Our high-tech world is moving fast. In the midst of the social media explosion, technology continues to advance at lightning speed. At the same time, companies are onboarding the largest generation to enter the workforce yet, the Millennials (92 million).1  At the helm of this “perfect storm” is the business leader—Chief Learning Officer or Head of Human Resources—responsible for training and developing employees.

To survive and thrive in a hyper-connected world, companies not only need to keep up with the latest technologies, they need to foster ongoing, accessible and engaging training across multiple distribution channels.  But, the reality is that’s easier said than done. As employers fervently invest in new and emerging technologies to become more productive, many are finding the reverse is true.

“What I see most compelling in today’s business environment is that companies as a whole are not putting adequate resources into training,” said Suzanne F. Kaplan, President of Talent Balance, and generational consultant. “It started with the recession, but it’s never really come back. This training deficit has impacted every generation in every industry.”  

Kaplan, who specializes in increasing workforce performance through multigenerational integration, explains that when you look across the generations, you see a lack of training and development that could enable performance improvement. The Millennials, the newest generation taking the workforce by storm, are not all ready for leadership positions. Many Gen Xers aren’t either because Baby Boomers have delayed their retirement, resulting in minimal opportunities for Gen Xers to be moved into leadership roles. Plus, companies don’t think to provide training for the more experienced, mature group of employees (those above 50), even though many of them still have a lot to offer if given the advancement opportunities.

“What amazes me is how organizations as a whole—whether public or private sector—will buy the latest, greatest technologies, but then they don’t put money into the upkeep of these tools,” said Kaplan.  “And, more importantly, they don’t put resources into the people who are using them.”

”There’s a missing link here.  No matter what the technologies, in order for companies to be profitable, people have to know how to use them.  Without investing in training, companies will not remain competitive.”

– Suzanne F. Kaplan

Bottom line, the future of business is not what it used to be. If training doesn’t have a seat at the leadership table, it could impede your company’s ability to succeed.

Enterprise and Generational Disconnect

Disengagement has become an epidemic in the corporate world. This is especially troubling when you consider the least engaged generation is the wave of Millennials descending upon us.

If you’re a CLO or HR leader facing these statistics, you have your work cut out for you.  Keith Carvalho, Vice President of Sales at Vitalyst, says he understands firsthand. “I hear it from clients every day.  The new generation of employees wants training to be relevant, more on-demand and interactive.  It’s more like, ‘show me what works and tell me what I need in a flash.’  They want to know not only how the technology works, but how it applies to their individual business roles.  Businesses need to incorporate this approach to their instructional strategies.”

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So, the questions for learning leaders become: How do we bridge the learning gaps?  How do we deliver this training in a way that enables higher levels of adoption and satisfaction?  And, more importantly, how do we provide this in the most cost-effective, efficient manner that helps reach the full potential of our technology investments?  

Business leaders need to find a way to integrate the right training and support programs into their plans. Plus, they must deliver them in a way that resonates with all audiences and gets those technologies adopted.

Bridging the Gap by Leveraging the Influence of a New Generation

Companies today require a more programmatic, ongoing approach that helps them engage users of all different technologies.  To increase employee proficiency and enterprise productivity, it’s more effective to employ a variety of mediums to connect with and train people of diverse learning styles.  Carvalho recommends looking through the “generational lens” of your workforce to better understand how you may adjust your training strategy to target individual adoption personalities.

In a fast-paced knowledge economy, traditional training methodologies are no longer relevant. It’s critical that companies shift their corporate strategy and integrate new perspectives in learning for a new generation. By understanding and catering to different generational preferences in the way they need and want to communicate, everyone will benefit. By offering flexibility and personalized options to foster more engaging learning opportunities and ongoing support, you can help end-users operate at peak performance and effectively train, engage and retain talent across all generations.

Making training an integral part of your business will help create a more engaged workforce. Then, everyone can reach their full potential to help drive enterprise-wide productivity and maximize investments for future success.