According to a study by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, Millennials (a.k.a. Gen-Y) will make up 34% of the work force by 2014. By 2020, this will increase to nearly 50%. As this new generation starts to take over the business world, they will also demand new approaches to professional training. In fact, 22% of Millennials see training and development as the most valued benefit from their employers.
These statistics got me thinking about what this new generation will demand from training, and how their influence is already changing professional development as we know it. Since Millenials grew up in an era of technological ubiquity, they aren’t just tech-savvy, they are digital natives. As a result, we can expect that technology will be a key factor in Gen-Y’s influence on the workplace.
With that, here are a few key ways digital natives are changing business training:
1. Collaborating constantly: We’ve heard over and over again that this generation is more connected online than any other. But social networks aren’t just for fun, they are also a primary way for Gen-Y to learn about best practices and on-the-ground experiences from coworkers with whom they collaborate.
2. Demanding more feedback: Digital natives are used to the real-time feedback that defines interactions in the social sphere. This means they will be more likely to ask for critiques throughout the training process – which can help you better adjust to their individual learning goals.
3. Making more meaningful contributions: According to the UNC study mentioned above, digital natives are highly-motivated and desire substantive professional development experiences. Not only will they seek out training that gives them value, but they will also want to contribute to their company in meaningful ways from day one.
4. Increasing device freedom: Polls have shown that high percentages of young adults prioritize device freedom in the job search process. Since they are likely to bring their smartphone or tablet to work, they are also likely to seek new uses for those devices during training.