7 minute read

Three Core Training Expectations of Younger Workers

Caleb Shull

Former Copywriter

Training professional in a web meeting.

Younger workers – particularly GenZ workers – bring high and unique expectations to their workplaces, including how they’re trained. The research is clear enough that they value career-advancing L&D offerings very highly. But they in turn expect their companies to invest heavily in them.

Importantly, they’re less willing to tolerate a workplace environment that doesn’t align with their personal goals and preferences. 25-34 year-olds in the US stay with their employers an average of 2.8 years, compared to 9.8 years for workers aged 55-64. GenZ and younger Millennials are more than willing to leave and look for a new job if they don’t feel they’re being valued.

As training professionals, we basically have two choices. We can continue to maintain workplace cultures. We can continue to do things the way they’ve always been done… and continue dealing with the $1 trillion in annual losses businesses suffer due to turnover. After all, GenZ is almost twice as likely as millennials to want to leave their jobs.

Or, since the demographics are simply inevitable, we can start to look at reframing our practices to work with, rather than against, younger workers’ training expectations.

What Young Workers Really Want

Young workers are no longer content to do things the way they’ve always been done. They’re coming into the workforce strongly principled and ready to jump ship for those principles. But rather than try to resist that change, if we sit down and consider what young people expect from their training and their jobs, we can synthesize three core desires that aren’t unreasonable at all. Let’s see

    • Impact. Young workers expect to feel like the training they’re doing is having a real impact on their future and their career advancement.
    • Speed. Young workers value their time very highly and expect L&D offerings to have an impact quickly and efficiently.
    • Flexibility. Young workers feel that different people perform differently under different circumstances, and expect to be able to work and train in the way that’s best for them.

Of these three core asks, being impactful and quick should already be top priorities for any Training team. And while providing workers with increased flexibility represents a significant investment, it will frequently pay off in the long run.

Let’s break down each of these core training expectations and how younger workers want L&D to be provided.

Impactful and Tailored Training

Everyone has sat through a training session that wasn’t really relevant to their work. It’s often unavoidable – there may be regulatory requirements or other concerns that mean employees need to undergo training that might not directly impact their careers or daily tasks.

But where it is avoidable, shouldn’t Training teams work hard to keep training content as tightly focused on workers’ needs as possible?

Young workers are used to consuming content that was designed to work with recommendation algorithms. That content is extremely optimized to identify and cater to their immediate needs and interests. In this case, their interest is very focused on their career advancement, and therefore on the specific tasks and skills they need to develop in order to succeed in their role and in future roles they expect to fill.

How do we, as L&D leaders, respond to that expectation? One answer is to make content more modular. Constructing courses out of smaller building-blocks and tailoring the design of courses to meet individuals’ needs is an effective strategy for enabling that kind of impact.

Delivering modular content does pose a management burden, however. You’ll need training software that can handle a large and complex library of those ‘building blocks’, and which can manage and deliver large amounts of content in different ways to different learners. And you’ll also still need to maintain visibility and reporting so that you can ensure learners are seeing all of the content they need to in order to earn qualifications and certifications.

Fast and Efficient L&D Offerings

In the same way that algorithms have trained younger workers to expect highly relevant content, they’ve also been trained to expect content to be delivered quickly and hassle-free. And why shouldn’t they? Every year for their whole lives, technology has raced forward and streamlined processes that were difficult or highly manual before. They expect things to be done quickly and automatically because that’s what they know.

But often, Training teams struggle to meet that kind of standard. This may have less to do with the actual delivery of the content itself – although as stated, younger workers are more responsive to shorter-form, modular content. Instead, this has more to do with the management of their L&D offering.

Young workers want to be able to act quickly and decisively when it comes to their careers. If they request further training, they don’t want to get fed into the top of a bureaucratic machine that might eventually get them enrolled into some courses. They expect training to be easy to access and a constant companion in their careers.

Of course, it isn’t really the Training team’s fault that it can often take so long to get learners fully set up and ready to learn. Simple tasks like enrollment can become a nightmare when every step of the process is manual – from scheduling sessions and booking resources, to making duplicate entries in the LMS, LXP, HRiS, CRM, etc, to sending out communications.

So how do we cut through all that process and deliver younger workers what they expect from training – a fast and easy experience? The answer is that we integrate and automate all of those steps within a single platform. It takes setup and configuration, but the right automation tools can reduce complex processes to just a few clicks.

Flexible Learning

Speed and impact are obvious goals that benefit both the organization and the leaner. But it can seem like providing flexibility is a more one-sided deal. It takes work to provide different options to younger workers, but that work is an investment in their success that will pay off in the long run.

Why the focus on flexibility? Younger workers strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. And for them, that doesn’t necessarily mean showing up at 8 and disconnecting at 5. It means being able to move from working to handling other responsibilities, and being able to work under the conditions that are best for them.

Just as some workers perform better working remotely and others perform better in the office, different learners learn best in different ways. As a simple example, introverted learners are much less likely to succeed in seminar-style discussions or group activities where they’ll probably feel uncomfortable. Meanwhile, extroverted learners may feel under-stimulated in more private settings like mentorship or self-paced vILT courses.

Providing parallel paths for workers to reach their training goals takes more than just effort, however. Training teams will need software that can automate processes, and simplify the scheduling problems of managing many different options for training.

Workforce Change Is Inevitable
Ultimately, as Millennials continue to move into more senior leadership positions at the height of their careers, and GenZ workers fill in the ranks behind them, the workforce is approaching a critical mass of professionals who will be able to create company cultures that suits their expectations. Either business accepts a paradigm shift in how the workforce trains and works, or miserably high turnover and attrition rates will continue.

Making this kind of change isn’t going to be easy with traditional learning technology stacks. A more flexible and powerful approach to training software is going to be critical. If you’re pushing up against the limits of your technology already, why not take a moment to assess whether you could use a training management platform? Our short guide will walk you through five common pain points and explain how a training management platform could help you and your team.

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Caleb Shull was a Former Copywriter at Administrate.


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