hyper connected millennials

Group of attractive young people sitting on the floor using a laptop, Tablet PC, smart phones, headphones listening to music, smiling

If you are under 35 years old, it is most unlikely that you have ever used Microfiche as a research tool. Gone are the days when we would go to the library, look at the index of a book and find the information we needed. This sequence would then be repeated by cross-referencing the information in another book, and transcribing or highlighting it before it’s forgotten.

Today’s young learners have a plethora of information at their fingertips. With such easy access to technology and resources, the younger generation have evolved to learn in a very different way to those I was exposed to during my schooling days.

Research has found that millennials are less likely to learn from text, such as books and research papers, but are more likely to learn and understand from multi-media, like videos. Gen Y learners value and prioritise information that is relevant to them in the moment, and then simply place it in the deleted folder of their mind once it is no longer of any use. This is probably because retaining information for long periods of time hardly seems necessary when it can be re-accessed effortlessly at the click of a button.

The desire to acquire knowledge for its own sake is less prevalent now that Google has become a “basic commodity” in the developed world. With the Internet being so readily available and resources easily attainable, it is not surprising that young people tend to have short attention spans when it comes to old-school ‘reading and remembering’ techniques.

Constant multi-tasking is seen to go hand in hand with a shortened attention span. Reading something on a mobile screen, whilst listening to music and walking to the train station, is just a day-to-day example of this divided focus that is so readily seen amongst the younger generation…

So how does this affect teaching and learning? How can those working in learning and development accommodate these new styles of skill acquisition?

To engage the new-age learners we must avoid using tediously long materials, and instead “break-up” the information being presented. Ways of encouraging focus can include question and answer time, a quiz, particularly one that uses technology such as Kahoot’ or a break-off group activity or a group discussion. This must be done in regular intervals to cater to their fast paced attention spans.  Younger learners also like to Google what you are talking about whilst listening to you speak.  Statistics also indicate a preference to learning by example rather than learning by individual trail and error. This “cut to the chase” mentality is not surprising in the modern world where productivity and results are valued above individual knowledge.


The video below shows 5 ways to engage Millennial learners


More on the way Gen Y learns: http://blog.impraise.com/360-feedback/how-millennials-learn-in-the-workplace-employee-engagement


The Workplace of the Future 

By 2020, 50% of the US work force will be millennials, which means work places will need to cater to the way millennials learn and work.

A company that is already one step ahead in this sense is Google. Google provides their employees break-out rooms for them to indulge in activities like ping pong, reading or simply playing on their phone. In addition to these, they also have access to on-site gym facilities and are provided with a free lunch. Creating a casual environment whilst placing importance on non-work related aspects, such as exercise and nutrition, may be the key to increased productivity in the work place…

A lot of us envy the young, tech savvy people who have the privilege of working in such an exciting environment. But what are the benefits of giving employees these distractions?

As we know, Millennials struggle to stay focused on the one task for too long. Comically nick-named the goldfish generation, they require a relaxed, self-directed learning environment to achieve their full potential. Furthermore, the younger generation prefer a much less formal and authoritative way of working. Many believe this is due to them growing up with a lot less discipline in school.

Being a Baby-Boomer myself, it’s hard to understand how all these seemingly unproductive activities could actually increase a company’s productivity. Although Google claims that these distractions can actually help the young workforce in becoming more focused and able to have a relaxed space to develop their ideas.

With this in mind, Google seems to be leading the way in Millennial work-spaces and setting up their business to grow with the employees of the future.

Here is a view from Infosys on 5 trends that define the workplace of tomorrow…