Sunday, July 01, 2012

Learning and Millenials

This week I have been conducting some research interviews for a report we are doing with Elearning Age. One of the areas that I have been exploring is the nature of the workforce and the implications for learning design and delivery. 

From the initial interviews it already seems that employers are having to manage a wider range of employee generations. At one end there is a focus on recruiting bright young employees through new apprenticeship schemes. At the other end people are working longer, this reflects aging populations and the removal of barriers to older people working.

It prompted me to have a look at the PwC survey conducted in late 2011 on the millenial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000). They surveyed 4,364 graduates across 75 countries about their work expectations.

They found that for the millenial generation:
"Development and work/life balance are more important than financial reward: This generation are committed to their personal learning and development and this remains the most essential benefit they want from employers. In second place they want flexible working hours. Cash bonuses come in at a surprising third place."

See the full Pwc Survey.

Further research by Kenan-Flagler Business School also found that 65% of millenials said the opportunity for personal development was the most influential factor in choosing their current job and 22% saw training and development as the most valued benefit from an employer.

In the PwC survey 71% of millenials expect and want to do an overseas assignment in their career to support their development. Though top of the wish list for overseas assignments were the US, UK and Australia. 

Not surprisingly in the PwC survey 41% of millenials said they prefer to communicate electronically, they routinely make use of their own technology at work and three quarters believe that access to technology makes them more effective. Almost half felt that managers did not understand the way they use technology at work. The Kenan-Flagler report says that millenials switch their attention between platforms such as laptops, phone and televisions 27 times an hour on average. Which seems an awful lot to me, and whilst there are benefits in multi-tasking I am not so sure about the benefits for learning.

In my interviews so far I have begun to see  how learning design is being affected by millenials in the workforce such as shorter modules, less linear content, more game style approaches, more consumer style interfaces and a move away from more corporately branded content to more engaging, creative and fun content. Designing for a changing workforce is an area I hope to explore further as the research progresses.