Dealing with baby boomers and millennials in the same room (or on the same web conference) can be difficult. From virtual cat filters to not wearing pants on national television, each group represented in the workforce has its quirks.
With such a wide range of values, knowledge, and experience, it can be challenging to support a multigenerational workforce as a Learning and Development (L&D) professional. Thus, looking for innovative solutions is becoming a job requirement.
With five generations in the workforce, you may have already seen a shift in your audience’s needs and wants regarding training. To be clear, these changes are not bad; they are just different. In a multigenerational workplace, priorities vary, and experience levels across the generational spectrum will also differ.
To create a more inclusive environment for a diverse generational workforce, you must be prepared to consider the potential challenges as opportunities. Spend time reviewing your training design, delivery plan, and evaluation process through the eyes of a different generation.
Taking a step back will help your department satisfy every learner’s needs and significantly impact performance. Let’s take a quick look at what designing, delivering, and evaluating training really means when it comes to supporting multigenerational workers.
In the past, before individual laptops and wifi, training events were limited to face-to-face engagements. These events lasted hours, sometimes even days. Outside of workshops and seminars, supervisors conducted on-the-job training, and employees spent time outside of work doing professional development.
While many of those approaches to training are still happening, the definition of an effective training program has changed. Today, there are new training methods and philosophies that extend well beyond workshops and on-the-job training.
In addition to traditional training resources, employees can access an endless amount of professional development information online. With endless knowledge at their fingertips, 24/7, millennials and younger generations expect companies to play a significant role in their ongoing development.
The expanding scope of needs within organizations is forcing training departments to do more. Designing learning experiences outside of a classroom setting and creating programs designed to provide ongoing development is no short order.
Online learning is more popular than ever and provides educational content on-demand for learners no matter the location. Mentoring programs spread the responsibility of professional development to more people and create a more inclusive culture as well.
The reality is that these recent trends are not going away. They are forcing learning professionals to reframe challenges to better support an increasingly multigenerational workforce.
A recent article published on Rider University’s blog explores communication between generations and highlights it as a catalyst to miscommunication. In addition to bridging the communication gap between various age groups in a multigenerational workforce, technology can also be a source of frustration for instructional designers and developers.
When it comes to training delivery, adapting to technology can be challenging for older generations.
Looking through the lens of challenges as opportunities, you might already anticipate a steep learning curve for baby boomers adapting to new technology. Working with a younger peer fluent in technology could shorten the learning curve.
It could also serve as a bridge to close the generational gap. Putting millennials and baby boomers together while introducing new technology is one way to shorten the learning curve.
Training Coordinators can also create small, diverse cohorts of employees with varying technology experience. Being more intentional when creating groups will help the less savvy employees adapt quicker and improve communication in a multigenerational workforce.
The opportunity in this potential challenge is the ability to build trust and relationships through social learning experiences. When different groups communicate with one another, over time, they will be more comfortable learning together.
To evaluate all of the training you’ve been asked to do as a learning professional, your organization will need to invest more resources in the learning function. It also does not make things any simpler when you realize conducting proper evaluations takes a considerable amount of time.
However, training evaluation is a key piece to effectively delivering training in a multigenerational workplace.
Evaluation is the cornerstone of continuous improvement. Although it might feel unmanageable with all of the other things pulling at your attention, it should not be overlooked. It requires significant effort and time when done correctly but often yields significant learning and opportunities for improvement.
Connecting the dots between training and performance can be a complicated task. Becoming familiar with tools designed to help make evaluation more efficient can lighten your load as an L&D practitioner. This challenge allows you to experiment with new technology. Analyzing data to evaluate and improve training can be an exciting process.
Like all projects, when you have the right tools for the job, it usually makes the work a little easier.
When it comes to supporting a multigenerational workforce, there are many things to consider, from communication preferences to the need for reskilling employees returning to the workforce.
These challenges aren’t going away, and as L&D practitioners, we have a choice. We can see these challenges as opportunities to innovate, or we can run from them.
Shifting your perspective and viewing these challenges as opportunities will help you:
- Increase the capacity of your L&D team
- Shorten the technology learning curve
- Improve intergenerational communication
- Identify tools to help with training evaluation
By looking at how you design, deliver and evaluate training, you can continue supporting your organization’s multigenerational employees. It requires a shift in perspective. Seeing challenges as opportunities is required to embrace the future fully.
Are you having trouble seeing challenges as opportunities? What areas are you struggling to support multigenerational employees and teams? Let us know! We would love to hear your thoughts.