Training Gen Z: 5 things you should know

Mitch Denton

Make no mistake, Gen Z is remarkably different from the Millennial generation before, so how does that affect training them in a work context?

Gen Z is comprised of individuals born between 1995 and 2010. Their parents are mostly Gen X, and they’re the first generation whose parents were on social media before they were. Due to their “snack media” habits, Gen Z consumes information by switching between multiple platforms and devices. This cross-platform consumption of information is a defining feature of Gen Zers.

Here are a few things you should know about the employee onboarding process with Gen Zers and onboarding new employees with student learning.

1. Gen Z are the least likely to have work experience, but the most likely to have already experienced online education.

According to industry research, beyond the year 2000, the number of teens that manage to secure work within holiday periods has shrunk from around half to about a third. This means that a larger portion of young people are entering the workforce with less job experience than previous generations.

While older generations were more likely to engage with holiday work, they have prioritised other experiences for their children, including academic and athletic programs, volunteer work, and unpaid internships.

All of this has been part of a larger trend toward Gen Z undergoing a lot more teaching and learning, with Gen Z representing the largest number of college graduates of any generation, despite being a smaller cohort than the Millennials or Baby Boomers. And, because of the steady increase in mobile technology and online education, this generation will already have experienced some part of their education online, and be more open to online education options.

2. Gen Z are keenly aware of their lack of job skills and are eager to close the gap.

Their lack of work experience isn’t lost on Gen Z. In fact, it’s something they’re both aware of, and anxious to change. This is particularly true for their computer skills, which are likely to be less-developed than their Millennial predecessors.

As the first generation to grow up with the Internet, Millennials quickly became adept at a range of computer skills, particularly those related to desktop programs and using the Internet. But Gen Z has spent far more time on their mobile phones, which means they are more likely to feel comfortable using mobile app versions of desktop software.

3. Gen Z are used to finding information online and are often looking for quick answers.

If there’s one trait Millennials and Gen Z share, it’s that they both reflexively Google any information they don’t know. Knowing how to make an accurate search query, refine that search to get better results, and then compare answers to find a reliable source are second nature to this demographic, particularly when it comes to learning material and “how-to” knowledge.

However, their need for easy-to-consume information means they are more drawn toward micro-courses with well-crafted video content, real-time text message notifications, quick course tutorials, etc.

4. Gamification is more likely to be a selling point for Gen Z than other generations.

The fact that Gen Zers are mobile natives should give online educators motivation to test their courses in a mobile learning environment, where most users are more inclined to access onboarding programs and employee engagement is more likely.

Gamification elements also appeal to Gen Z (and to most of the rest of us, too). They frame learning in a fun and intuitive way and help motivate learners to keep going with a course while building company culture.

5. Gen Z not only have the need for training and the desire to learn, but they also prefer online education.

With every generation that goes by, learners become more and more accustomed to online education and are more ready to turn to it when they need training and support. For businesses trying to decide whether they should invest in online training, or educators looking for the next demographic to target, understanding what Gen Z needs and how to deliver it are key.

Gen Z wants to learn, and your challenge is to build a course that will engage them and meet their needs.

So, how do we connect with Gen Z learners?

Here are some pointers to create the best possible training for this upcoming generation of workers:

  • Use mixed media and visually stimulating messages Remember Generation Z is a ‘visually-orientated generation’, therefore, the more image-based your courses are, the better.
  • Provide flexibility You will have to make training more flexible for Generation Z and their “as-and-when” approach to learning.
  • Gen Z learners enjoy a higher degree of self–study and autonomy Giving them choice and freedom in their subjects of study, when appropriate, is the key to helping develop motivation and self-confidence.
  • Encourage collaboration and human connections While Gen Z learners may need less training on technology, they may require more in offline interpersonal communication. They are also used to freely expressing their opinions online, so make sure you encourage collaboration between them through forums, group discussions, and Question & Answer sessions.
  • Feed their “snack media” habits You need to create bite-sized learning modules, to keep Gen Zers’ attention.
  • Easy-to-use Gen Zers expect workplace technology to be intuitive, accessible, easy-to-use. For them, out-of-date or difficult to use software equals being left behind and may make them feel frustrated.
  • Go mobile or go home According to Brian Solis in his 25 Disruptive Technology Trends 2015–2016,  “Generation Z is mobile-first and mobile-only”, therefore it becomes critical that your training is available on mobile devices.

Conclusion

As the modern workplace becomes more generationally diverse, the need for adaptive training measures to be put in place for Gen Z employees has become a necessity if companies wish to see a great return from new hires. The best approach towards tackling a lot of the points mentioned earlier is to create a well-planned online learning pathway that can help assist employees in remote learning, providing a source of relevant information, snackable courses, and gamified education.

Getting started with building a short, succinct, and available online course for your business with Archy is free, so why not start today?

Mitch Denton

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