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Paolo Lenotti

Excel with Business & Filtered

Marketing Director

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Managing the Training Requirements of Generation Y


There has been a lot of coverage recently regarding the young workforce of today and how their behaviour differs from that of the previous generations. As a member of this younger demographic it’s very interesting to see what traits we supposedly adhere to or have had thrust upon us by our peers or elders.

It’s obvious to say that, due to the different conditions that people of differing eras have been accustomed to during their formative years, each cohort will have a different set of characteristics, values, expectations and motivators compared to their predecessors or successors. This is none truer when applied to the workplace. This article compares the characteristics of generation y in the workplace to that of the preceding generations and discusses how to manage the training of the latest generation, highlighting the benefits that companies will find if they adopt a modern approach to training young staff.

The current young workforce are known as Generation Y (the previous was Generation X and before them came the Baby Boomers) but are also referred to as millennialsecho boomers and the internet generation. Generation Y refers to individuals born between 1980 and 2000 and they are commonly described as being, on the whole, technology-savvy, family-centric, achievement orientated, team players and attention-craving (regarding feedback and being kept in the loop).

To put this into some sort of context, Generation X are said to be good revenue generators, are much better at adapting to situations, better problem solvers and more collaborative than their younger counterparts. The Baby Boomers, our parent’s generation, believe that hard work equals long hours, are committed to their employer in the long term and less likely to move around, feel that success is more easily achieved individually rather than from teamwork and value companies that are seen to deliver social responsibility.

study by Ashridge Business School and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) in 2011 found that the UKs recent graduates are academically talented and motivated to succeed. However, the study also found that the graduates have a certain level of dissatisfaction with the speed at which they are progressing within their current organisations. They value money and status; 45% of graduates they spoke to believe their salary to be below their expectation and 30% said the same of their job status. This may explain why 57% of the group surveyed expected to leave their employer within two years and 40% within one year. However, this does’t mean they aren’t engaged with their company or motivated to help the organisation succeed, as 75% of these individuals professed to be proud to work for their company and 73% motivated to help said organisation succeed.

So where does this dissatisfaction with progression stem from? Normally progression in the workplace comes from either receiving structured training or by learning on the job (experience within the role) or a combination of the two.

Regarding training, interestingly, it seems that many graduates are receptive to training and may even base decisions of companies to work for, in part, down to the level of training they will receive. According to the Accenture 2013 College Graduate Employment Survey, more than 77% of pending 2013 graduates expected their first employer to provide formal training, but only 48% of 2011 and 2012 graduates report having received it in their first job. The survey polled a little more than 1,000 students who will graduate from college between 2011 and 2013.

So does the dissatisfaction stem from not receiving the training they were expecting, and in turn not being able to prove they have the skills to climb the ladder? If training – or a lack of - is to blame, then surely introducing more training is a relatively simple and achievable solution?

The key, however, is not simply introducing more training but introducing the right training to suit this demographic. From a character point of view, generation Y have another set of common traits associated with them. They crave information but the information must be relevant to them and delivered in the most efficient way possible. Without this they lose attention (another common preconception – short attention span). This reliance on technology means that they are not engaged by dated, non-interactive materials but instead crave the latest technological platforms. They also need instant gratification and will ask for feedback at every opportunity. Remember, this is the Google generation we’re talking about - they’ll just look something up on the web if we don’t know the answer.

So how do companies structure training to appeal to this tech-savvy but impatient section of the workforce?

Young staff need not only an advanced platform but also interactivity in order to get the most from their training. Keeping them engaged is the key to successful training – they need more than just text on a hand out or a dated PowerPoint presentation read out by a stuffy lecturer. Resources like interactive quizzes, video content and simulations are all things which will help support computer based training favoured by the young workforce. If you can develop an element of a game or role play into your training this can be very successful. They respond very well to interacting with other users and when acting out real life situations.

Optimising training so that it can be applied to mobile channels is also very important to digitally competent individuals. The ability to take content anywhere and have 24/7 access remotely is a key benefit and unique selling point when it comes to training. Not having to be in a classroom environment but instead supplement learning at home, work or when travelling is something that appeals hugely.

There is also a growing trend in companies using social media channels to store their training content. The trend started around two years ago amongst IT firms and now companies including PepsiCo, HP and Adidas use this as a training medium. Again, as this is the generation that has grown up with these platforms, the majority (if not all) of the demographic have a high level of proficiency with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so developing content to suit these platforms seems like a no-brainer.

So the key to training Generation Y seems to be to embrace technology and to give them an interactive, portable learning experience supplemented with tools and additional material. The more engaging, relevant and concise the information, the more likely they are to absorb the material. Also, give them the opportunity to get feedback on what they have learnt and raise any queries they have as and when. But what benefits, apart from engaging staff in the training they are undertaking, does using e-learning have for a company?

Firstly, the use of modern training methods will increase the overall employees’ engagement beyond training. According to another study by Accenture from 2009, 52% of staff agreed that a company’s use of technology is a key factor for selecting that employer, showing that employees are more engaged in companies that embrace technology whether for daily practise or for training learning. In conjunction with this, the Towards Maturity Benchmark Study concluded that 77% of businesses believe that using different learning technologies will help their staff adapt better to the ever changing business conditions that they face. Finally a study by MSW Research found that companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. 

So it’s settled then, adopting a modern training approach using advanced e-learning platforms will result in better engagement for your staff and lead to greater productivity and better results. This seems like a pretty conclusive array of reasons why to invest in e-learning regardless of the generation it’s aimed at!

Author Profile Picture
Paolo Lenotti

Marketing Director

Read more from Paolo Lenotti

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