Organizations of all kinds are now finding that they easily have four generations of employees employed in their workforce. While this certainly adds an element of diversity in age difference to a company, it may also add some challenges. Meeting the training needs of employees who have such differences in their own background of learning requires recognition of these differences and a blended learning approach to training.
Four Generations of Adult Learners
The four generations of adult learners in today's workforce have a variety of differences that are unique to their specific age group. While it's certainly not indicative of every person in a group, the generalities are helpful when planning training activities.
There are no precise dates for when each generation starts and ends, but there is a general ballpark that includes:
- Veterans (born between 1924-1945)
- Baby Boomers(born between 1946-1964)
- Generation X(born between 1965-1980)
- Generation Y (born between 1981-2000)
Individuals born in this generation had their lives shaped by the Great Depression, World War II, and the immediate years following. As a result, they tend to be hard working, loyal, and great savers. It's no surprise that this group tends to be good communicators, collaborators, and strong interpersonal skills.
Born during a time of great political and social change in this country, Baby Boomers are often recognized as being "nonconformist". Following on the heels of the generation that saved every penny, Baby Boomers found the desire for living life more conveniently and buying without saving. This is a time when washing machines, microwaves, and credit cards became popular.
Unlike the political and social changes of the previous generation, individuals born in Generation X tend to be more highly educated with a desire to balance work and family. This is the generation that is willing to work hard to have it all. This group wants to find solutions to problems like social injustice, AIDS, and tolerance for differences.
Generation Y is also known as the Millennials. As children of Generation X, this group grew up when technology really started changing the world. These teens grew up with the internet being readily available in schools and computers being commonplace.
Blended Learning Solution
As a result of some very basic generational differences, it's easy to see why employees birth dates may affect who they are as adults and how they learn. Recognizing these characteristics and utilizing a blended learning instructional design for training activities increases the likelihood of positive training results. Those who grew up learning with a computer in the classroom might be more comfortable with independent eLearning activities than someone who graduated high school having never touched one. Using video, interactive quizzes, and some independent self study can help meet the needs of these groups of learners. At the end of the day, your goal is simply to help people learn what you need to teach.