Does your workforce include “the silent generation,” “baby boomers,” “generation X-ers,” and “millennials?”
Employers with workforces that span multiple generations are realizing the need for something more than a one-size-fits-all approach to training. Each generation brings different motivations, work habits, and technology comfort levels to the mix. How can you address the elearning needs of your workforce without leaving anyone behind?
Acknowledge and Celebrate the Differences
It is important to avoid making sweeping generalizations about workers based solely on age. An older worker may be completely comfortable with the hyper-connected world of tweeting and texting, and a younger worker may excel in decision-making scenarios and collaborative projects. This unique blend makes for a dynamic and diverse workforce. And, because these differences are inevitable, your training approach should be flexible enough to accommodate all kinds of learners.
Audience Assessments are Important
Nothing is more boring than having to sit through a course when you already know the material. Take care to assess the different populations prior to developing your courses so that you can focus on the relevant knowledge gaps. Consider your diverse audience when determining the reading-level difficulty and course navigation controls so that your courses are accessible to learners with a wide range of educational backgrounds and computer expertise. Remember to keep fonts simple and large enough on screen for those with vision challenges, and unclutter the screen by using simple and visually appealing backgrounds. Narration should be clear, professional, and paced for maximum comprehension.
Explain Why They are Learning
The “why” is just as important as the “what” when designing training courses for a multi-generational workforce. Provide interesting case studies and dramatic narratives that illustrate the training gap. Pull learners in by demonstrating outcomes that will move the trainee and the company toward tangible goals. Include scenarios that are relevant to their everyday work experiences so they can see how their learning will be put into action.
Create a Flexible Learning Environment
Consider mixing up your online training modalities with a blend of elearning, expert mentoring, quick job aids, discussion forums, and the like. Make links to downloadable written materials readily available for those who prefer to read and review, and provide a collaborative group or mentor for those who enjoy discussing scenarios and solutions. Elearning modules that provide learning through games may pull in those who’ve grown up with a game controller in their hands, while wikis and blogs may appeal to workers who prefer a more measured approach. Segment the training into smaller pieces, and allow workers to “test out” of sections of the material that they already know. This will give them greater flexibility and control over their training. Courses that don’t require a time limit will empower those who like to learn at a slower pace.
Provide Help Close at Hand
For all modes of online training, make sure that help and support are readily available. Show workers where they can find links to tech support, and provide phone numbers or email addresses of mentors or company gurus on a given subject. Regardless of their generation, workers need to know where to turn for answers when they need help with elearning.
Reward and Reinforce
While a simple “Congratulations! Great job!” is nice to extend at the completion of a course, a more creative approach can provide positive reinforcement and create an eagerness for the next training experience, regardless of the worker’s age. Consider sending an email to the employee’s supervisor praising his or her performance in the course or declaring a formal admittance to an “honors circle” of trained employees. As they continue to gain skills, designate them on the company intranet with an “expert” icon. Find unique ways to promote a sense of accomplishment and teamwork and show respect for their learning efforts.
Measure, Adjust, and Measure Again
Of course you will want to conduct assessments to determine if the learning objectives have been achieved. However, go beyond the standard testing, and gather feedback on your audience’s learning experience. Was the training relevant and realistic? What was their favorite part of the training? Were the links and downloads helpful? Did they have difficulties with any aspect of the learning? Where can the delivery methods be improved to reach all generations? Continue to refine your training approach based on the results.
A multi-generational workforce presents unique opportunities for your organization. Creating a collaborative and all-inclusive approach to elearning will ensure that your entire employee population gains the important skills and expertise necessary for organizational success.
ProEdit can help you analyze your workforce learning needs and customize a training approach that is flexible and dynamic. Contact us today!