As the millennial generation has poured into the workplace, it’s become a hot topic among company and HR leaders alike about how to motivate, engage, develop, and retain the different generations in the workforce. But is the difference real or perceived?
I was recently asked to present on a webinar panel that aimed to explore generational differences in learning, and how companies need to adapt (or not) their formal learning approaches.
What surfaced was that while there may be some truth to differences in generational approaches to learning, the differences are driven more by societal trends that can, and often do, affect and influence everyone in the workforce.
Take technology for example. Sure, millennials grew up in the era of the Internet, and generally are quite comfortable using technology to help them learn. But many Gen Xers and Boomers are equally (and sometimes more) tech savvy and have quickly jumped onboard with the latest and greatest gadgets, apps, and media.
Likewise, the shift from hierarchical, top-down organizational structures and management styles to flatter, matrixed and more collaborative approaches has impacted people’s expectations about how they learn and who they can learn from. “Education” is no longer viewed as teachers lecturing from the front of classrooms – it happens in global project teams, through social media forums, from online videos, inside virtual classrooms, through peer and leader mentors.
Companies who want to nurture a culture of learning and incentivize continuous growth and development should consider the following:
Learning is no longer “one-size-fits-all.” We all have – regardless of our generation – our own personal learning styles and preferences. There are millennials (myself included) who prefer to learn face-to-face and Boomers who love to watch “how-tos” on YouTube. We now just have a lot more choice about how we can learn.
If you are interested in hearing more on this topic, check out the replay of the webinar: 4 Generations: How to Make Learning Part of Your Brand.