Last week we discussed the different factors that tie into customizing training for your individual employees to ensure that their needs and goals are being met. One of the four factors that you should take into consideration is the actual age of the employee. Many organizations are familiar with working with a few generations at once, but with individuals working longer, it is very likely that employers will have up to five generations of workers to manage. These generational groups include:

  • The Silent Generation – Born between 1925 and 1946
  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946 and 1964
  • Generation X – Born between 1965 and 1980
  • Generation Y – Born between 1980 and 1990
  • Millennials – Born after the early 1990s

Generalizations aside, each group of workers has unique mannerisms, characteristics, and attitudes towards work and values based on the life experiences of that generation. These generational influences directly impact how they learn and retain information. Individuals from the Silent Generation are very hard-working, are loyal and respectful of authority, and are detail-oriented and focused. Baby Boomers live to work and are dedicated team players who are efficient, experienced, and knowledgeable. Generation X individuals are adaptable, independent, care about performance, and are typically technology literate. Generation Y and Millennials are often lumped together and are socially responsible, team-oriented multitaskers, who tend to be very technologically savvy.

When it comes to training, take these characteristics into consideration and work on designing training that is flexible and incorporates a number of different approaches to convey the same information. For example, Generation X, Y, and Millennial workers will likely respond to technology and computer-based training that they can do on their own time. Older workers such as those in the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers who learn best through immediate application will learn best through a hands-on approach to training such as classroom training followed by a demonstration and practice of the learned material.

Blended learning techniques cater to both generational styles of learning and combines online or technology-based training with a classroom training session. This combination of methods provides the younger generations access to technology and more mature learners a face-to-face setting.

Regardless the age of your participants, make certain that you avoid straight lecturing. Individuals learn best when training is interactive and includes activities and variety. Include real examples and live demonstrations to help them connect and apply the lesson. Focusing on providing your employees a variety of flexible training means will ensure that the knowledge you are presenting is retained, used, and understood by every group of employees.