Engage workforce thru learning

Seven Tips to Engage Your Multi-Generational Workforce Through Learning

The human capital management landscape of today is at the crux of a historical change in the way businesses are run.

Four generations are currently co-existing in the workplace and employee engagement has never been a more serious business.

HR managers in America today need to understand how to incorporate learning and development in the workplace for each of these unique demographics:

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  1. The Traditionalists/Veterans (1922 – 1943)
  2. The Baby Boomers (1944 – 1960)
  3. Generation X (1961 – 1980)
  4. Millennials/Generation Y (1981 – 2000)
  5. Generation Z (born after 2000)

Backed by advances in tech, employees from these different generations are redefining the parallels between working and learning.

For most organizations, these parallels can be mitigated through the use of an effective learning management system (LMS).

How Learning and Development (L&D) Affect the Workforce

Key findings from the Find Courses’ 2018 Report revealed that:

  • Top performing companies were five times more inclined to use L&D programs.
  • 42% of L&D professionals, who were highly engaged in learning, were just as highly engaged at their organization overall.

More interesting statistics reveal that by 2020, millennials will no longer be just another buzzword. They will comprise 50% of the U.S workforce.

Gallup reports that 87% of millennials increasingly value personal development in the workplace.

This knowledge brings focus to two human capital management trends:

Firstly, employees now want their workplaces to become hubs of personal development.

Secondly, employees aren’t learning to gain skills for a career; the career itself is a journey and an extension of their learning.

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Effectively Engaging a Multi-generational Workforce

Before beginning a new training or learning cycle, the HR manager should ensure that a corporate culture of continuous learning is in place, as the benefits include:

There are many keys to breaking inter-generational barriers such as:

  • Steering open, positive, and regular communication within departments and teams.
  • Aligning employee goals with the business goals.
  • Reserving adequate time for knowledge transfer.
  • Allowing feedback and addressing rising challenges promptly.
  • Creating a culture based on professional trust and respect.

Each generation has a different thought process and belief system governing their social and professional outlook in and away from the workplace.

Trying to put them all into one box could prove detrimental to an HR manager.

However, a multi-generational workforce has certain human resource perks:

  • Multi-faceted levels of experience
  • Unique soft and hard skills
  • A varied range of expertise

To bring out each of these benefits, employers need to understand that these employees are bound to look at learning from entirely different viewpoints, formats, and channels.

The HR manager must develop a deep and empathetic understanding of the entire workforce, sifting through potential social barriers such as preconceived cultural notions, ageism, or unconscious bias.

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How to Engage Your Multi-Generational Workforce Using Learning and Development

1. Develop a Mentorship Culture

Every employee’s skill set fits into a specific niche related to their generational cohort.

To best leverage this, the HR manager needs to hone in on these niches to foster a culture of generation-to-generation mentorship.

Gallup’s 2015 poll reports that only one-third of baby boomers in the United States are still active in the workplace by age 68, including those working full time.

These numbers are naturally dwindling as the years progress.

This puts pressure on HR managers to ensure that years of knowledge and wisdom gained about the organization are passed down to the incoming and younger employees.

In creating a vibrant mentorship culture, where seasoned employees can collaboratively teach and learn from younger hires, the HR manager must reinforce successful succession planning in their respective companies.

2. Establish Collaborative Learning

Research indicates that the key to fostering a company culture of joint learning is by using collaborative learning methods.

This overdue shift in workplace practice means different generations can begin to view each other as teammates, fostering ideas and partnerships that positively affect any businesses’ bottom line.

Leading organizations have taken up the call, and the trend of learning programs that unite a multi-generational workforce is on the rise.

3. Leverage Technology

The training experience for adult learners can now be made more enjoyable, thanks to innovation.

Backed by the digital age, smartphones, gadgets, and devices have become intrinsic parts of everyone’s personal and professional lives.

A company’s L&D strategy, therefore, needs to mirror the same tech-savvy environment today’s employees use.

There are limitless options that can make learning and development experiences both interesting and engaging, including:

  • E-learning
  • Social media
  • Virtual reality
  • Gamification

4. Make the Learning Experience Personal

As technology evolves, most training, learning, and development programs will rely heavily on the best possible learning management systems (LMS).

The right LMS should ideally have the capacity to be both information gathering and disseminating, in addition to being:

  • Easily accessible
  • User-friendly
  • Time and cost-effective

With the right data, the training manager can personalize the content to each employee. The material should match the employees’:

  • Past personal activities
  • Their employment role
  • Their tenure
  • Required skills
  • Learning preferences

LMSs allow for tracking, which is an often-overlooked tool used to maximize productivity among learners.

Aside from increasing engagement, an LMS can be optimized to provide varying access levels to all involved parties.

By giving the learners flexibility and freedom over their tasks and lessons, the system extends autonomy over each individual’s learning.

Although an LMS increases transparency among trainers and learners, they are also equipped to gather data in a non-invasive way.

High-level management can receive regular updates without interfering with the employees’ access to contact or support.

Even more important, an LMS makes it possible to identify strengths and weaknesses faster than traditional learning methods.

Using a personalized LMS, a training manager can design and recommend learning materials suited to their unique content usage history. The outcome would be:

  • Increased engagement
  • Improved information retention

5. Consider Different Tech Usage Levels

The current climate considers younger generations, Gen Z and Millennials, as digital natives, the children raised in the era of the world wide web.

This has had a massive impact on how this particular demographic learn in professional spaces.

Regardless, Boomers and Veterans have not been entirely left behind.

This study shows that 33% of baby boomers currently use cloud-based tools in their work.

Two other key learnings from this study are that:

  • Younger employees are open to quicker implementation of new tech in the workplace.
  • Older employees want user-friendly technology.

By embracing these findings, the HR manager can address each of these generations’ learning needs using manageable content that increases over time (microlearning).

6. Allow for Flexible Communication.

One of the greatest challenges to learning is ineffective communication. There can’t be a one-size-fits-all communication approach for such different demographics.

The first step for a training or HR manager is to study and adapt to the communication methods preferred by each group.

By allowing flexible communication, the HR manager spearheads a shift from generational barriers.

7. Offer Incentives to Multigenerational Learners

An important component of adult learning is incentive.

An effective way to incentivize continued learning is by rewarding excellent performers. This also encourages career progression.

Simple acts of public recognition among peers reinforce employee loyalty and engagement.

When employees feel valued by their organizations, they become invested in their success.

L&D programs are a suitable model for encouraging both growth and recognition in the workplace.

Multigenerational learning fosters a high level of employee engagement in an organization. As employees from different generations learn the value of collaboration, they continue growing and learning from one another.

Book a demo with World Manager to discover how to implement an effective learning and development program for your multi-generational workforce.

Or get started with these 32 employee engagement posters!

Disclaimer: This information is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor World Manager will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this information.

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