Ritu is a 25-year-old who has just started working with Bizcom Solutions. Her typical day involves some smart work during office hours, connecting with friends on WhatsApp, updating her Instagram stories about the café she visited over the weekend, tracking the latest fashion trends from designers on her FB/Insta newsfeed and watching Netflix. This is how she stays pepped up for work. She looks forward to the weekends to attend her salsa lessons. Interestingly, she works harder on acquiring salsa skills than on the job that pays her salary! Well, Ritu is a typical millennial. And engaging her generation in learning programs is surely a challenge.
Who are they?
Millennials are born in the era of smartphones and are often found glued to their instant messenger. ‘Instant’ is the word that best describes their lifestyle. They are used to instant messaging, instant gratification, fast food and most of it on the click of an app. They believe in acting fast and lack the patience to wait for results. Characterized by a shorter attention span, they are prone to boredom and find it hard to stick to a mundane schedule.
How do they learn?
Ritu loves to learn in a social setting. She is not averse to discussing conflicting perspectives. In fact, her most lively conversations and ‘aha’ moments are over a cup of coffee debating the pros and cons of seemingly controversial subjects
Millennials are comfortable learning in a collaborative environment that involves group-based projects. They are more receptive to varying ideologies.
They prefer gadgets over books and survive on ‘google’ search. Who wants to look through a shelf full of books if they can get answers within seconds?
Recently, Ritu was invited for a training program where she had to sit through some lectures on new technologies in a classroom setting in front of an external expert. Ritu literally slept off. The next training she attended was based on lively discussions, presentations and activities where Ritu got a chance to express her views in a non-judgemental set-up. She enjoyed that a lot more.
Unlike baby boomers, millennials are more likely to engage in learning activity if it is delivered in a friendly non-authoritative format in a less formal learning environment. Their engagement enhances if they can informally interact with their mentor and one another and can connect with the mentor on a personal level.
Apart from this, a fun and effective way to learn is using technology. With almost everything available on mobile, learning content can be delivered through an app to enable self-paced learning. Microlearning is a great way to teach employees without boring them to death in a lengthy training session that does not seem to keep them engaged. Learning can take place on the move without using much of their time and energy.
Offline game-based learning is also a good option as it plays a major role in building teams and also offers valuable lessons in conflict management. It also improves their decision-making skills and prepares them as leaders for tomorrow.
Reebok, Tiffany & Co., Google, Facebook, Cigna, Dell, Coca-Cola and many more companies have opted for a number of situation based fun games such as SpyGame, AprentRace, National Treasure and Office Escape Room focused on testing and building participant’s strategizing, team building, thinking on their feet, problem solving, time management, communication, leadership and creative thinking ability.
What do they want to learn?
Millennials love to take out time for their hobbies and passions and hate it when their job deprives them of these simple joys that add vibrancy and motivation to life. Organizations should find out what drives their employees and facilitate them in their pursuit of happiness. Anything ranging from a workout session at the gym, fitness at Zumba classes, dance classes, life photography classes or passionate cooking classes can be carried out either over the weekend or post the office hours to revive their spark. This really enhances engagement and drives loyalty in organizations.
Several Fortune 500 companies have integrated this into their L&D strategy.
Management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company offers a personal development program called “Take Time” wherein the staff are invited to take 5 to 10 weeks out of work to pursue a personal passion.
SAP has 33 interest groups to cater to specific activities like drama, music, art, dance etc to help employees pursue an interest of their choice.
Google provides its employees with the opportunity to spend one day of a week working on a personal project of their choice to pursue their passion, be it music or drama or some other form of art. What is surprising is that they have everything under one roof. Employees have access to fully equipped gyms with trainers and customized health programs. For those who love to play, gaming zones comprising of table tennis, pool, football, air hockey, etc is a paradise. It doesn’t stop here, they can avail one of the several sleep pods for a quick nap. After all, a little bit of sleep does no harm!
Another interesting approach is to allow millennials to try out the products or services they intend to sell – they can learn much more from their experiences than merely the project files handed to them. These experiences, in turn, help them get better at their job.
Mahindra & Mahindra Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors offers ‘Mahindra Adventure’ a fun and adventure program that gives employees a chance to explore and test out the off-road capabilities of Mahindra vehicles. With a series of popular off-roading events, the Great Escape, and several Adventure Challenges & multi-Day Escapes, the Company delivers its promise of providing adrenalin-pumping challenges.
Have you employed any of these learning methodologies in your organization yet?