The modern workforce will soon be taken over by Millennials, and L&D departments are starting to realize they have to act quickly to adapt to the Millennial learning style. Day-long trainings have become outdated, and a transition is taking place to shorter, more frequent trainings. The big question is: how do we tailor corporate learning to a generation that has a short attention span and is always busy? To find an answer, we have to look at the characteristics of this generation and find ways to engage them with your corporate learning initiatives. Here are five strategies to make corporate training appealing to Millennials.

1. Use Microlearning for Ad-hoc Learning Environments

Modern 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. […] Wait – where was I? Oh yes, writing about a short attention span. […] In fact, according to Bersin research on the Modern Learner, workers get interrupted every five minutes and if that is not distracting enough, they unlock their phones up to nine times an hour. Working environments are demanding with an ever-increasing number of things competing for attention. Learners like to watch videos, but won’t watch much beyond the first four minutes–and the first 5-10 seconds is even more critical. 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 eLearning. 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 on the topic. 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 chunks 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

Part of the ‘being social’ of Millennials is to interact with others seamlessly via technology. Mobile devices, and increasingly, wearables, help to enable this. The Millennial has (or wants to have) access to her mobile device 24/7. 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 your smartwatch throughout activities to receive immediate feedback.

It would be a waste not to take advantage of the ease with which Millennials keep their tech mobile and handy and have them meet the learning content on these technologies. Not only will this lower the border to fit eLearning 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. Additionally, from an early age onward learning is thought to best be done while playing. Somehow, however, as we age we are expected to become serious and read through tough textbooks and endure hourlong trainings.

Gamification in eLearning reverses this trend. By introducing playful and competitive elements in the online learning environment your learners will be motivated to move on to the next learning task and keep track of their performance. Some examples of this are collecting items as you progress through training content, introducing accomplishments, and using scoreboards to mimic a competition.

Another development that builds on the gamification component of Online Learning is a VR-empowered environment in which learners can go through trial-and-error scenarios to practice. Not only does this make learning fun, it also makes for better retention. The well-known 70-20-10 rule claims that 70 percent of all learning takes place on the job. The great part about having a VR-environment in which your learners can practice, is that this most closely matches the environment in which they are experiencing 70 percent of their learning. Learning-by-doing in real life is preceded by learning-by-doing in a VR-setting.

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. Online collaboration and communication forms a large part of Millennials’ success in performing their jobs. By using digital platforms to which they by now have become 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 those higher up the ladder 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, but also the different types of learners and different learning paces your organization will be dealing with in your eLearning endeavor, allowing for personalised learning and a curated learning experience is key. This is especially true in the case of onboarding trainings.

Every type of learner is different. Although you will want to have them progress through the same content, you may want to enable them to personalize the curriculum so as to allow them to go through the materials in a nonlinear fashion. For example, while onboarding, employees may encounter certain job tasks at different times. Being able to go through the training of one aspect first and coming back to another component later allows your new hires to gain skills just at the time when they start needing them. In addition to allowing for nonlinear training programs, you will also want to leave some room for your employees to complement the learning materials you have provided them with extra, external resources. Examples of those are Youtube videos, TED-talks, research articles, but also Codecademy trainings and what more.

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 add to retention and a more positive overall learning experience.

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!