The world today is not what it used to be three, two years ago.
The digital economy gave rise to new forces that have significantly affected markets: new problems and needs have impacted consumers’ demands, which resulted in the generation of new products and services. Consequently, methods of production and distribution had to adjust.
In this changing context, organizations need to count with the tools to reach their business goals and survive the competition, which is possible if management departments take on innovation as a basic element of their company culture.
Now, a company can’t define itself as innovative if its workforce isn’t well-trained and updated. Business leaders thus must guarantee that the human resources of their organizations learn how to master the required skills to generate novel ideas that allow them to solve problems creatively -problems, that until not long ago, were still unknown.
Traditional notions made us conceive that once we finished school and completed our careers in a college or university, we already had all the skills we needed to be successful in our professional life.
However, jobs today are not that static. AT&T CEO, Randall Stephenson, assures that those who don’t spend between five to 10 weekly hours learning online, will obsolete themselves with technology. Our accelerated world has increased and diversified the professional requisites we need to fulfill and to keep ourselves up-to-date. We need to continue learning…always and indefinitely.
Ellyn Shook, Accenture Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer, explains it clearly: we must use technology to transform employees, projects and organizations into adaptable and modern companies. The continuous development of skills, the efficiency of the workforce and the application of new technology are pivotal elements that enable companies to remain competitive in the midst of the digital revolution.
Continuous training of the human talent is inevitable and indispensable.
Millennials: the new workforce
Markets are not the only ones who have changed; there is also a new type of employee, that you, as business leader, should know. For 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials (those who were born between the early 80s and the 2000s), also called digital natives, given their fluency with technology, the digital language and videogames.
Millennials grew up during the Internet and social media boom. They easily navigate any device to connect with the world 24/7. They are multitaskers and are used to getting what they need immediately online.
It’s not just a job, it’s my life
Another important feature of millennials is their commitment to their work. In fact, 80% are willing to put in a great deal of effort beyond what’s normally expected if their additional work contributes to their organization’s success. Staying at the office from 8 to 5 every single day to go home later is not enough to fulfill their expectations: They want their skills and knowledge to be useful in the resolution of problems.
They want to work for organizations that motivate them to innovate and to create. They want their actions to make a real contribution to society. Millennials are eager to find their purpose through their jobs, but they also need organizations to offer them the possibilities and the space to achieve it. They strive to make a difference.
Development and career advancement
Millennials are used to immediacy; to searching and obtaining new information to consume. This naturally makes them impatient, curious and proactive. And while they’re passionate in their jobs, this momentum can easily dissipate if organizations don’t deliver training opportunities that allow them to grow and further develop.
This explains how on average, millennials don’t last more than two years at their jobs. If they don’t have the space to keep strengthening their skills or learning new ones, they will simply move forward.
Successful organizations today can’t afford leaving valuable employees untrained and without career advancement opportunities.
How do millennials learn?
The technology boom and constant use of the Internet and social media are phenomena that have defined millennials behaviour. These conditions will affect how this population consumes information and learns as well.
Given the unlimited access to information, millennials are equipped to research what they need to know and learn about it from various sources such as blogs, online courses, websites or YouTube videos (81% of American millennials actually use this platform).
Millennials also prefer to learn isolatedly, without maintaining a linear order among contents. One day they watch a video on Facebook, later on they read an article about the same topic on a digital magazine and then they participate in a related discussion on Quora.
The immediate and wide access to information and the agitated life style of millennials, has caused the attention span to fall to eight seconds (eight!). For example, it is common to see how on social media, information is increasingly presented through short videos of two minutes or less.
An innovative way to train an innovative population: Microlearning
The traditional teaching methodologies of face-to-face lessons, imposed schedules and a professor who’s the only talking in a room of 50 people, don’t adjust to current conditions. Fortunately, there is a new way that adapts to both the agitated professional context and the impatient profile of millennials.
Microlearning is a method to teach and deliver educational content through short and concise segments that cover focused topics while fulfilling specific objectives.
It involves using cutting-edge technology and implementing instructional design strategies to develop short lessons that combined reach a global goal: The effective learning of certain knowledge and skills.
Lessons can be created in several formats: Short videos (preferably of 90 seconds long), quizzes, interactive activities, gamification, presentations or readings.
Microlearning adjusts to millennials because it makes learning:
- Autonomous. Training courses can be taken in any device with an Internet connection (desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone).
- Independent. Employees define their schedules and may take courses anywhere, at anytime. They can also go back to them as many times as they wish. Flexible. Employees may take the lessons they want without having to follow any specific order.
- Practical. Short lessons allow employees to learn during short periods of time during the day without having to disrupt their work.
In summary, microlearning allows millennials to control their time, while empowering them with new knowledge, delivered through an engaging format.
Good microlearning practices
Microlearning can be an effective professional training strategy if certain parameters are followed:
- Clear learning objectives
Before beginning, the expected outcomes of the overall course must have been clearly defined e.g., what abilities and skills employees will have to be able to use in their work once the course is finished.
- Content outline
After objectives are defined, the course content must be delineated: What topics will be covered and what the structure will be. The best way to do it is through an index, in which the content is divided in chapters and these in short lessons.
- An objective per lesson
It’s key and essential that each lesson only covers one learning objective. Every lesson must tackle just one topic in order to guarantee the effective and quick retention of the content.
- Short lessons on high quality video
Lessons are preferably produced in 90 seconds videos. If it’s too difficult to produce short lessons, it’s probably because irrelevant information might have been included or because more than one topic is being covered.
Likewise, it’s indispensable to monitor the video quality and overall form: the audio, image and presentation must be impeccable, so employees trust the content that is being given to them.
- Interchangeable lessons
Employees must be able to view lessons in any order, while maintaining a general vision of the course’s goals.
- Practical lessons
It isn’t only about teaching theoretical concepts, but also about showing the practical application of the knowledge that’s being learned (how it translates to the working environment).
- Tracking of results
Once lessons are finished, it is necessary to verify whether employees have absorbed the new knowledge.
Assessments, such as quizzes and surveys that measure the performance of each employee, must be included. Likewise, it is highly recommended to use reports and analytics that keep track of employees’ activity patterns (connection periods, viewed lessons, number of visits, etc.).
Employees value any document that confirms his or her participation in a course that has enabled the learning of new professional skills. It is suggested to issue individual certificates once the course has been successfully completed.
Have we missed any good microlearning practice? Please, tell us in the comments.
Continuous training is a safe and inevitable investment
The signs are clear:
- A digital economy that accelerated the dynamics of markets.
- The need of organizations to adapt to this agile and competitive context.
- The training of the workforce as an indispensable measure to face new challenges.
- A new type of volatile and proactive employee, who requires advancement opportunities so companies can capitalize his or her talent.
And you? When will you start delivering training to your millennials using microlearning?