The Gen Y Effect on E-Learning
Generation Y is now a major player in the workforce. Baby Boomers are starting to ease their way into retirement and many businesses are going to rely on the Gen Y to fill the void. This poses a problem because Gen Y doesn’t approach the workplace in the same way as the Boomers have for the past few decades. Y has grown up in a different era, an era with unlimited access to information, media and entertainment. Baby Boomers struggle to program a VCR, their Gen Y children have access to and a mastery of technology never seen before. What does this mean to our business owners and large corporate employers? They have the responsibility of luring young talent and teaching them how to operate in business environment, Gen Y beats to the tune of a different drum, if you think they are going to respond the with the same grind it out mentality as their boomer parents you are mistaken. Creating a company culture that appeals to this generation is the key to unlocking their virtually unlimited potential. While Y may seem to lack some of the traditional traits employers loved in the boomers, they will find that if you peel back a few layers that Gen Y is certainly capable.
Gen Y has grown up in a world of instant access to information. They want it fast, interactive and accessible. E-learning technology and course development has grown tremendously over the past decade as the internet has evolved. E-learning technology has been embraced by many large corporations, and is a tool to help define and develop a company culture. There is however an opportunity for small to mid-sized businesses to capitalize on the swift moving technology in the e-learning world and is it as an advantage is luring and keeping top Gen Y talent.
The downside to being a large Fortune 1000 type corporate is that change rarely happen quickly. Multiple layers of management and department heads make it tough for big sweeping decisions to happen. This is where the mid-sized company can take advantage of being smaller. E-learning technology is moving changing daily as Gen Y is staring to make its mark on the industry. The advantage for smaller business is that it will take time for the larger companies to embrace the new technology. As is the case with anything technology related the price starts to come down as the technology improves.
This article is not intended to cover the benefit of e-learning for business, rather to point out that the evolution of the medium has made it more accessible than ever for companies of all sizes. Gen Y understands and expects e-learning technology. Some may have never set foot in a traditional college classroom, opting to learn completely online. There are a couple key factors to leveraging e-learning successfully with Gen Y that will help set your business apart and create a culture that attracts top talent.
Embrace BYOD. As I stated earlier, Gen Y wants to access information on their terms. That does not mean being tied to a company computer. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has become a popular term in the e-learning world because it embraces the mobile nature of the workforce. Mobile learning is evolving daily, but is certainly a big plus for the Y workforce.
Be Laser Focused. The traditional page turner, seat time based model of e-learning is dead, or a least should be. Unless you are offering continuing education credits to fill a requirement for a specific industry certification you should not be delivering online learning to your employees that is more that 15 minutes long. Attention spans are shorter than ever, this is especially true with Gen Y. Understand your objective and focus on it and nothing else. Short tactical learning modules are proven to increase retention of online learning material.
Use media wisely. I advocate using multiple forms of media in your e-learning development, but you must be aware of the first two points when using media. Mobile access puts some limitations on the use of certain types of media and you must be certain that whatever media is being used is only done to enhance the focus on your specific business objective.
E-learning technology is a powerful tool for developing employees and company culture. The constant evolution of e-learning technology has made it more accessible that ever for small and mid-sized business. This accessibility is a key for these businesses to attract and retain young talent entering the workforce. Understanding that young talent and the tenets of Generation Y will help set your learning initiatives apart and create a competitive advantage for workforce development.