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What’s Different About How Younger Workers Learn?

Members of the younger generations, including the Millennials and Gen Z, have largely grown up as digital natives. They relied more on internet resources than encyclopedias during school and are used to having a wealth of information at their fingertips.

Additionally, many of their educational pursuits involved tech tools. In fact, some of your younger workforce may even have entirely online degrees, meaning technology was at the heart of the learning experience. Plus, they increasingly favor mobile devices over traditional computers or laptops, something that may seem unfathomable to older generations.

The increased presence of technology has shifted how people learn, causing younger employees to prefer organizational development approaches that older generations may find uncomfortable. However, if you want these team members to flourish, you need to understand these differences and strive to accommodate them, as forcing younger professionals into an older learning paradigm isn’t going to be as effective.

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If you are wondering what’s different about how younger workers learn, here’s what you need to know.
Altered Attention Spans

Younger employees are accustomed to learning in snippets. The internet and social media provide access to information in small bites, making that approach more familiar.

However, that doesn’t mean your younger workers can’t focus when they learn. What it does indicate is that your delivery mechanism needs to embrace that paradigm, taking broad learning or organizational development objectives and breaking them down into quick modules.

Additionally, simply asking your younger employees to read through pages and pages of information isn’t going to be effective. After all, these are the generations that embraced infographics, YouTube videos, podcasts, and even memes. Adding visual and audio elements to break up larger learning sessions can help them pay attention, switching between formats semi-regularly to provide them with the variety they are used to experiencing on a daily basis.

A Distaste for Memorization

For the generations that were raised during the rise of search engines, the idea of memorization may seem antiquated. With a few clicks, they can just Google the facts they need, so using any mental capacity to maintain a store of trivia seems unnecessary.

While this doesn’t mean they are opposed to memorizing points that are pertinent to their daily existence, expecting them to assign valuable memory to anything else may not yield the ideal result. Memorization isn’t something they’ve spent as much time practicing as older generations, so this approach to organizational development isn’t as efficient for them.

Instead, they prefer to find the facts they need and use them to think strategically about the task at hand. Often, they embrace higher-level thinking, reserving that valuable brain space for contemplation and problem-solving over the storage of details that may not be relevant to them tomorrow.

By embracing approaches that make the most of these preferences, such as the presentation of scenarios that must be worked, you can encourage learning through experimentation and thought, and not just memorization.

Are You Looking for an L&D Program That Meets the Needs of Younger Workers?

The experienced instructional design consultants at Clarity Consultants can work directly with your company to create a perfect solution based on the needs of your younger workers. Contact us to speak with one of our skilled consultants today and see how our customizable services can help you craft the ideal learning and development program for your workforce.