One of the interesting things about working in the 21st century is diversity. Right now, many companies employ teams that are multigenerational. People born in the 1940s through the 2000s may work at the same business.
Age isn’t the only difference between employees. Different generations bring a different set of experiences. People born before the 1990s likely had little to no experience with technology in the classroom. Mobile phones and computers were not common in homes, or present at all for older generations.
Growing up with electronic devices often makes it easier to learn how to use them. Those who did not may be at a disadvantage when using technology.
It may not be feasible to build a separate training class for each age group. The first step to optimizing training content for everyone is to understand the expectations and experiences of the people you employ.
- Mature Employees
Mature employees include anyone born before 1945. This age group may be less common in the workforce, but they are still out there.
This group prefers an employer that shows some level of authority. They tend to remain at the same job for longer than younger generations. They are also less likely to speak up if something is wrong or incorrect.
They do better with a hands-on approach to learning and may prefer an in-person classroom setting. Be patient when using technology in training for mature employees. They may require more time to adapt. Also be aware of how to prevent cognitive overload in employee training to help them ease into digital formats.
- Baby Boomer Employees
Baby boomer employees are those born between 1946 and 1964. They also tend to stay at jobs longer than later generations, but not as long as older workers.
When it comes to employee training, baby boomers usually prefer training manuals and hard copy materials. Many will adapt to online coursework but will do better when all steps are presented from start to finish. That means that training should demonstrate how they get from step one to the final step in a process or when working toward a goal like a promotion.
This group does well with recognition and rewards. They appreciate bonuses, certificates, and giveaways. They also usually like to be involved in leadership and planning. Including them in the training process will help them stay motivated.
- Generation X Employees
Generation X employees were born between 1965 and 1980.This age group shifts further away from revering authority and more toward independence. They want flexibility in their jobs and will look for better opportunities if they don’t get it.
An honest, straightforward approach works best with Gen X. They tend to be skeptical and will question when they feel their employer isn’t being honest or transparent. Their sense of independence means they prefer self-directed training that lets them learn on their own schedule.
Using self-paced courses and mobile learning can help keep Generation X employees engaged and motivated. Also remember to include a variety of training options to maintain the flexibility that Gen X desires.
- Millennial Employees
Millennial employees are those born between 1981 and 1996. They tend to prefer a more informal approach to their professional lives. They appreciate collaboration and expect feedback for the work they do. Millennials also want lots of interaction and require a sense of purpose.
This generation grew up with technology, so they value on-demand information and resources in digital formats. They will likely have an easy time adapting to online training or other similar ed tech.
Include social collaboration, self-directed learning, and training initiatives to keep millennial employees happy and engaged. They want flexible learning activities that blend well with their lifestyles rather than rigid scheduled classes.
- Gen Z Employees
Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is currently the youngest age group you’ll find in the workforce. They are in their 20s or will be entering the workforce over the next decade. This generation is the largest, most ethnically diverse, and very tech savvy.
Access to and use of technology has a significant impact on Gen Z’s decision making in the workplace. They want training that uses tech and the internet. However, they also prefer face-to-face communication.
Gamification and games as well as video meetings work well with Gen Z learners. They tend to move at a faster pace than previous generations. They are also independent and competitive in nature. Training should reflect those traits to be as effective as possible.
Developing Employee Training for All Generations
Many learning management systems are available with different features. It’s important to consider your audience when choosing the right platform. You can visit LMS.org to read LMS reviews and see which offers the best fit based on your workforce’s needs.
You should first understand who is in your workforce and what they may require for effective training. You can also do the following to create a training program that works for everyone in your organization.
- Encourage Digital Literacy for Everyone
Digital literacy is a person’s ability to locate, evaluate, and communicate information on a digital platform. Encourage all workers to improve their digital literacy.
Remember that not everyone will come to your company with the same experiences. Provide training that is meant for those who have little to no knowledge of computers and online tools. Give them a strong foundation to build upon and they will be more likely to be successful in training and as employees.
- Leverage Institutional Knowledge
Institutional knowledge is an asset for any company. Usually, your older workers who have been with you the longest will hold the most institutional knowledge. This can become a problem as they leave or retire. When they go, they take their knowledge with them.
Let your older workers help your younger workers get up to speed by preserving and leveraging that institutional knowledge. Involve your subject matter experts in training. They can help you develop effective courses or could even serve as mentors or trainers.
Create shared documents that explain systems, processes, client information, or anything else that might be needed.
- Train Managers on Diversity and Inclusion
Your management team and trainers should understand diversity and inclusion. Today’s workforce is more diverse than those that came before. With people living longer, more adults are working later in life. That creates a broader range of age groups working together.
Your trainers and managers should understand inclusive leadership, unconscious bias, and psychological safety at work. This will give them the tools to manage and teach your team, no matter how big the age differences are between employees.
- Create Opportunities for Career Growth
Having goals keeps employees motivated and engaged. However, different generations may have different expectations when it comes to career growth.
Your training should reflect this to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to move in the direction they want to go. Provide training for specific roles or promotions. Make sure you cover the basics for new hires but also provide advanced training for older employees who may want to build upon their skillset.
Remember to apply the 7 psychological principles to use in your online training program to get the best results.
Having a diverse workforce that spans multiple generations can be a boon for a company. You can benefit from different perspectives and experiences. It’s important to make sure training addresses the needs of all workers while continuing to align with your business goals.