Gen-z and millennials in the workplace: how do they learn?
In the last decade, 2 new generations have entered the workforce. Millennials and Gen-Z.
Both seem to be a similar age group, so what’s the difference in how they learn at work? Well, the generational gap has widened, technology has grown exponentially over the last 10 years and these two groups of young people grew up in two very different worlds.
This means they definitely have some varying wants and needs when it comes to how they operate and learn in the workplace.
Here at Lingel, learning styles are what we do best. Let’s look at some of the different ways Millennials & Gen-Z learn at work and what drives their decisions around this.
WHAT DEFINES A MILLENNIAL?
Enter the Millennial, born approximately between 1981 and 1994 – they grew up with the internet, but not social media. Most can remember 9/11 and the early days of MySpace and Facebook as teenagers.
WHAT IS GEN-Z?
Followed by their younger siblings, Gen-Z consists of current pre-teens, teenagers and those in their early-mid 20s, with birth years falling somewhere around 1997 to 2012. These young people are heavy users of Tik-Tok, have a distinctive sense of humour centred around mid-2010s internet culture, despise skinny jeans and will laugh at you if you still have a side-part in your hair.
Honourable mention to the ‘Zillennials’, a cusper generation born around the mid-90s. With a blurry memory of 9/11 and a slight Tik-Tok addiction, they may have a middle parting in their hair but they will also still have skinny jeans in their closet.
TELL US MORE ABOUT GEN-Z:
The new kids on the block, these folks have no recollection of a world without social media. With their parents having posted their baby pictures on Facebook in the late 00s and early 10s, there has never been a period of their life completely offline.
When applying for jobs, there is no need for them to declare themselves as ‘computer literate’, capable of using Microsoft office or even let you know their
typing speed. These traits are intrinsic to their identity as a generation and have become a given.
HOW DO THEY LEARN?:
As a result of their technology dominated upbringing, Gen-Z are not just digital natives, but digital experts. They spent their early years learning with a mix of computers and tablets in school rather than predominantly textbooks, pens and pencils.
Now, university aged, many are learning solely online due to the pandemic and the rise of online learning. It’s very likely this will carry over after graduation and continue in carving out the new remote-workplace culture.
HOW DO THEY WANT TO LEARN AT WORK?
E-learning is neither a new nor novel concept to Gen-Z and when it comes to how they gather information at work, this is the key to retaining them as employees. Gen-Z generally crave independent learning, working from home with a plethora of online resources, software and tech-heavy duties.
Short and fast bursts of communication with channels like Slack are essential to retaining Gen-Z talent, having instantaneous ways to ask questions and vast amounts of resources is fundamental to their learning process. The old ways of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’ will not keep your Gen-Z talent around for long.
These young people are naturally hungry for innovation and optimisation through technology, as well as a need for quick responses, having been raised with instant messenger services at their fingertips. Outside of work they practice these skills by taking in large and fast amounts of information via Tik-Tok and Snapchat, naturally this immediacy translates into the workplace.
With a strong reputation for being eco-conscious, they see office commutes as not only pointless but bad for the environment. Gen-Z already have all the technology they need to do their job at home, they learn easily in the comfort of their ready-to-go, personal home offices/bedrooms.
WHAT ABOUT MILLENNIALS?
Younger Millennials will remember a world without social media, but not without the internet. For the vast majority, much of their school life was spent learning the ins and outs of how to use a computer, rather than using one to learn.
Older Millennials are much the same, but on a much more simplistic scale and without the influence of mainstream pop-culture intertwining into their first experience of computers.
WHERE DO MILLENNIALS WANT TO LEARN IN THE WORKPLACE?
Millennials are generally more in favour than Gen-Z of working in the office and can appreciate mixed collaboration as well as independence. Many are not team #WFH as they value the in-person, social aspect of learning at work, likely stemming from the ethics that their baby-boomer parents instilled in them from a young age.
However, plenty do prefer a hybrid model to working, unopposed to the new flexibility of remote work, but excited to meet with their colleagues for discussion on a project a few days a week (or a game of ping-pong and a craft beer)
Millennials also tend to favour open-plan and collaborative workspaces for brainstorming ideas and see the benefits these environments can bring. Having entered the workforce pre-pandemic at a time when ‘Buzzfeed’ office videos were all the rage – the trendy, open workspaces, casual dress codes and wine- Fridays are still very appealing to them to feel supported in their workplace learning.
HOW CAN MILLENNIALS TRANSITION TO AN ONLINE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT AT WORK?
Luckily for Millennials, they are naturally adaptable, having grown up in a time when the world’s economic and sociological attitudes were shifting exponentially, rolling with the punches through the throws of the Third Industrial Revolution, information technology had already completely changed the landscape of the working world, taking everything from paper to digital since the last quarter of the 20th Century – rapid change has always been a certainty for them.
The overnight switch to remote work and e-learning is far from the greatest challenge they have faced collectively. To encourage Millennials to adopt a remote work style, their success will be contingent on allowing them to feel supported even when potentially working from across the globe.
Clear and consistent communication through channels like Slack, Monday, Zoom calls and Email will help to alleviate any feelings of loneliness and isolation whilst transitioning to life outside the traditional office space.
Finally, a solid foundation of training and support when working is a key factor in retaining Millennial talent. That’s where Learning Management Systems come in, an LMS is an online platform to complete courses, training and other work related learning. Having this key area where a Millennial employee can take control of their learning will give them the company-specific knowledge they need to succeed at work.
HOW DO I HELP BOTH GEN-Z AND MILLENNIALS LEARN AT WORK EFFECTIVELY?
By giving your team the tools for training and professional development, you provide them with a sense of autonomy and the confidence to take charge of their own learning within their position. This helps combat any doubts or feelings of ‘Imposter Syndrome’, a documented phenomenon in the workplace where perfectly qualified individuals feel lacking in their skills and abilities due to low confidence and feelings of unfamiliarity.
Since both have a strong need to work with technology, both inside and outside of the traditional office space, you’ll need a Learning Management System – specifically one that works intuitively, remotely and stays up to date with evolving technology for your younger employees.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered with our product, Virtual Slate: www.virtualslate.com – with everything you need in one place, you can help your younger employees manage their learning and training with ease.
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