There’s a mindset that’s already in the workplace, thanks to us who are, well, older than the Millennials on our teams. We tend to separate work from play, training from entertainment, and tools from toys. Again, our Millennials are far more likely to integrate these seemingly disparate worlds. One of the reasons why eLearning is so vital to personal and professional growth is the blurring of the lines between work and play. It’s a lesson that all of us can learn. Perhaps one of the safest bits of advice for us non-Millennials is this: we gotta learn to lighten up.
Up until this generation of incoming workers, professional and personal growth was something you mostly pursued on your own. From time to time, you might be offered a chance to develop yourself professionally through work-related courses.
Millennials look for that kind of growth in many aspects of their lives. Better said, Millennials’ lives are far less compartmentalized and much more integrated than those of their older colleagues and counterparts. And so their need for professional and personal growth overarches their lives in general.
But what does that mean in terms of training and eLearning?
Once upon a time, we trained at work to do our jobs. Then we went home and took on our roles as parents, spouses, roommates, etc. We left personal stuff at home and work stuff at work. At least we liked to think we did, and we kept up that pretense even when we talked about life around the water cooler or the coffee pot. And then we continued that pretense around the dinner table.
Fast forward to present day, and now we have Millennials in our midst. Millennials blur the lines between work and home life. Along with the task-oriented training specifically targeted at their jobs, Millennials also look for training that is meaningful to them outside of work. Rather than learning the “how” of a job, Millennials also look at the “why” of what they take on.
Training that is task-centered is not the best way to engage a Millennial. To empower Millennials to perform their best, utilize training methods that allow for exploration and discovery. Challenge them. Like most people, Millennials are not at their best when information is “downloaded” into their brains. But people tend to step up their game when they’re allowed to explore and discover solutions for themselves. We’re talking almost all people. Not just Millennials.
At the very least, the self-directed and social aspects of eLearning provide a platform for personal growth. Personal creativity surfaces. And social interactions and sharing, benefits the community. This in turn can also contribute to growth and expansion at an organizational level.
At a more mechanical level, eLearning’s flexibility means that the individual can train to be proficient in different areas of the same organization quickly and effectively. Professional development is now possible on a scale previously unrealized. Individuals can learn new skills and skill sets, and cross train far more easily. This is important to the Millennial, who wants to be involved in many aspects of an organization. This kind of cross training is a match for the desire for professional growth expressed by many Millennials. Cross training, or even training on widely-ranging and differing skill sets, creates a relationship between the organizational leadership and the Millennial employee. Happy workers contribute more readily to the well-being of an organization. Win-win!
Community and social interaction also contribute to personal and professional growth for the Millennial. eLearning is a platform for communication. It allows for discovery. It’s customizable from organization to organization, and from community to community. The entertainment and play of the internet is a vital part of learning for the Millennial generation. Millennials are likely to ask their smartphones about a topic of interest. And then they’ll share that information on some form of social media. They’ll do the same thing with their eLearning and training.