By 2020, millennials will make up 50% of the global workforce. At the same time, “Nexters,” or Generation Z – those born after 2000 – will be out of school and making up 20% of the workforce themselves. In sum, the two youngest generations together will comprise nearly 70% of the global employee base within the next four years.
Is Your Training Program Ready?
Today it's not about age, but about how individuals – regardless of their generation – engage with training.
The way we use and perceive technology affects the way technology can be woven into our learning experiences. “Digital Natives” is a term used to describe the younger population who has grown up with technology (cell phones, social media, etc.,). Growing up immersed in technology was once a defining trait of a learner; however, with the younger generation filling out more of the workforce, they have effectively influenced the way we all learn. Today it's not about age, but about how individuals – regardless of their generation – engage with training.
Two Terms to Add to Your Vocabulary: Digital Visitors & Digital Residents
When you remove age from the equation, key learning tendencies start to reveal themselves. We can identify these tendencies by the ways learners engage with the online space. Digital Visitors usually use their online activity to benefit their offline lives, like paying bills or booking a vacation. They may use social media, but usually leave no trace of their presence online. Digital Residents on the other hand have grown comfortable truly existing in an online space. This means that though they will turn to digital platforms to improve their offline lives, they draw a much smaller distinction between their offline and online worlds.
Organizations around the world must rethink how they provide training—not just for the growing numbers of millennial employees but for all employees, as all age groups have evolving learning preferences. The good news, at least when it comes to millennials, is that members of that generation are especially eager—they rate training and development as more important than even cash bonuses.
As these demographic changes sweep across the business world, here are steps organizations can use to make sure your compliance training keeps pace:
1. Create Social, Online Learning Opportunities
Organizations should provide compliance content through internal social media channels, including messaging from compliance leaders to show they are willing to engage in the conversation. Also keep in mind that millennials value team learning, despite their individualistic reputations.
2. Encourage Peer-to-peer Learning
The key here is to create opportunities for employees to maximize the benefits of co-workers’ experiences and perspectives. Organizations should consider letting managers discuss case studies or best practices with each other online—making sure to respect confidentiality or specific case information.
3. Remember that Millennials Are Visual Learners
This generation grew up with visual media, and they prefer training with a strong design that mirrors the seamless digital experience they have come to expect. Good use of white space is a must and text should be broken up by visual elements.
4. Make Training Engaging
Use of music, art and games is a plus, and organizations should include online, in-person, video, podcasts and other training methods. With the changing attention span, shorter trainings are having greater impact.
5. Provide Feedback
Millennials crave evaluation. Games that show progress and provide a mix of short-, medium- and long-term rewards can be incorporated into compliance training. Individual achievements can be assigned point values that lead to rewards or other leaderboards that measure learners’ progress.
6. Brand Training as Professional Development
Millennials see training as something that can serve them throughout their careers, so organizations should brand it appropriately. This is especially significant regarding compliance training for managers, who will seek out skills and abilities (e.g., how to spot and avoid retaliation, how to investigate incidents, and how to resolve disputes) that can be useful for years to come.
These steps are especially timely today, in the face of some concerning trends. More than previous generations, millennials are willing to job hop, and their engagement (which is key in retention) is lower among millennials than other age groups. Beyond that, millennials have developed increased cynicism, lower trust of people and business and a desire to work for socially responsible and ethical companies.
All of this is important to note for your organization’s culture. Given demographic shifts and millennial preferences, it seems that maintaining a strong program may not be enough to prevent your employees’ views on compliance from turning sour.
To avoid that, compliance programs must be adaptive and innovative in the years ahead.