How are you training your Millennial learners?

by Brett Henebery18 Jan 2017
If your organisation is only offering bite-sized learning, there is a chance your learners will go hungry, cautions an L&D professional.

Clayton Ilolahia, head of organisation development and learning at the Sydney Opera House, recently spoke at the Learning & Development Masterclass held in Sydney on 30 November.

In his presentation – titled: Balancing speed with depth: Training the Millennial worker – Ilolahia pointed out that while social learning and micro-learning are often used as industry buzzwords, organisations may not be harnessing their true potential.
“Most of us have read articles about the habits of millennial workers, their need for flexibility, purpose and their preference for multitasking. But are these needs so different from non-millennials?” he asked.
“While social learning and micro-learning are two popular approaches for millennial development, these bite sized learning methods offer value to all employees.”
In Ilolahia’s previous role, he was a training manager in the luxury retail industry. He said that social learning and micro-learning always played an important role in developing his team.
“A high percentage of the team were casual employees so sending them to off-site training days was not always possible or financially logical but I had to ensure their customer service skills and product knowledge was consistent with the skills and knowledge of our full time employees,” he explained.
“The culture of learning in retail, particularly the luxury sector, offers great examples of social learning and micro-learning. Due to the seasonality of the product, learning programs had a short lifespan and needed to be bite sized.”
He added that a dynamic retail team is one that is always learning new sales and service techniques by observing their colleagues in action on the sales floor.
Ilolahia also observed that in stores where strong leadership was lacking, team engagement was also not strong and social learning was minimal. In many cases undesirable behaviours became shared amongst the team.
“Working for the world’s busiest performing arts venue poses similar challenges when it comes to bringing teams together for learning. Many employees are just starting their work day as the office teams are leaving,” he said.
“This requires flexibility from our OD&L team and we are always looking to find new ways of making learning more accessible.”
Below, Ilolahia shares some ideas for organisations to enhance social learning and micro learning.
Ideas for social learning
  • Having a social learning culture requires L&D to be much more in the business. Ensure your L&D team have the time and resources to properly support your social learning strategy
  • Help leaders create a culture that supports social learning in the workplace. Social learning will increase where there are opportunities for the team to share their experiences with each other
  • Be mindful that some leaders may need L&D support to identify the behaviours and competencies they want to encourage and develop in their team through a social learning approach 
  • Encourage leaders to acknowledge social learning success stories with their team, which will feed a social learning culture 
  • Find your place within the social learning environment. It may not be facilitating from the front of the room. Instead take a step back and allow your learners to take the lead
Ideas for micro-learning 
  • Micro-learning is not about shrinking learning into a shorter and more compact size - unless the same learning outcomes are achievable in the reformed size
  • Complex topics can be broken down into smaller pieces but the sum total should still provide a sufficient depth of learning 
  • A blended learning approach works well with micro-learning. Consider what other learning aids help increase retention, e.g. visual aids around the office, email reminders, FAQ sheets, practice activities...
  • Encourage your learners to complete and be upfront with how much of their time they need to commit before they commence. Micro-learning looks attractive to the busy professional who can sometimes underestimate the discipline required to be a micro-learner
The next Learning & Development Masterclass will be held in Melbourne on 6 April. Find out more and register here