As a mother of three boys who are members of Generation Z (Gen Z), I wonder how future employers will keep their attention with corporate training. Defined loosely as the generation born between 1996 and 2011, Gen Z is 25 percent of the world’s population. Gen Z is the world’s first generation of truly digital natives. They were born and have grown up with high-speed internet, smartphones, social media and access to news.
When I was growing up, we had a few television channels to pick from. You checked the TV guide, chose among a few options and made sure you watched your selection during its time slot. In contrast, my children have seemingly infinite options to select from and spend hours a day watching digital content on multiple devices. Except for parental guidelines and access control technology, they have complete control over what they watch and how they consume it.
According to research by multi-platform media company Awesomeness, in partnership with research firm Trendera, the top five social platforms that Gen Z is using are YouTube (79 percent), Facebook (78 percent), Instagram (69 percent), Snapchat (68 percent) and Twitter (49 percent). Across these platforms, Gen Z watches an average of 68 videos per day.
As training leaders think about investing in training technology and infrastructure, we need to consider the needs of Gen Zers. Gen Z will hit the corporate workforce in a couple of years, and the technology we invest in today must support their preferences and lifestyle.
Training millennials brought about changes in training, such as microlearning. But we need to adapt now to the needs of this upcoming generation, which refuses to be passive learners. Here are three key trends that we need to consider in our future training infrastructure.
Gen Zers are used to learning and playing in social environments. The games Fortnite Battle Royal from Epic Games, for example, is wildly popular due in part to social gaming and team collaboration. Gen Zers tend to embrace social learning environments, where they can be hands-on and directly involved in the learning process. They expect on-demand services that are available at any time and with low barriers to access.
Companies need to consider collaborative learning environments that can meet these needs. Collaborative learning capitalizes on different skills and experiences to solve problems faster and get better results. The technologies that enable collaborative learning, which are mostly web-based, connect people and social tools while they work.
Virtual Reality (VR)
VR training is not a new concept but should be considered when looking at solutions for Gen Z. It is already used to train employees who work in high-risk environments, such as the military and health care. Learners can perform real strategies or actions, but in a virtual environment, they can afford to make mistakes.
Use of VR in education settings has increased due to new solutions, such as Lenovo’s Virtual Reality Classroom, which delivers a teaching and learning VR experience for K-12 education. Solutions such as Lenovo’s will change the way teachers teach lessons and students consume information. Because students will be familiar with learning through VR solutions, corporate trainers need to consider how they will use this technology going forward.
Used to boost reinforcement, gamification has started to gain traction in the corporate learning space. Gamification solutions are designed to ignite people’s competitive spirit and make learning fun.
Gen Zers now spend 52 percent of their daily online time on mobile devices, according to 2017 GlobalWebIndex research. This comes out to average of four hours and 10 minutes – much of which is spent playing online games. We need to deliver training in a format that Gen Zers are both familiar with and excited about.
What about non-Gen Zers that will still inhabit the workplace? I would argue that their needs are adapting to the new channels of information, and we should design for the incoming generation. Learner attention span is shorter than ever, and mobile devices prevail. Corporate training needs to adapt to this brave new world.