02/05/2014

By Graham David, Managing Director, Blue Beetle

In a digital age, for Generation Y and Z, training must be brought to life, interactively, bit by bit. Generation Y has been shaped by the technological revolution that occurred throughout their youth with smart phones and tablets now the norm and being online and connected 24/7 seen as essential to the vast majority. Five years from now the intake of Generation Z employees will consist of people who have only ever known a wireless, hyper-linked world.

The challenge for businesses and organisations looking to further the learning and development of their Generation Y and Z employees lies in ensuring they are focused and engaged in order for the training being delivered to have real and lasting impact. These are people who like a collaborative approach to learning, want on demand delivery of information and knowledge at their fingertips and are tech-savvy, yet can have a short attention span, become bored easily and lose concentration. What this means is that traditional ‘talk and chalk’ training is unlikely to be the most effective method of delivering essential skills training. With these characteristics in mind, what is needed is interactive training that is high-impact and entertaining in order to grab and maintain their attention and ensure the knowledge is retained and put into practise outside of the training room.

How can this be achieved? One approach is to use high quality theatre techniques in a business context as it is engaging and captures interest right from the start of a training session. This doesn’t mean role-play, which is almost universally disliked and guaranteed to have delegates sinking into their seats, rather it means live action case studies using actors to present situations specific to both the topic in hand and to the organisation in question. This brings ideas and training concepts to life and ensures that delegates leave having seen, understood and retained the tools they can go away and act upon them.

An alternative is to encourage delegates to make their own training videos on their own devices, enabling a collaborative approach that harnesses their technological skills and allows them to be creative. Asking delegates to curate their own content via their devices and then find ways to use it, for example by creating their own flick book on the subject, or their own training video, is a powerful approach. This can then be beamed on to a large screen and shared with all attendees.

The collaborative learning element that is so important in creating an effective learning environment for Generation Y and Z can be further enhanced by the use of Twitter, discussion forums, instant messaging and the like and these elements can be incorporated into the design of a training course. In their own, personal time these employees are choosing to spend a lot of time on their devices and expect to be able to connect to each other and send relevant information or updates as and when they please, so encouraging these activities as part of the learning process can be highly effective in getting the message across.

Organisations that put in place interactive, entertaining, collaborative and social learning and development opportunities for their employees, blending energy, humour and strong content, will find that their training programmes are effective in delivering the required results.