Post-Millennials. Gen Tech. iGeneration. Generation Z. Whatever you want to call them, you probably already have a few of these tech-savvy young adults in your workplace.
Born roughly between 1996 and 2011, members of Generation Z are not naive. They grew up in a post-9/11 landscape, have endured multiple economic recessions, and have their sights fixed on pursuing meaningful career success and stable jobs as they graduate college (the oldest among them graduated as early as 2017). Now they’re sitting at the desk next to you, eager to learn and improve the world around them however they can.
Generation Z is a force of dedicated, innovative multitaskers ready to bring your company into the forefront of technology if you’ll let them. Since they grew up in such close connection with the internet, screens, and ease of access to information, engaging them can be a challenge for those of us who grew up with VHS tapes and floppy disks. We know they learn best with technology, but how can we make their tech-centric learning experiences as captivating and informative as possible?
Here are five tips for keeping your Gen Z learners interested and inspired.
1. Prioritize visual design.
Focusing on your online course’s aesthetics may be low on your priority list, but here’s why it should be high: Gen Z is all about user experience. If the experience is clunky, confusing, or calls back to the dial-up days, they’re not going to want to use it. A bonus is that focusing on enhancing visuals for ease of user experience benefits everybody, not just Gen Z; who doesn’t love a beautiful, seamless online experience after all?
2. Make it accessible online.
Seems like a no-brainer, right? These days, it’s inconceivable to expect employees of any age group to keep track of a binder of training manuals or a printed handout of your client’s style guide. Moving this content online makes it easier (and more sustainable) to update as well as simpler to access; your Gen Z employees will be grateful to be able to access the information they need from their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop right at the moment they need it.
3. Get them working together.
It may seem counterintuitive, but growing up in close proximity to technology has given Generation Z a deep appreciation for the amazing work people can do when they’re connected and collaborating—social media is all about being social, after all. Give your Gen Z employees opportunities to be in the same room and work on projects together to help them retain knowledge and learn from each other.
4. Teach in small bites.
It's both a cliché and a truth: kids these days have pretty short attention spans. But short attention spans aren't always a bad thing, especially if you can make it work to your advantage. Keeping lessons punchy and pithy will ensure the material gets digested quickly and helps lessons stick in your employees’ minds while they move on to the next thing. And the next thing, and the next thing...
5. Stress the practical skills of your lessons.
“Uh-huh, and what are you going to do with that?” was probably the number-one question your Generation Z employees fielded while they were getting their degree. It’s a question that rings in their minds each time they’re asked to learn a new skill or complete a new training. Make sure you have a satisfying answer.
Access, collaboration, and practicality are the keys to connecting with your company’s freshest faces and making sure that they are on-task and fulfilled in all that they do. If you can use technology to effectively bring those qualities to the surface in your trainings, meetings, and company culture, you will undoubtedly hold the attention of some of the workforce’s brightest minds.
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