One of the disruptive trends in talent development is challenging labor market, as the number of new entrants to the workforce is estimated to continually decline. Thus, keeping employees engaged and provide learning opportunities is critical to retaining millennial employees.

How do we tailor corporate learning to a generation that has a short attention span and is seemingly always preoccupied?

To find an answer, we need to connect with of Millennials and find ways to engage them with corporate learning initiatives. Here are five strategies to make corporate training appealing to Millennials.

1. Use Microlearning for Ad-hoc Learning Environments

Millennial learners have a lot on their minds as they are often juggling many tasks. As a result, they tend to have a short attention span. According to Bersin research on the modern learner, workers are interrupted every 5 minutes and they unlock their phones up to 9 times an hour. Thus, you need to grab their attention quickly and to get your message across before something else comes along and distracts them.

Simultaneously, ad hoc training is starting to be a large theme in e-learning. Today’s learners are used to being able to instantly access learning materials that only comprise just what they need at that time. As an example, if someone wants to learn how to use a function in Microsoft Excel, they may do a quick search for a YouTube video. Thus, materials have to be relevant and immediately applicable.

Micro-learning, a type of learning with bite-sized and specific content, answers to the need for short and appealing content, as well as to the rise of ad hoc training. Additionally, having these short training sprints also allows for more frequent learning, as 5-10 minute content, such as a podcast, can be easily slotted into nearly anyone’s day. In this type of micro-learning, the learner is the one in control, and is thus more likely to be engaged in the learning experience, leading to more learning and better retention over time.

2. Enable On-The-Go Learning by Making use of Wearables and Mobile Tech

Millennials utilize technology, such as mobile devices and wearables, to interact with others seamlessly via technology. For answering any small questions that arise in a personal or work context, there is an irresistible pull to grab a device and look for an answer.

Corporate learning should accommodate this urge by providing training opportunities through mobile technologies. This approach would increase opportunities for exposure to learning material. Combined with gamification, being encouraged to learn while commuting or during the work day, will spur engagement with the material.

Additionally, due to the social potential of technologies, they can be used to enhance communication and collaboration, even providing coaching opportunities on a smartwatch to receive immediate feedback.

It would be a waste not to take advantage of the ease with which Millennials keep their tech handy ready for use. Not only will this lower the border to fit e-learning into daily tasks, it will also make it easier to access materials anywhere, from any device, and at any time.

3. Utilize Gamification as a Tool to Motivate and Improve Learning

Gamification is a trend that has penetrated many aspects of daily life over the last decades. Applied to e-learning, gamification introduces playful and competitive elements in the online learning environment, thus millennial learners will be motivated to move on to the next learning task and keep track of their performance. Some examples are: collecting items as you progress through training content, introducing accomplishments, and using scoreboards to mimic a competition.

4. Appeal to Social Instincts by Designing Social Learning

Given the social characteristics of most tools the current Millennial workforce uses, it makes sense to appeal to social forces in online learning to engage them in your company training. By using digital platforms to which they are accustomed to and feel comfortable using, you meet the Millennial workers where they are (online), and how they interact (social).

Taking the use of an online platform as a given online learning environment, there are various ways to make this type of learning social within your organization. One way is to introduce collaborative learning, in which workers with similar jobs learn and grow together by working together and giving each other feedback. Another option is to introduce coaching, where more experienced employees coach those in the early stages of their career. In any case, whether it is peer or coaching interactions, immediate and ample feedback is an invaluable aspect of this type of social learning to Millennials.

5. Allow for Curated Personalized Learning

Given the different types of jobs and skills required in today’s organizations, it will be important to allow for curated learning experiences, which provide personalized learning for your learners.

A good example is employee onboarding training. Since roles vary widely, different employees will need to learn different things. Being able to go through the training of one topic and come back later to another component later allows your new hires to gain skills just at the time when they need them. In addition to enabling nonlinear training programs, this also allows for reference materials that can be referred back to when employees have a specific need for them.

By having your learners curate their own learning environment, they will be studying actively and have more control than by following a preset, linear training. Ultimately, this freedom in learning will improve employee retention and results in greater engagement with the organization.
Want to learn more about Millennials and Learning in a Corporate setting? Check out our blog on 6 Ways to Leverage Millennials to Build a Learning Organization!