How to Train Different Generations in the Workplace

by Stacey Cessna, Director of Marketing | Sep 08, 2022
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The 21st-century workplace is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s not an exaggeration to say, it’s a place where decades of work history intersect. Modern companies are dealing with a multigenerational workforce who have birthdays as early as 1945 (or before) and as late as 1997. Needless to say, professional development and career training in this environment face unprecedented challenges.

Training Different Generations

Offering the right kind of training and professional development programs for your workforce will make for a more productive team. You’ll also get a more engaged workforce and one that wants to work for you. In the Age of the Great Resignation, company bosses do well to remember this point. According to Fortune, as of July 2022, 40% of workers are considering quitting their jobs. That’s nearly one in two employees. 

When you consider the fact that it costs about 2.5 times an employee’s salary to replace an employee, according to Gallup,  then you begin to understand why it’s in your best interest to do everything you can to keep the employees you do have. This includes providing them with adequate career training and professional development.

The sections below highlight the differences in the learning styles of each generation and what each wants in a training program. Knowing this allows you to create successful and engaging career training programs for each generation.

Traditionalists or Matures: Born 1945 or Before

Born before 1945, this group embraces civic engagement and structured teamwork. They stay at jobs longer than workers in any other age bracket and are very loyal. As such, it’s important to this generation that their sacrifices and quality of work are noticed. 

They expect their employers to show a certain amount of authority. Traditionalists respect the status quo and are less likely than those in other groups to speak up, even if something is incorrect.

Utilizing a hands on or classroom style approach with your training program, ensures this generation is engaged and learning from others in a way that benefits both parties. Give them a voice to train the younger generations and take advantage of the life experience they bring to the job.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964

While baby boomers tend to stay in a single job longer than millennials do, they spend less time at a single job than traditionalists do. Professional development and advancement count as big motivators for boomers and their identity is defined by their professional status, according to Bython Media.

Boomers would prefer training manuals in hard copy form, but can adapt to online coursework. Their training should make all the steps from A to Z obvious. That is, if they're training, they want to know how step "A" will eventually get them to where they want to go, including to a promotion. 

Due to their desire for recognition, career training for this group should include rewards, like giveaways, certificates, and even small bonuses. Finally, Boomers also gravitate toward planning and leadership, so if you can include them in the training process, you’ll win their favor as well. 

Generation X: 1965 to 1980

This group embraces independence more than any of their predecessors and has much less reverence for authority than either of the previous generations of workers. They value flexibility in the workplace — so much so that they’re willing to walk away from a job that’s inflexible.

They are the skeptics in the group, so when it comes to career training and professional development, it’s best to have an honest, straightforward approach. Being independent also means they prioritize self-directed educational opportunities and programs that enable them to learn on their own schedule course. So flexibility in career training and professional development methods matter to this group, so be sure to give them lots of options for types of training.

Millennials: 1981 to 1996

As informal as Gen X is, millennials are even more informal in the workplace. They love collaboration and expect feedback for their work. They also want plenty of interaction and a sense of purpose in their work. They grew up with the technology dominating the world today, so know they value information on-demand in digital formats.

Implementing training initiatives offering variety, social collaboration and self-directed learning options will appeal to their continuous desires for change, interaction with others and individual discovery. Learning activities that integrate into their lifestyles rather than being scheduled events on their calendar will prove to have the most positive development outcomes for these employees.

Gen Z: 1997 to 2012

Born just 25 years ago in 1997, Gen Z is the newest addition to the multigenerational workforce. This population holds several distinctions.

  • It’s the largest.
  • It is the most ethnically diverse.
  • It's very tech-savvy.

The last trait plays a big role in the decision-making process for Gen Z. They make their decisions about their jobs based on how technically savvy their employer is. That said, they also want face-to-face communication in the workplace. 

As far as training goes, they like personal experiences, like video meetings. They also like to learn via games and gamification. They are fast-paced in orientation, competitive, and independent, so their training should also reflect this.

Implementing Training Programs

Career development and training tailored toward each generation in the workplace ensures company success at all levels. The companies getting the most out of their employees don’t fight this trend. Rather, they work with it so that they have a well-trained workforce to handle the tasks set before them.

WebCE understands how important education is for career training and professional development. After all, we specialize in it! Whether you’re hiring new people, fulfilling compliance requirements, or need to enhance your employee’s industry knowledge, we have superior online courses with live support designed to help businesses maximize learning and development for all the generations in the workforce.

WebCE offers online learning opportunities for professionals in several fields, ranging from insurance, finance, tax and accounting, real estate, and funeral. Our courses cover a broad range of subjects and go beyond the basics. Propel your professional development and training programs today with WebCE.

Visit our business solutions page for more information on how WebCE can help you implement the right training and education programs.

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