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January 8, 2020

Gen Z at Work: The Future of eLearning for the New Workplace

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Demographics in the workplace are constantly shifting, and it's time for learning and development teams to begin thinking about Gen Z at work. The generation born after 1996 is now the youngest member of today's four-generation workforce. Gathering insights into generational differences can help you support Gen Z learning at your organization.

What motivates Gen Z to learn?

Members of Gen Z at work are motivated to learn for career payoff. According to a LinkedIn survey, their primary motivation is financial compensation. Nearly 60% would learn to earn a higher salary or a bonus, while 46% say they would spend more time learning to get a promotion.

Compared to older generations, Gen Z isn't afraid of digging into hard coursework. Hard skills are more important than soft skills to 62% of this cohort, per LinkedIn. This could be especially true when science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning activities have a clear potential for a monetary reward or career advancement.

Gen Z prefers on-demand eLearning & short videos

The Netflix generation is used to streaming content on demand, including eLearning. Nearly half of Gen Z wants a fully independent approach to learning where they can self-direct their activities, the LinkedIn study found.

However, don't confuse self-directed eLearning with total independence. Collaboration and feedback matter. According to Inc., 60% of Gen Z wants to touch base with their managers several times weekly, and 90% puts a high value on social connection in the workplace.

YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are the most popular social media platforms for Gen Zers, Forbes reported. Members of Gen Z view YouTube as a search engine to answer questions and learn new skills, and even stream videos to destress. It may be wise to mimic YouTube's wild success to take advantage of the demographic's preference for short visual content.

Designing an LMS experience for Gen Z

Members of Gen Z may have grown up with smartphones and streaming services, but they're not all tech-savvy. In fact, they're used to simple user interfaces and apps to get answers on demand.

Tailoring your learning management system experience to Gen Z should make it simple for learners to access information anytime and anyplace. The LMS should support Zers' preference for multimedia content, self-directed learning and feedback.

Short videos

Gen Z may watch dozens of videos per day, but Forbes reported they watch fewer total hours of media than older demographics. Long-form video content probably isn't the best way to cater to the Snapchat generation. Build a robust library of short-form content and tutorials to provide answers as they're needed. Break learning modules into short video segments that are easily viewable on a smartphone.

Instant feedback

"Make feedback high-tech and high-touch," Inc. recommended. An LMS experience tailored to Gen Z at work should provide real-time insight into L&D progress and opportunities for learners to engage with their goals and managers on demand.

Reward

Money-motivated, ambitious members of Gen Z will dive into learning if there's evidence of potential payoff. Showcase learner profiles to demonstrate how L&D can result in a promotion or exciting new career pathways. Create opportunities for Gen Z at work to earn certifications, and tie L&D to bonuses and compensation structures when possible.

Build professional confidence for Gen Z

Gen Z may be the most college-educated generation to date, but they're nervous about going to work. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports that Gen Z feels unprepared and anxious. An LMS experience targeted to this demographic's preferences can instill professional confidence in the youngest workers.