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Workplace Predilections: The Next Generation (Next Gen)

How do you refer to our youngest generation? Next Gen, Gen Z, iGen, Centennials, and Gen We are all monikers that have been proposed. As they emerge as a presence in the workplace, learning leaders must consider their preferences as well as their potential when designing effective workplace learning, collaboration, and communication experiences. In a recent blog, I described this generation as one that depends heavily on their personal devices for connecting to others. Next Generation employees prefer point-of-need access to information versus a more structured curriculum. They seek out visual, graphical stimuli versus lengthy text.

With that in mind, we need to create experiences and use instructional techniques that sit at the intersection of Next Gen preferences and organizational goals for a more productive digital workplace.

Audience Response

Most high schools, colleges, and universities use mobile apps that encourage interactivity and allow them to monitor individual learner and group pulses, preferences, questions, and trends. This real-time data allows instructors to shift their lesson plan focus mid-stream, if necessary, to address questions and learner confusion. Transferring use of this technology to corporate learning world is a no-brainer. It addresses another workplace need: the ability for learning teams to move from manual to automated methods for collecting, analyzing, and reporting assessment data. Keywords: audience response app, interactive poll, mobile assessment

People We Can Look Up To

According to social recognition firm Globoforce, “Top reasons people stay at their company are meaningful work and their team.” (source) Speakers at professional conferences and forums have historically been those with name recognition; however, there is a growing demand for speakers who are social activists, community organizers, and experts on cutting-edge issues and topics. The Next Gen admires those who are taking bold stands based on shared core values.

Human rights lawyers, journalists, and fresh, new faces running for public office are just a few examples of roles who we are following in droves on social media. Bringing their thought leadership to a corporate setting is a way to humanize our workplace and energize individuals to become more productive. Keywords: social activist, shared values

Create Useful Artwork

Infographics are not an innovative concept, but having learners create them as a practical activity during a workshop is a technique you should experiment with. In a digital workplace, presenting data in a compelling way is a behavior we all must embrace, regardless of generation. There is more data than ever to synthesize, and creating tables will no longer illustrate the trends nor help promote your ideas. Designing and presenting an infographic may be either a team or an individual exercise, and since it is multimodal, it will serve to engage both sides of the brain. Parameters for learners to discuss include:

  • Layout of text, including color, shape, and whitespace consideration
  • Design themes
  • Incorporation of interactive elements (surveys, links, hashtags)

Below are two examples of infographics:

Have teams post and present their work products and request peer and facilitator input on how well the infographic conveys ideas, collects data, and enables real-time decision-making. This activity supports a common organizational goal for more effective presentation of data. Keywords: infographic, data presentation, multimodal learning tools

What workplace preferences, learning-related or otherwise, do your Next Gen employees get excited about? Share your ideas in the Comments below. Thank you!



About the Authors

Ellen Kumar
Ms. Kumar is a Solution Architect with GP Strategies, and has served in roles ranging from Account Executive, to Operations Director, to Project Manager/Training Consultant. Prior to GP Strategies, she worked for University of Dayton Research Institute and GE Aircraft Engines (now GE Aerospace). She holds an M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from University of Dayton.

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