennials consider when starting a new job is “sufficient training,” according to a recent survey of 1,500 millennials conducted by the software firm, Qualtrics, and venture capital firm, Accel Partners.
Training rather than company culture, workplace flexibility, salary, or company perks is what millennials want most when starting a new job and what they use to evaluate whether or not they made the right employer choice.
Training is also an organization’s strongest strategy when it comes to retaining millennials.
Seventy-one percent of millennials who are likely to leave an organization in two years are dissatisfied with how their leadership skills are being developed, according to the 2016 Deliotte Millennial Survey. And according to The Hartford’s 2015 Millennial Leadership Survey, 69 percent of millennials aspire to be leaders in the next five years and 60 percent of millennials want training to develop their leadership skills.
According to the Qualtrics survey, roughly 80 percent of millennials said that an emphasis on personal growth is the most important quality of a company’s culture.
And more and more emerging Generation Z professionals (those born after 1998) are likely to forego a traditional college education to go to work for an employer who offers university-like training. “[Generation Z] students are asking corporate recruiters whether companies will help them get new skills as jobs shift,” says James Manyika, chairman of the McKinsey Global Institute.
Training is critical because it’s one of the few organizational aspects that touches every phase of the employee lifecycle. Training will be even more critical moving forward because the emerging generations know they will have highly varied and the longest careers of any generation before them. Training will be the lifeblood of their careers, and they’ll be looking to their employer to provide it.
As work cycles spin faster, the re-skilling and developing of employees becomes paramount. Cutting-edge companies like AT&T, GE, Visa, Qualcomm and IBM are investing in innovative training solutions to help them pivot into the world of continuous and on-demand learning and development in order to attract and retain millennials and Generation Z.
New Generation Requires New Training
Company perks, recruiting, customer service and marketing are evolving to reach millennials and Generation Z, so why is company training so far behind?
With 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day and a devastating lack of professional development for the generation who will replace the retiring leaders, it’s no surprise that Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends reported that 89 percent of executives rate the need to strengthen, reengineer and improve organizational leadership as an important priority.
The next generation has a growing appetite for training that isn’t present inside organizations.
The reason millennials are the most highly scrutinized generation of all time is that they put a face to the change that every industry and individual is facing in today’s turbulent times. The next generation provides data points into what’s next…what’s next for your business, leadership, communication, marketing, and now more than ever, training.
The better you understand the emerging generations, the better positioned you’ll be to deliver effective training in 2018 and beyond. Because millennials grew up (and Generation Z is growing up) with ubiquitous connectivity and evolving mobile technology, they think and act differently. A large majority of the emerging generations cannot remember a world where a smart mobile device has been outside of arms reach. That has changed everything for them.
Mobile technology has rewired how the emerging generations socialize, network, buy, communicate, learn and show up to work. Millennials approach problems and learning fundamentally differently than previous generations thus they require an evolved, mobile-first approach to training.
Must-Have Mobile Learning Elements
- Brief and Beautiful
There is more competing for the time and attention of the emerging workforce than ever before. The media millennials and Generation Z consume is bite-sized thus the training they are likely to consume has to be brief and succinct. They also have a high expectation for technology to be simple, intuitive and beautifully designed.
Next generation training has to be beautiful. If the training content doesn’t appear to mirror what millennials and Generation Z would consume on a regular basis on a mobile device, they will be less likely to engage and retain the information.
- Agile and Accessible
The 21st-century employee is untethered. They are remote workers, bringing their own device or applications to work and finding new ways to execute work and structure their day. Training must be digitally native and mobile in order to be effective for the next generation of learners. It has to be agile and accessible to fit into the active lives of millennial and Generation Z employees.
Next generation training needs to be delivered in short intervals where learners can easily insert the training in their day-to-day lives. How and when millennials and Generation Z learn is more important than what they learn because the “what” won’t matter if they don’t have enough time to consume it or if accessing the training is over-complicated.
- Instant and Intelligent
Receiving a notification from Google Maps that traffic is heavy before starting your commute is informative and helpful. Information is being delivered instantly and intelligently to the palm of our hand.
Why can’t training take a similar form where you receive an intelligent notification about powerful public speaking tips (for example) instantly on your phone while walking to a meeting where you’ll be presenting to a team.
Millennials and Generation Z will turn to their smartphone to find just-in-time answers to unexpected problems. Information and learning is being accessed much differently today than in years past. Deploying intelligent training via quick how-to articles, videos, or interactive infographics where learners can pull down the content for instant application is ideal for the next generation.
- Collaborative and Communal
A majority of workplace learning happens via on-the-job interactions with teammates, managers, and in-house subject matter experts. Creating digital communities where millennials and Generation Z can learn from experts, managers, and their peers and also contribute their own experience or expertise is impactful and empowering.
When mobile training offers collaborative technology and a communal environment it helps to build relationships, diminish silos, shrink geographies, enhance personal influence and promote sharing.
- Relevant and Relatable
The accelerated change happening at work and in business means everyone needs to commit to continuous learning. This also means that training has to be hyper-relevant to the specific and evolving challenges millennials and Generation Z face at work. If the content isn’t relevant and relatable for the learner, retention and recall of the information will suffer.
Creating mobile training that addresses a relevant need and provides a solution or applications that are relatable for the learner is key for engagement.
- Blend and Bind
For the digitally dependent emerging generations, it’s imperative that their training merge digital with real-world activities. Offline, in-person, or classroom training remains impactful and transformational in today’s digital age. A blended approach to training binds one’s learning.
Mobile training that prompts, encourages and rewards millennials and Generation Z learners for real-world interaction and application will not only be effective for binding the learning but will provide a much needed in-person element to round out the leaners’ experience.
In order to prompt development, sustain engagement, achieve transformation and improve retention among your millennial and Generation Z workforce, integrate these mobile elements into your next generation training.