In the next few years, the make-up of the workforce will change forever.
It’s estimated that over 60 million Gen Zers are poised to enter the workforce —and these new employees are driven by some uniquely different motivators than previous generations.
Born after 1996, Generation Z is now the most racially diverse, well-educated and tech savvy group in the U.S.
They are defined by their work, driven by money and success, but appreciate frugality, social equality and innovation. Despite being true digital natives (the first generation to rightfully claim the title), Gen Zers also value face-to-face contact more than they get credit for.
The first Gen Zers graduated college in 2017 and every year, more and more enter the workforce as entry-level employees. For employers who want to make the most of their recruiting efforts, it may be best to adjust your approach when training this generation.
Here are the 5 best practices to consider when designing your Gen Z training strategy:
Gen Z has grown up with full access to the internet, available at their fingertips at all times. This has created a culture of immediacy when it comes to searching for information and consuming content: they expect learning materials to be available to them the moment they need them.
This immediacy however doesn’t imply a passivity. A report from Barnes & Noble shows that Gen Z predominantly learns by doing and prefers active learning environments; they enjoy feeling challenged and like to work through problems.
There are several ways you can utilize these preferences to your advantage when planning to train young employees. Focus on creating immersive learning experiences that incorporate 360-degree videos, AV/VR augmented reality, simulations and game-based learning.
This will offer your Gen Zers familiarity (since they’ve already been using most of these technologies while gaming or on social media) and keep them engaged longer.
Video that tells stories
The average Gen Zer watches 68 videos on a daily basis. Being on social media from a very young age, Gen Z loves connecting with friends and new acquaintances through creating, consuming and sharing video content. The rise of platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok attests to that — as does the fact that YouTube is still the most-visited website within the 18-24 age bracket.
The power of videos when it comes to training is undoubtable. Whether they’re getting training virtually or in the office, your Gen Z workers will likely need some form of visual storytelling in order to best digest complex information.
Learning through videos helps both with information retention and with learner engagement, regardless of the learners’ age. But for Gen Zers in particular, your videos should be short, to the point and humorous (when appropriate). This generation is also entrenched in multimedia and web design and can be put off by less-than-stellar content — so consider professional produced videos if your budget allows for it.
It’s unlikely that you’ll see Gen Zers walking around the office without their smartphone: 98% of them own one. Not only that, but they are used to switching between no less than five devices per day. They love social media videos, and they are more likely to have watched social media videos in the last week than a TV series.
It’s very clear that to appeal to this generation you need to do more than just offer training on the computer. Building a platform that’s designed with a mobile-first UX in mind will go a long way towards effectively engaging your young employees and keeping their attention. Invest in an LMS that offers a native app with user-friendly navigation, simple layout and concise content. That way, Gen Z learners can take their training anywhere — and not be frustrated by slow load times and endless amounts of scrolling.
Engage through cross-training
When it comes to training Gen Z employees, agility is paramount. These new workers have been receiving college training and otherwise preparing for jobs that for the most part don’t exist yet. They’re more interested in learning the “how” and the “why” than the “what.” Offering them training in a variety of skills that extend their capabilities and ensure the bridging of gaps between your teams and your verticals will be invaluable for the continuous growth of your company.
The importance of upskilling/reskilling became apparent due to the pandemic and is poised to shape the L&D departments of the future. Making this an active part of your Gen Z training strategy will place you well ahead of the curve, as you’re essentially training the leaders of tomorrow.
They’re still human
For being the most digitally-savvy generation, Gen Zers still crave human connection. As this Inc. article shows, 72% prefer face-to-face communication in the work environment. Networking is also a big favorite among this generation, as is the need for mentorship and exchange of ideas with more experienced workers. The shift to remote work initially affected these interactions — but ultimately people can still engage with the help of technology.
Social learning, a form of learning you should incorporate into your training strategy regardless of your employees’ age, becomes that much more important when training Gen Zers. Frequent (and informal) social interaction via virtual competitions, roleplaying activities, open chats and design challenges, keeps young employees engaged and thriving. Maintaining open lines of communication within your personnel and allowing people to learn from each other makes for a stronger and more united workforce.
It’s never been more important to train college graduates and entry-level employees.
While training this new generation of workers can be challenging, spending the time and resources to do so will have tremendous payoffs for the entire workforce. Ultimately, it will help you prepare for the workforce of the future – and position your company as an attractive place for top talent.