Growing Up Digital: Redesigning Workplace Training for ‘Generation Connected’

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ElearningBy 2020, “Generation Connected” or Gen. C, comprised of both millennials and Generation Z, will constitute the largest single group of consumers worldwide. The pervasiveness of Gen. C will also extend to the workforce, with millennials representing 46 percent of the entire U.S. workforce by 2020.

Over the next five years, Gen. C’s need for digital connection, collaboration, and on-the-job flexibility will disrupt the workforce in ways no other generation has before — driving new demand for progressive training and active learning models that more closely align with this generation’s digital-first habits.

In preparation for meeting this generation’s demands in the near future — and effectively competing to recruit and retain top Gen. C talent — where should training leaders start? Moving forward, think about how you can incorporate more mobile technology into your organization’s workstyle. For training leaders, exploring mobile, remote training solutions that power more digital-first training programs is a good place to start.

You won’t be alone in exploring these options. More businesses are starting to realize the value of complementing traditional training methods with digital learning models to appeal to future generations, especially through the use of online learning. Estimates from Global Industry Analysts predict a 13 percent annual increase in the corporate remote training market over the next two years. This growth should come as no surprise as more businesses continue to realize the need for Gen. C to learn in a flexible, individualized way that’s most native to their educational habits, preferences, and needs.

Not only does digital learning help support Gen. C’s behavioral learning style, but well-designed online training programs can also stimulate higher productivity and engagement across multiple generations. To empower both Gen. C and your entire workforce in a digital learning environment, here are three approaches for building a dynamic remote training program.

1. Offer Flexible Work and Learning Options

Starting with the demand for a flexible work structure that allows Gen. C to maintain a healthy work-life balance, flexibility in every aspect of the workplace is key for recruiting and retaining Gen. C employees. Thanks to the convenience and connectivity that mobile device usage provides today’s employees, it’s only natural that Gen. C scoffs at the idea of a traditional nine-to-five work schedule where they’re expected to work productively at their desks all day. Gen. C’s demand for a flexible work environment is almost a “non-negotiable work benefit,” which makes it imperative for organizations to power on-the-go, mobile work solutions that allow employees to work productively anytime, anywhere.

Naturally, Gen. C’s desire to work flexibly also extends to how they like to learn, presenting training leaders with an opportunity to create online flex-classes that give employees “flex-attendance“ options to join classes “in-person” or “online” throughout the duration of a training program. While flex-classes widely appeal to Gen. C, it’s also important to complement virtual training with traditional training methods that appeal across all generations in the workplace, like face-to-face interaction and peer-to-peer mentorship, both of which can be achieved through live video conferencing.

2. Give Employees Their Choice of Technology

In offering flexible online training options to Gen. C, employers should let employees use the technology they know and love to power remote training. Seventy-eight percent of Gen. C’s millennial cohort report that access to the technology they love and trust makes them more effective at work. Giving Gen. C a say in the devices they use to power remote training makes it easier to keep them more engaged and productive because they’re using technology that’s most conducive to fueling their daily digital activity.

Furthermore, personal device use throughout remote training programs is essential for fostering communication, collaboration, and employees’ masteries of concepts, especially when using a second screen to support training concepts.

In addition to encouraging employees to use preferred technology to power on-the-go learning, business leaders should consider leveraging similar platforms that Gen. C uses for personal entertainment to power training programs, especially live video. Dubbed as the “YouTube Generation,” millennials and Gen. Z-ers excessively consume online video, with 66 percent of them spending the same amount of time — or more — watching online videos as they do watching TV. Video is an essential digital training medium that should be used to reach this generation. Some businesses are already getting ahead in meeting Gen. C’s need for video to drive both training and remote work strategies.

Polycom and Redshift Research survey shows that video conferencing has become a business communication standard, with 76 percent of respondents claiming they currently use video solutions at work. However, while organizations are using more effective mediums of training, like live video, there is a huge disconnect when it comes to offering employees mobile training solutions. Currently, only 18 percent of corporate training is accessible on mobile devices, which is a huge missed opportunity for training leaders to effectively reach and engage the mobile-first Gen. C in a way that’s most native to their digital learning habits.

With the traditional work schedule evolving for many organizations, employers must provide a way to keep employees connected to the company while teaching and keeping them up to speed on required skills, no matter where or when they are working. Allowing personal device use and providing access to video-powered technology are proving helpful in creating more engaging online learning environments.

3. Let Workers Experiment and Learn From Each Other

Providing and encouraging the use of accessible and convenient technology during online training programs is just one part of creating a successful remote training program. It’s also equally important to give employees the time needed to practice what they’ve learned, as they learn it with mentors and peers.

To support Gen. C’s need for peer-to-peer collaboration and its desire to “learn by discovery rather than being told,” take a page from educators and “flip the classroom.” Flipped training is a model that allows employees to review training lessons on their own time through a remote training platform and use scheduled in-person training time to apply what they’ve learned and work with peers.

By giving employees the opportunity to learn training material on their own time, businesses can use face-to-face training time for simulations or Q&A sessions, instead of one-way lectures where employees take notes but don’t get to practice skills. Collaborating, demonstrating, and practicing concepts learned in remote training environments with coworkers during in-person training time exposes employees to a mix of digital and hands-on learning that they traditionally wouldn’t get.

Releasing learning from the constraints of traditional training methods — in-person sessions organized by subject matter — will allow Gen. C employees to easily access digital resources and learn at their own pace, when and where they want. As businesses evolve their workplace training models to cater to their employees, it’s important to keep generational concerns top of mind.

How are you redesigning the workplace to better meet Gen. C’s needs? The time to start is now.

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Rony Zarom is CEO and founder of newrow_, an interactive video platform purpose-built for large groups to interact face-to-face online from anywhere, on any device. The company's advanced collaboration and multi-streaming technology is trusted by the world's top online classrooms, corporate training programs, brands, and governments.

A serial entrepreneur, Zarom also successfully built and sold a telecommunication company that helped bring Internet service to Israel. In addition, he founded Decima Ventures, a venture capital company that invests in U.S. tech companies with an R&D center in Israel, and founded Unistream, a successful non-profit junior MBA program in Israel.