We have reached a point, where for the very first time in history companies have five generations of staff working together. From the pre-1945 traditionalists (although scarce in the workforce nowadays) and the Baby Boomers to the Generation Xers, the Millennial Generation Y and not to mention the latest Generation Z of the mid-1990s to early 2000s.
With this vast diversity giving rise to multigenerational organizations, it is important for companies to embrace all the opportunities it provides as well as address the challenges it may present too. In this multifaceted concept, companies are beginning to implement means to leverage their multigenerational teams to strengthen business and drive business performance to new heights.
One way in which this can be done is through learning and developments that target need specific to each generation in order to improve performance, morale and engagement.
Challenges faced by multigenerational teams
The biggest challenge faced by multigenerational teams is a lack of awareness in terms of commonalities and differences between generations, especially when stereotypes are involved. These issues can affect clear communication channels and hinder productivity overall.
Assumptions can lead to a breakdown in communication and collaboration, leading to deterioration of team bonds. We know that divided teams are generally less productive that united teams.
Thus, it is important to manage multigenerational teams in such a way that everyone is aware of the generational differences and commonalities and use this knowledge to their advantage in business.
The introduction of new learning strategies
Since human capital is the arguably the most important resource a company can have, both in terms of capital and assets. It only makes sense to invest in the people that keep a company going by equipping them with knowledge and training that they need.
The main question plaguing employers at the moment is how to design and develop training strategies to suit their multigenerational workforce? The obvious first step is to understand the nuances and differences that each generation brings to the team.
Determine what commonalities are prevalent amongst the team and use these as starting clues to developing a new strategy. One such strategy that employers are adopting is that of mLearning.
mLearning for multigenerational teams
mLearning (or mobile learning) is exactly what it sounds like, using personal, electronic devices for distance learning.
Using mLearning to leverage the power of a multigenerational team is a new strategy that companies are employing to train their teams for increased productivity. Employers are often faced with the question of how to implement training strategies that can be scaled?
Especially in large companies with multiple geographic locations, it can be difficult to implement an in-person training session for all team members on a regular basis. This is where mLearning comes in to allow for scalability.
mLearning provides several benefits to large teams such as upskilling employees quicker, providing personalized training based on the employee’s role, region, or generation, and even improve employee retention and loyalty. Most importantly, mLearning is highly scalable and with implementation of new trends in it, it’s highly relevant as well.
Scaling mLearning as a training strategy
Globally we have seen the explosion of mobile use in just the past 5 years. The convenience of being able to do anything on the go has become very popular.
You are now able to easily stay in contact with friends and family on the other side of the world on a daily basis, do your banking while on the train to work in the morning, and even order your groceries and fast food online from the comfort of your couch.
Thus, it is no surprise that online, distance learning has also become extremely popular. Now, with mLearning as a means of training employees on an ongoing basis, training exercises have been made easy to facilitate as well as tracking employees’ progress and results.
Being able to complete training exercises on-the-go is appealing to many as they can complete these while commuting to work each day, at home or at the office, at a time that suits their schedule and does not disrupt regular workflow.
The benefits of mLearning for training teams
There are a whole host of benefits for using mLearning as your chosen method to train your multigenerational team.
First and foremost, mLearning can easily be made accessible to all team members all at the same time regardless of their location. What’s more is that it can be updated easily and re-administered to all employees without having to gather everyone together in the same place for training. mLearning is also great for encouraging collaborative as well as self-directed learning.
Scott Miller handles training and development programs at Best Essay Tips review and uses a story-telling approach to impart classes. He says, "mLearning can be offered in a variety of training styles such as formal and informal training, job aids, performance support and a supplement to training led by an in-person instructor."
The best advantage of mLearning especially for multigenerational teams is the fact that training can be personalized to suit each individual, each generation or each department based on employee roles.
Given all these great benefits, mLearning is the perfect strategy to implement for training multigenerational teams that can continually be scaled as needed while the company continues to grow.
A new era of learning
mLearning is more aligned to the way in which we presently would like to learn. In addition to all the benefits previously mentioned, there is also the benefit of flexibility in terms of your device of choice.
Some learners may prefer to learn on a laptop or desktop computer, other may prefer a tablet or smartphone. The support for learning on a range of devices has developed greatly with this method of learning.
Besides, all mobile learning platforms generally work seamlessly across devices, which means learners can switch from one device to another to suit their needs.
This also highlights the benefit of convenience allowing employees to start a session on their desktop computer in the office and complete it during the evening commute on their smartphone.
