Learning and Development Across Generations

As training providers, it’s important for us to ensure that we are accommodating all generations in our programmes. As a business, you will have a mix of employees that will likely fall under either the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials or Generation Z. Different generations bring different expectations and life experiences to the workplace. The role of generational experience affects what expectations there are when companies look to recruit, hire, onboard and manage new employees.

As Learning and Development (L&D) facilitators, we need to be intentional about curating our content and delivery in a way that it can be effective and impactful across all generations.

Let’s have a closer look at each of these generations and how they tend to operate: 

A Summary of the Generations

With five generations working together in today’s workplace, it’s more important for companies to understand the generational differences that set them apart.

  • Baby Boomers (1956 and 1964) crave position, praise and perks. They are focused on prosperity and are concerned about status. 
  • Generation X babies (1965 and 1979) highly value entrepreneurship, often dislike hierarchy and are more likely to be loyal to people than companies. This generation has a strong focus on efficiency and is more open to embracing technology.
  • Millennials (1981 and 1995) place great importance on achieving goals through their jobs and enjoy a team dynamic. This is a tech-savvy generation who crave socialising and value open communication with colleagues. 
  • Generation Z (1995 and 2009) are known as the “digital natives”, having grown up with technology at their fingertips. This is an independent, competitive group of multi-taskers. They do, however, often struggle to interact with peers and superiors, and have a natural tendency for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

As you look toward understanding the generational differences in the workforce you’ll want to understand the demographics of the labour pool and how those generations view the future, the work they do today and how they understand their colleagues. More than ever, employees want a sense of ‘purpose’ and ‘value’ at work. When organisations get employee experience right, and prioritise the relationship with engagement and performance, they can achieve twice the customer satisfaction and innovation. 

How to Deliver Training Across Generations

Managers are faced with the difficult task of keeping their employees motivated and engaged. This is no easy task, especially when you consider that up to five generations may be working side by side in one workplace. In order for businesses to confidently cater to all generations of their market, they need to ensure they accommodate employees of all generations. This starts with L&D. 

The goal of any business should be to promote continuous learning. In order for this to happen, it would mean that your training shouldn’t stop when the facilitator leaves your site. A culture of continuous learning requires work from managers, leaders, as well as executives within the organisation. 

Learn from one another 

Encourage knowledge-sharing by setting up mentorship programs within your organisation.

I believe that learning across generations, must include learning between generations. In other words, employees from all generations need to make themselves teachable in order to receive value from those of different walks of life. Older generations have the experience and knowledge that time has given them, from which Gen Z’s for example, can find great insight. On the other hand, a Gen Z will be able to impart a perspective that is relevant to the current market, that an executive might not have been aware of.

Here’s an example… Nokia wasn’t anticipating the change of generation and their demands. As a result, they became stagnant while their competitors grew. This concluded with the economy throwing them out. If Nokia had a team of people from diverse backgrounds and generations, it would have been highly unlikely for them to have missed the very evident evolution of technology.

Summit places high importance on coming down to each others’ levels in order to gain from one another. I, for example, on the last Friday of every month, meet up with a fellow Summit colleague to discuss our experiences and to share and receive insight from one another. Although my colleague was born in the generation before me, we are able to both gain value from these meetings. Summit has employees from across multiple generations, and we aim to all mentor one another in the areas where we can offer insight. Embracing all generations results in gaining value from all generations. 

Deliver content with diversity in mind

It seems like an impossible task to cater to learners from significantly different generations and backgrounds, doesn’t it? It is no secret that the newer generations are more accustomed to technology than the Baby Boomers for instance, who didn’t grow up around technology and online platforms. Where Millenials prefer a more convenient approach to learning that allows them to learn digitally and on the go, those who aren’t as tech-savvy might prefer face-to-face, personalised training. 

Our blended learning structure offers a customisable mix of both virtual and face-to-face training. Every learner is unique and has different needs. We want our content to be delivered as effectively as possible, so we ensure that all learners are comfortable with the technology we provide them with. Where there is a need, we will step in to teach learners about our online training platforms and how to use them to their best advantage. We aim to bridge the gap between generations so that we can all equally benefit from training. 

Contact Summit today and learn about our bespoke training programmes that can accommodate all your employees. We want to help you build up a team of dynamic and driven team members who will achieve your business goals!