Take a quick look around your office. Peer into the next cubicle, or walk into the cafeteria: You will realise that the demographics of your workplace have changed. Chances are you work with a millennial or are one yourself. Those born between 1980 and 2000 make up the single largest generation group in the world currently and are all set to dominate the workforce. By 2025, millennials will constitute 75% of the entire workforce and number over 50 million in the US alone.
This change has many implications. Employees today think about their careers differently and have a new set of expectations from organisations that hire them.
The importance of certificates, badges, and credits
For starters, millennials are much more achievement-focused than others. They are willing to work hard to earn certifications and are open to investing in themselves in tangible ways. A survey conducted by Manpower in 2016 found that 93% of millennials are open to spending their own money on further training. Not surprisingly then, we are currently witnessing an uptake of online and offline workshops, skilling programs, webinars, eLearning courses, and mentor-led initiatives.
Millennials think in terms of a career not ‘a job’
Millennials no longer take up a job ‘for life’. Unlike the generations that came before them, millennials change jobs much more frequently. Some stats show that 6 in 10 of them move jobs in less than three years. This pushes up the cost of attrition for corporates. If organisations wish to retain talent, they need to think innovatively and provide frequent training opportunities, so their employees can learn continuously and advance their careers, while remaining within the system.
The need for lifelong learning
Young people today are very aware of the need for continuous, self-directed, just-in-time learning. According to a Pew survey, 61% of Americans under 30 years of age think that it is essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives. This is also due to the fact that, as a group, millennials tend to advance up the corporate ladder at a much faster pace than others before them. They are given more responsibilities and find themselves in leadership positions. They also have to frequently multitask. Startups, for instance, rarely afford employees the luxury of just performing one, well-defined role.
The Netflix effect on the way people learn
All of this influences employees to change the manner in which they approach learning in the workplace. Having grown up on a diet of streamed content, they expect knowledge also to be beamed to them via a variety of devices, wherever they are. They also want courses to be delivered to them on-demand and just-in-time. For example, a project manager handed a new project that requires her to interface with Chinese clients may decide to enroll in a course on Cross Cultural Communication. A digital marketer may take up a course on Data Visualization while devising an online campaign.
Companies, therefore, need to look at their employees not as ‘students’ but as stakeholders or ‘consumers’ in this era. And eLearning courses offered by an employer need to be packaged accordingly. Because only content which is well-designed, agile, responsive and engaging will truly appeal to this audience.