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Gen Y to Pollsters: We Love Training But Not the Traditional Kind

— by Jessica Stillman

Job training

On the Mindflash blog before we’ve pointed out there’s plenty of evidence for a training crisis in American business, with various experts and surveys bemoaning a “sink or swim” approach to on-boarding new employees.  But is one group in particular especially underserved by current approaches to training?

Due to their inexperience, young workers in their 20s just starting out in their careers (aka “Gen Y”) are obvious candidates for a group of those most likely to benefit from training, but a recent survey suggests that, in reality, they’re deeply dissatisfied with the kind of training they’re receiving.

A study by Workplace Options, a provider of employee benefit options, asked 459 working Americans about their experiences with training programs and found stark differences between the training desires of younger and older respondents. Among workers 18-29:

  • 75 percent said they would find training programs more valuable if they could be available remotely through hand-held mobile devices. Just 40 percent of respondents age 30-45 and 26 percent age 46-65 agreed.
  • 63 percent of young workers said they’d find workplace training sessions more valuable if they were less time consuming. Overall, 39 percent of respondents said this.
  • 95 percent of young employees said they would be more comfortable talking to supervisors if internal communications training were provided. 67 percent of respondents age 30-45 and 66 percent of workers age 46-65 agreed.
  • 70 percent of younger workers said the availability of personal or professional development training is as an important employee perk.

So how does Gen Y like their training? Short, mobile but readily available, suggests the survey. The takeaways for trainers were also summed up by Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options:

Workers under the age of 30 grew up with different tools and expectations than middle-aged workers and baby boomers. Younger professionals are more inclined to communicate and interact effectively through technology, so the standard model of one person lecturing to a room full of people may not be the most productive approach to reach this age group.

These are conclusions that should sound familiar to regular readers of the Mindflash blog where we’ve covered evidence that technology improves training outcomes for Gen Y, as well as experiences out of the Googleplex showing short bursts of training can be more effective than extended learning sessions.

More about employee training and retention on the Mindflash blog.

London-based blogger Jessica Stillman covers generational issues and trends in the workforce for

(Image courtesy of Flickr user Adikos, CC 2.0.)

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