eLearning for Generations

elearning for GenearationsSo no, not an ancient technology, what I mean by that title is, eLearning should be tailored to meet the specific needs of the generational span that now live in our work places.  Why?  Well they are now spanning 3 distinct groups or generations; Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y, all with differing thoughts, views, aspirations and goals. Each with skills associated with their life journey, experience and exposure to the technology delivered in their life span and work place to date.

There are some clear facts to consider, firstly Millennials or Gen Y (since 1985) are now entering their 30’s and over the next 5 years or so will become the majority in your business, certainly 50%, and by 2025 that could be as high as 75% of your entire workforce.  That means some key changes are happening now, and they will accelerate over the near to medium term.  So planning and actions are needed.

Millennials are a well-educated group and grew-up immersed in technology from their first steps in life.  It’s only Baby Boomers that can recall that day when computers were first carried into their workplaces, and you’ll have to find a Baby Boomer to ask if you really care what a green screen was.

Baby Boomers are now entering into the last few years of their workforce participation and contribution, and will be soon retiring, but not just yet. That means attention needs to be paid now to how they continue learn, what helps them to learn and why you should care. Remembering what the tangible value is they can still bring to your business, and most importantly for your business, to ensure that all their tacit knowledge doesn’t leave on the day they retire.

For Millennials there’s no view other than that a technology rich world.  It’s what they do, understand and grew-up with, so no thought is given to its use, other than the total distain and astonishment at old clunky technology and software, which they are now refusing to use.

So on the workforce scale we have Baby Boomers at one end and Millennials at the other, I’m not ignoring Gen X in the middle, but research on their views, outlook and reactions they sit largely in the mid area of all the measurement scales, so I’ll focus on the two extremes.

There are from current research some clear workforce continuity and job retention differences emerging that should be cause for concern.  These should trigger new ideas on eLearning and on training delivery.  The current research shows that in the main, Millennials will commit to a period of time associated with an employer close to half that of Baby Boomers.  Baby Boomers show normal terms of employment close to 7 years +/-.  So with only 3.5 years or so for our Millennials, and somewhere between for Gen X, we need to address the pace and speed with which we can train and get a value return from their education and skills for our businesses.

Further research suggest that Millennials are far more self-aware (self-centric if you will) but will not endure in a role that has lost its appeal.  That is not a negative comment, as that same research tells us that they will leave a position early if they no longer believe they are able to give their best, or if they believe their own performance has passed its peak.

Millennials are far more strategic than their predecessors, changing jobs, roles and careers strategically, often averaging less than 2 years in the role. Only staying that long if they are acquiring skills and getting the training that meets both their personal and career goals.  They are less motivated by money alone, and money will not retain them long term.  So although money and promotion are important keys, they alone won’t keep them in the role.  As a generation then, there is some clarity that Millennials require personalised and individualised attention from career planning to job support and management, with money, education and training playing some very critical roles for them.

Conversely Baby Boomers seem prepared to extend their period of tenure (with less focus on money), with good training that shows on-going ‘valuing of them’ both as people in the business, and as valued knowledgeable contributors to the business, ones who care that they are leaving some tacit knowledge behind them for future use. They still suffer with old fashioned loyalty. So the key for them maybe, is to have them both as training contributors and as training participants.  Baby Boomers may know less about the technology, but much more about ‘why we do this’ in the first place.

So clearly a broad range of generational views exist across the business now in the current generational mix, which will continue in the medium term, and evolve as a challenge in the future as the generational mix rapidly changes.

eLearning then is potentially a powerful tool in the business, perhaps much more in the immediate future that is has been up-to-now.  As discussed in my last article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/corporate-ld-being-replaced-elearning-john-driscoll?trk=mp-author-card on Blended eLearning or the Flipped classroom, eLearning itself could become the most powerful of tools in your business to retain skills, develop rapid skills uptake and develop business knowledge in new hires to add the maximum value possible. Creating the highly resourceful trained people in the shortest possible time (for the employment tenure you will have to play with), to achieve your business results.



John Driscoll Director eLearningforce ANZ 18/4/2016


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