Best practices for multigenerational learning
Since each generation has varied levels of experience and knowledge and have grown up with varied educational systems, learning methods and available technology, it is important to acknowledge this when developing a new learning strategy for multigenerational teams.
Older generations may find it more difficult to adapt to mLearning than the Millennial and Z Generations. Each generation will thus have unique learning preferences and engage differently with the same content.
This means mLearning efforts need to be creative and adaptive with learning materials, formats and mediums to suit all generations to be successfully implemented.
Since the need for learning has become a continuous practice in almost all industries, employers need to be proactive in their methods of facilitating training to teams.
According to OneDigital Principal, Jeff Van Spankeren there are three best practices that employers should focus on when it comes to training in a multigenerational environment. These best practices include personalized learning experiences, embracing agile methods of learning and the introduction of collaborative learning.
Ways to administer mLearning
Since the Internet has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, there are new options available almost daily for learning online. Some examples of mLearning that can be used for teams include podcasts that can be listened to on daily commutes or short videos that can be watched in between meetings or daily tasks.
Microlearning nuggets as well as refresher nuggets that can be quickly consumed at any point in the day to stay atop of important issues in the industry. Job aids such as resources that can assist employee in their daily tasks like checklists for submitting documentation or work for review.
Practical exercises can be used to allow employees practice their skills in a safe and supervised environment where they can improve their mastery of the task.
Lastly, quizzes and challenges can be a great way to reinforce and refresh the knowledge learnt and keep employees on top of their learning activities. This can also create a little healthy competition and comradery amongst the team.
Case study: mLearning to train a sales team
Let’s take a look at an example to show the effectiveness of mLearning within a sales team at a leading product-based company. Before the training solution was implemented, a company was focused on improving sales productivity and closing more sales for their sales professionals by building their sales skills.
The challenge that they faced in accomplishing this was that their sales team had such busy schedules and were always in the field that there was no time to facilitate classroom-style training sessions.
Without regular training, the company was noticing gaps in their global sales team’s selling skills as well as their product knowledge, leading to a great loss in sales opportunities. mLearning was crucial in increasing the sales numbers of the team.
As any business should be, they were concerned by the effects of not having a good training strategy and opted for an mLearning strategy for their sales training.
After thoroughly analyzing their situation it was clear that they would need a mobile compatible training and learning solution that could be quickly and easily adopted by the sales team.
In the beginning the client was skeptical about shifting to a mobile form of learning, but after further discussions and clarification they were confident enough to invest in the mLearning solution.
Implementing an mLearning solution
Given that the sales team are always on the road and in the field, traditional training styles were not an option. However, a mobile-based form of learning was well-suited since the sales team were already equipped with a tablet device for work purposes.
After studying the selling framework and a range of sales scenarios, proven strategies in instructional design for sales were applied to the training solution. The mLearning solution made use of an avatar to represent a virtual senior sales representative who would lead mobile training sessions in the course.
During a training session, the learner is first introduced to a product to be sold along with a scenario that demonstrates best practices for selling that product before executing a sales conversation.
The mLearning solution
In this particular case study, modules used for mobile learning all included short, embedded videos that showcased new products along with bestselling practices. Modules were also run on a simple interface that is highly interactive and visually appealing.
Modules consisted of bite-sized, relevant information and easy-to-digest content. The training solution was designed to be mobile-friendly as well as a responsive design to make it as easy and convenient as possible to use on the go.
The solution provided to the sales team was not only compatible with all major tablet devices, but the content delivered was also of the highest quality. The idea of mLearning was well received by the sales team, allowing them to learn on the go when they had a gap in their schedules.
From the get-go the solution proved to be effective and efficient. The company noticed immediate benefits that included sales reps being enabled with an opportunity to learn at their own pace anytime and at any location.
The sales reps become a lot more confident in their selling as they were equipped with up-to-date knowledge on the products they were selling. They also experienced a drastic saving in costs previously used for travel to and from training sessions.
Managing mLearning as a method of training for multigenerational teams is the way of the future and can be highly successful in reaching each team member where they are at in the career and in the team. However, it is important to acknowledge and address challenges that come with having a multigenerational team and use them to your advantage.
This is a guest post by Tiffany Harper. Tiffany is a talented writer from New York, an extremely active woman, and a real leader. She began her career as a journalist and later proceeded it as an educational writer and editor. Now she works as the online consultant with Paper Writing Pro Service, mostly in the educational area. Please do not hesitate to contact her on Twitter.