I make training software for growing businesses and I was born in 1988, so you could say I have a unique perspective on the millennial-training conundrum, which effectively posits that the millennial generation is annoyingly difficult to engage in corporate training programs.
With that in mind, I went ahead and put together a little cheat sheet for anyone who needs to reach millennials with their training materials. Here we go:
1. LENGTH: You hear it all the time: we millennials can’t concentrate for jack. Why then, would you throw an hour-long training lesson at us when we’re likely to appreciate four 15-minute lessons a lot more?
And this isn’t just for us: Gen X and anybody with a schedule will appreciate bite-size lessons, too. So don’t make us beg: break it down, baby, into chunks we can digest on the go.
2. DEVICE: Because, you know, we’re always on the go, your training material better be able to come with us. When I’m at my desk, I have work to do. Things to get done. But, when I’m on the subway to work, or killing time between meetings, I can catch up on emails and training, if you let me.
So make sure your training plays nicely with our smartphones and tablets, and don’t make me download an app for that. I don’t want that app. I just want to know what I need to know, now.
3. APPLICABILITY: Would you ignore a lesson if it talked down to you, or if it slowly explained something you’ve known for ages? I would, too.
Having training materials handy for all the things is a great idea, but forcing everyone to engage with those materials isn’t.
Here’s the reality: When we force people to re-learn things they already know, we don’t just waste their time, we waste company time. On top of that, we’re teaching our learners to have a cognitive disinterest in training, where they think, “I’m sure I already know that. I knew everything about the last lesson.”
So, train intelligently. Make all your learning material easily accessible, but choose your mandatory needs wisely to ensure that you’re not pushing people to tune out.
One way to accomplish this is to create an internal University. We’ve made one internally. Everyone knows about it, and it’s comprehensive, so, when you need something, you go there. Had we taken all the University lessons and assigned them all willy-nilly, folks would have rightfully said, “But I don’t need all of this right now?” And we might have lost them.
4. TL;DR: Keep it short, device agnostic, and relevant. End of story.
I am sorry we are so needy, but I promise we’ll get better. Just give us time, and before too long, we’ll be complaining about that generation that’s coming next.
I mean, have you seen the way they talk?