Workplace Culture

Creating a ‘Generation Connected’ Workplace

By Rony Zarom

May. 1, 2015

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock.

The U.S. workforce is preparing for a significant generational shift. In the next five years, a new generation of employees — composed of both millennial and Generation Z workers — will represent 46 percent of the entire workforce, and an overwhelming majority of 76 percent by 2025.

More collectively referred to as “Generation Connected” based on their affinity for digital connectivity, this generation’s preference for collaborative, digital-first, flexible work environments will also cause a shift in workplace training based on their desire for active learning that supports their mobile habits. To design and activate progressive learning programs that attract, recruit and retain this hyperdigital generation, here are four essential components training leaders should include.

Think Digitally

Whether rolling out a new training program altogether or revamping current ones, think about how to incorporate more mobile options.Many organizations are realizing the importance of complementing traditional training methods with digital learning models to appeal to Gen C, especially through the use of online learning.

Digital learning not only helps support Gen C’s behavioral learning style, but well-designed online training programs can stimulate higher productivity and engagement across multiple generations. To empower both Gen C employees as well as an entire workforce in a digital learning environment, take a look at your organization’s work style and identify ways to build a dynamic remote training program. Exploring mobile, remote training solutions that power more digital-first learning is a good place to start.

Make Work and Learning Flexible

The key to recruiting and retaining Gen C talent is promoting a healthy work-life balance. Given Gen’s C digital and mobile preferences, a flexible work structure that allows them to maintain a healthy work-life balance and work from practically anywhere is high on the priority list.

Gen C laughs at the idea of a traditional 9-to-5 work schedule where they’re expected to work at an assigned desk all day because the convenience and connectivity of mobile devices makes anywhere a physical work space. Based on their ability to power up mobile devices to work anywhere, anytime, Gen C’s demand for a flexible work environment is almost a non-negotiable work benefit, making it important for organizations to power on-the-go, mobile work solutions that allow employees to work flexibly.

The desire to work flexibly also extends to how Gen C prefers to learn. Estimates from Global Industry Analysts Inc. predict a 13 percent annual increase in the corporate remote training market over the next two years. As more businesses realize the need for Gen C to learn in a flexible, individualized way that’s most native to their educational habits, preferences and needs, the growth of remote training will surge.

This presents an opportunity to create online flexible classes that give employees “flex-attendance“ options to join classes in-person or online throughout the duration of a training program. While flex-classes appeal to Gen C, it’s also important to complement virtual training with traditional training methods, like face-to-face interaction and peer-to-peer mentorship, both of which can be achieved through video conferencing. (Editor’s note: The author works for a video platform.)

Find the Right Technology for Your Organization

In offeringflexible online training options to Gen C, employers are faced with a decision as to what forms of technology are right for implementing e-training programs for their business. Will you offer employees mobile devices, laptops, tablets or a bring-your-own-device policy that allows them to complete their online training courses?

Determining the right technology to carrying out digital learning will depend on your company’s culture. Every employee has different preferences and providing a variety of digital tools helps alleviate any issues getting online learning programs started. When it comes to Gen C, 78 percent of their millennial cohorts report that access to the technology they love and trust makes them more effective at work.

Dubbed as the YouTube Generation, Gen C members excessively consume online video with 66 percent spending the same amount of time or more watching online videos compared to TV. Video is an essential digital training medium that should be used by training leaders to reach this generation in the workplace.

In fact, some businesses are already getting ahead in meeting Gen C’s demand for video to drive both training and remote work strategies. With 76 percent of respondents claiming they currently use video solutions at work, video conferencing is becoming a business communication standard in the workplace.

Althoughorganizations are using more effective mediums of training, like live video, there is a huge disconnect when it comes to offering employees mobile training solutions with only 18 percent of corporate training accessible on mobile devices. This means there’s an opportunity for businesses to step up their game and effectively reach, engage and collaborate with Gen C employees in a digital way that’s most native to them.

Encourage Employees to Learn From Each Other

Creating a flexible, mobile-friendly training program is just one way Gen C will reshape learning models. It’s also equally important to give Gen C the time needed to practice what they’ve learned, as they learn it with mentors and peers.

This is a highly collaborative generation that prefers to learn by discovery rather than being told and gives way for training models to support Gen C’s need for peer-to-peer communication. Some organizations are turning to a “flipped training” model that allows employees to review training materials on their own time — often through online learning programs — and use the scheduled in-person training sessions as a time to apply what they’ve learned or seek advice from peers.

Updating not only the material in your training programs but redesigning the way employees learn will help keep your business up-to-date with the most effective workplace training models for your younger employees, like Gen C, who will someday be the leaders of the business world.

Recruiting and retaining the future generations of talent is much easier with attractive flexible learning that keep employees engaged and connected anytime, anywhere. By building flexible learning programs using these four tips, business leaders are on their way to providing employees untethered access to learn, collaborate and stay connected in a way they enjoy, which will ultimately boost employee productivity and help your company stay smart and competitive for the future.

Rony Zarom is CEO and founder of newrow, a video platform for large groups to interact online from anywhere and on any device. Comment below or email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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