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Aug 13, 2014

Here are four (4) qualifications to consider when creating training programs for the workforce of tomorrow.

You may have heard of them; they’re called Millennials. I’m one of them and chances are, you might be, too. There are 80 million of us taking over close to half (46 percent) of the corporate jobs in America by 2020.

With that in mind, here is what we look for in corporate training:

1. We want it now (or at least on our schedule)

Being a Millennial, I find it difficult to imagine taking training on someone else’s schedule.

I’ve grown up with Google since middle school. Just last night, I was curious about how to install beadboard in our new home. So, I immediately took out my phone, Googled “install beadboard,” found about five different tutorials from very qualified sources, and learned how to install beadboard.


I didn’t have to register for a class a month out. I didn’t have to take time to build a relationship with a skilled craftsman for years until he trusted me to share his trade secrets. I learned it at 8 pm on a Thursday night in Cicero, Indiana — in about 15 minutes.

I want that same level of immediacy in my workplace education as well. If I can’t have quite that level of immediacy, I at least want to be able to learn on my schedule.

The solution is to have training materials available to learners as they want to consume them. Simply build your materials and share them with your employees, trusting them to complete the assignment on their schedule.

If you do have a deadline in mind, simply communicate that with your learner. Remember, Millennials would rather have guidelines than hard rules.

This is much better than gathering 20 people in a room at an inopportune time to train them IMO.

2. We want it short

Being used to more media generated every minute than you could watch in four days on YouTube alone, Millennials are experts at sorting through the chaff and getting to the wheat of what they’re looking for. They know that there is a lot of work that goes into traditional corporate presentations to fill time and cover every aspect of a situation that is being discussed.

The problem is that sometimes a new employee is required to understand all of the ins and outs of their situation for either legal or safety reasons. If the format of a training session is not in line with a Millennial’s attention span, it may go in one ear and out the other, resulting in potentially higher risk.

123RF Stock Photo
123RF Stock Photo

What we find is that by creating short, bite-sized snippets of onboarding material or ongoing training, people can be more attentive and retain more.

Think of it like flipping through channels on TV. Whenever a boring commercial comes on, you can just flip to the next channel you’re interested in. In the same way, chopping your training material into lots of small pieces allows for a more manageable feel to essential content.

For those more boring pieces that are still required, make sure your Millennials are understanding the information by providing a quiz about it. Track the results on an individual basis in order to provide individual feedback.

3. We want to have fun

Who doesn’t want to have fun? Whether you’re training Millennials or Boomers, everyone likes when you can break up the monotony of corporate training materials to be at least slightly humorous.

Example: To overcome the snoozefest that can ensue faster than a food coma from your neighborhood buffet, we like to include animated gifs in all of our lessons.

They’ve been around for a long time, but animated gifs are absolutely booming right now. We use the ever-popular gif search engine called Giphy to find most of our gifs.

For example, if you’re telling your team about something serious that they shouldn’t do. Break the ice by dropping this gif on them

They won’t see it coming, it will spike their attention and help them focus more as they expect more surprises.

4. We want it to work

Millennials want training to work on every device, as well as it does on any traditional personal computer. When I took some corporate training last year on my iPad, it broke and I became even more resentful of the required training that I now had to open in Internet Explorer.

Millennials probably own a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone. They will use each type of device at different times and in different places. According to Google’s research, “90 percent of multiple device owners switch between screens to complete tasks, using an average of three different combinations every day.”

Be sure to provide a seamless mobile experience for your learners. Due to current responsive design methodologies, no matter what size of screen you’re using, your training content should automatically adapt.

Further, make sure your training material is hosted in the cloud, not on individual machines, so content is always up to date and requires absolutely zero installation procedures to get learning. Your employees should be able to simply click on a link and be off to the races!

Most important: Be prepared

This is not just theory: ask any of your Millennial-aged employees and I’m convinced they’ll agree with each of these four desires.

If you don’t have Millennials under your employ currently, you probably will soon. Be prepared by understanding these expectations, and meeting them if you wish to engage your employees from Day 1.

You can find more articles like this on the Lessonly blog