We live in an exciting time. Probably the first time in history when the workplace consists of five generations, with a probable gap of 50 years in age! Tackling this multi-generational workforce is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today. From the baby boomers to the millennials, each generation has its own unique experiences and histories. A one size fits all approach to keep them happy can be a total disaster.
The presence of this multigenerational workforce has changed workplace dynamics. Seeing an employee report to a senior who is ten years younger is common. It is not just the dynamics, but the entire nature of markets, products, consumption, and preferences that have also seen a massive shift across generations. This is accompanied by a massive talent shortage facing the global job market. Employing and retaining the right talent remains a top priority for organizations everywhere.
With such a mixed bag as a central characteristic of businesses everywhere, training can no longer be uniform to all. Employee training needs to be personalized, individualistic and of superior quality. In order to be able to achieve this, each generation needs to be carefully analyzed and their unique set of preferences need to be met. This is possible through adaptive learning.
Adaptive learning focuses on the basic principle that each individual learner has a unique learning style as well as preferences. Each learner has specific motivators that engage them in the learning process. All this is determined by their educational experience in schools and colleges, the culture they belong to, the language they speak, their interests and inclinations and the technology they have been exposed to over the years. Adaptive learning notices these trends in each and every learner and pushes put the knowledge process accordingly.
Let’s look at some of the ways in which adaptive learning really wins at cracking the multi-generational workforce engagement problem –
- It makes learning personalized
Personalization of learning makes way for maximizing knowledge retention and application on the job. It takes into account the individual’s preferred and habitual style of learning. A lot of this has to do with the generation the learner belongs to, what teaching methods he was exposed to, what social influences form a part of his preferences and what technologies shape his behavior.
Adaptive learning uses intelligent tools to personalize instructional content. It notes down preferences and learning styles of each individual learner through rich analytics and data and thereby creates individualized learning paths for each of them. Personalization also looks at the employee’s current skills and attitudes in the job and the knowledge gaps that exist for ensuring better future performance. All this information is used as a rich background to close knowledge gaps and offer a holistic and immersive learning experience for the employee and to each generation.
- It puts learners at the driver’s seat
Adaptive learning creates unique learning paths for each individual learner and enhances the experience by giving them a lot of options to choose from. Learners can be presented with a varied set of courses that interest them, out of which they pick what they want or feel is necessary at that point.
On the basis of the choices the learner makes, the rest of the path follows a customized route, delivering snippets of information that the learner is actually interested in. Such a system keeps engagement levels high as there is no kind of force being used to develop knowledge and skills. A predefined target is introduced to the learner, and the interest in the topic ensures that the learners stay connected to the training they are consuming, and show a genuine interest in completing tasks and achieving targets defined within the learning path.
For learners, especially the millennial generation who like to explore on their own, they can solve and find answers to basic issues themselves. They also have access to a vast sea of information which enables self-learning and just in time information.
- It engages all kinds of learners
Because adaptive learning explores the preferences and skills of each individual learner, they also offer the best ways to drive up learner engagement. Engagement cannot be forced, it needs to come from the employee’s will and enthusiasm. This motivation for learning will depend on the kind and the way knowledge is being made available to the learner. Motivation can be intrinsic, such as the innate desire to improve and be more confident, or extrinsic, such as rewards and recognition attached to great performance. Adaptive learning focuses on these factors and maximizes learner motivation.
Every generation needs different modes of engagement due to the changing technological and social landscape. For this, organizations need to research upon and employ a variety of engagement techniques that resonate with the multi-generational workforce. Rewards and recognition can also act as a great motivator to complete tasks and be one’s most productive self. Depending on what is most motivating for an employee or a team, points in a learning program can be exchanged for gifts or rewards. For the millennial generation, gamification could be a great way to boost engagement.
- It benefits businesses
Over one-third of L&D teams say that measuring learning impact is their top priority. If businesses can gather insights into the actual efficiency of their learning programs, they will be better able to have a more productive and engaged workforce. A higher engagement would mean higher employee retention.
Adaptive learning helps businesses achieve this goal by using analytics to articulate training vision across generations and link it directly to positive learning outcomes. The cost of learning also goes down as technology enables learning to take place irrespective of infrastructural and travel costs. It helps organizations analyze the impact of their training through predictive analytics where the behavior of learners can be tracked on the basis of their performance and interest. Such data can be used to predict key events for the future and study traits and patterns correlated to success or failure. Businesses can explore the actual impact of their learning programs by comparing behavior on the job pre and post-training.
Adaptive learning thus caters to a multi-generational workforce in this sense, by providing employees what they need, when they need it, in a way that does not annoy them and in a way that maximizes their potential. It is almost as engaging with a real instructor on a one-on-one basis.