LMSs are poised for disruption thanks to Gen Z, says Anuraj Soni.
For organisations that are still grappling with the moods and eccentricities of the millennial workforce, things are about to get more complex. Generation Z will soon surpass the millennial generation in number, accounting for 32% of the global population in 2019, compared with 31.5% millennials.
This ‘younger than Google’ group of people will soon be the newest members of the global workforce. In fact, the US alone accounts for 61m Gen Zers looking for job opportunities.
Gen-Next brings with them a new challenge for corporates everywhere. Born after 1996, this is the world’s first truly digital native generation. They are hyper-connected and high-tech, and they have a very different approach to learning. So, the L&D strategies that companies adopt need to be in-sync with this generation.
The Gen-Next approach to learning
They were born and grew up amidst high-speed internet, they like fast-moving technology and immediate gratification. This makes their learning needs very different. Over 76% of Gen Z professionals feel that skills required for workplace efficiency today is significantly different from what was accepted by their millennial predecessors.
- Highly dependent on smartphones. From entertainment to shopping, from research to decision-making, Gen Z is big on smartphones. In fact, they had access to high-end devices at a much younger age than any other generation.
You can’t blame them; it is the millennials who have made the need for mobile-compatible content accessibility so popular. Today, 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone, which is a huge figure to ignore.
- Resistance to authority and defined structures. Smartphones and other gadgets ensure that they can access their learning material from anywhere in the world, at any time. This brings to light an important fact – this generation doesn’t like extremely structured or static curricula.
They look for independence in learning and problem solving, such that 43% Gen Zers say they like a more self-directed and customised way of learning.
- Penchant for gamification and social learning. Want to boost engagement levels? Ignite their competitive spirit through games, include some loyalty point programs too and you will have their full attention.
While millennials are high on video-on-demand services like Netflix, their younger counterparts are busy playing games like Fortnite and Hunger Games. Over 73% of Gen Z own video game consoles.
Seven out of 10 leaders have been skeptical about how collaborative Gen-Next will be in the workplace. But, surprisingly, Gen Z likes social interaction, even with such high affinity for gadgets.
Increased exposure to social media platforms has made them incredibly socially driven and collaborative. Healthy competition between workers and social learning opportunities gets them interested and motivated. This is where features like gamification are useful in making learning fun.
The future of corporate training in the Gen Z era
Generation Z feeds on innovation, social equality and originality. And, 60% of Gen Z study and share knowledge online, through YouTube videos, blogs, Medium articles, etc. They thrive on collaboration. Most importantly, they don’t shy away from failure. Instead, they try again and again to master a concept, at a pace suitable to them.
From the enterprise learning perspective, modules will have to be more hands-on, informal and adaptable to personal needs and preferences, for Gen-Next. Some key characteristics of effective learning programs for them include:
- Highly qualified training program manager: Preferably millennials (77% of Gen Z prefers a millennial manager over Gen X).
- Continuous and prompt feedback: In the form of research interviews and surveys (60% of Gen Z want their managers to check-in multiple times during the week).
- Assessment of personal goals: Identifying skills and topics they need training in.
- Creative and relevant content: Use of mixed media and visually stimulating content, such as infographics, short YouTube-like instructional videos and bite-sized learning modules.
- High levels of engagement: Gamification, presence of a mascot or even a virtual AI-powered assistant can make programs more fun and engaging.
- Flexibility: The choice and freedom to choose the subject matter, learning time, etc.
- Adaptability: Platforms that can identify the learning behavior of each individual and suggest appropriate course content.
- Post-training reinforcements: In the form of presentations and appraisals.
Traditional LMSes are poised for disruption
To cater to a generation that eats and breathes technology, learning technologies in the past few years have evolved from the simple LMS to smarter, cloud-based systems that make content storage and distribution much easier.
Learning and development is no longer just a commodity, but rather a competitive advantage for firms. This evolution has been fueled by the rapid progress of AI technologies, which are now capable of bringing real and measurable smarts to enterprise learning platforms.
The transition from LMS platforms to AI-driven learning experience platforms (LXP) is critical to cater to the Gen Z workforce. Rather than simply delivering a training program, these platforms combine deep learning, machine learning, and natural language processing to constantly excel on customisability and content discoverability.
They offer a means to overcome the limitations of LMS platforms, such as content adaptability, author rights and more, to make content engaging and interactive for the learner.
Most importantly, an AI-based LXP eases the process of identifying content that works and content that doesn’t and even modifying and delivering altered training modules quickly. Also, these platforms are compatible across devices and operating systems, such as Android, iOS and Windows, giving Gen Z highly personalised information on-the-go.
This is the new era of enterprise learning. Are you ready for it?
About the author
Anuraj Soni is president at Magic FinServ and KEA.