Many harsh words have been spoken and written about Millennials: they feel entitled, they are easily distracted, they want balance in their work life, they always challenge the status quo. The world will never be the same as it was BM — before Millennials, that is. And the world of work makes no exception. But I honestly think that’s actually a good thing.
Millennials’ expectations from the workplace
There are two things that come to mind when thinking about the disruption Millennials bring along at work: the demand for equilibrium between personal and professional life and the desire to continuously develop professionally.
What’s wrong in wanting these two things? Having a work-life balance and L&D opportunities should be considered common sense and not over the top requirements from the workplace. And I bet that if someone’s sets up a survey and asks all employees about their expectations, these two things will be among the answers, no matter the age of the survey participants. Millennials were just the first to be more vocal about them. They were raised to think they could become anything they wanted, after all. So they became change agents in the workplace.
Since they’re not going anywhere (except, perhaps, when they take the entrepreneurial path, which is just another face of business) and since the generation that follows them (which already started to join the workforce) will not settle for anything less, companies of all shapes and sizes must tune in and respond to younger employees’ needs.
Work-life balance can be achieved through many tactics and strategies. It all boils down to employers recognizing the face that employees have lives outside the workplace and sometimes that must come first. While many words can be spoken and written about work-life balance, this is not the main subject of this post. Let’s focus instead on the learning part, and especially on Millennials’ expectations from workplace training and how too meet these through blended learning.
What Millennials expect from workplace training
Why do Millennials prefer blended learning to any other type of training? First of all, because blended learning exists. Remember how L&D technologies looked like 10, 20 or 30 years ago? Older generations simply didn’t have this option, or the use of tech for workplace learning was rather limited. So it all boil down to having options. Millennials not only like to have things to choose from, they also expect having them.
They like to choose what they learn. No two people know he same things, so why should everyone learn the same things? Millennials are rather good at diagnosing their learning gaps, so they are more interested in bridging those than in the standard courses everyone should attend.
They like to choose when they learn. Working schedules can be full and everyone knows that being physically present in a training room does not equal learning. If one is tired, stressed out, or experiences other negative emotions, learning won’t stick. So when they’re able to choose when to learn, of course people will pick those time slots that are most convenient. What’s more, Millennials like to have the possibility to come back to learning materials and revise them when necessary, at the point of need.
They like to choose how they learn. The theory of learning styles may flicker in front of criticism, but I know for sure I learn better when i read and write than when someone speaks to me. Verba volant, scripta manenet, as the Romans would say. I know I’m not alone in this, and I know there are plenty of people who prefer interaction, movement, video or audio files over text anytime when it comes to learning. As long as learning materials can be created and delivered in different way, why stick to just one?
They like to choose how much they learn. Sitting in a training room for two hours or an entire day , trying to absorb as much information as possible, is not that effective. A lot of that information will be forgotten before long. Human being can’t focus deeply for longer than 20 minutes on average, and if deep focus does not happen, learning does not really happen.
They like to choose what device they use for learning. Desktop computers and laptops are still the most preferred, but mobile devices have their fair share of this as well. Just imagine someone who’s job is on the field carrying a laptop everywhere. Plus, there are situations when a quick check of a piece of information in the company LMS on a mobile phone can save the day.
So these are the main things Millennilas expect from training: to be able to choose what, when, how, how much and which device to use when they learn.
Blended learning: companies’ best response to these expectations
Blended learning. If these two words are not about choice, in training, I don’t know which are. A great blended learning program takes the best of face-to-face, instructor-led training and e-learning, and blends everything to meet learners’ needs — Millennials or not.
It offers options — various courses on different subjects, available online and in the training room, accessible anytime, anywhere, on any device, for how long a learner needs, with face-to-face or online support from a trainer. this pool of choices is why Millennials prefer blended learning to any other type of training.
What else can trainees ask for? Let’s wait a few years for the next generation to voice their workplace and learning expectations, shall we?