Organizations today need to cater to five generations of workers, not so much in terms of age but more in terms of the differences in their expectations and values. More specifically, it is the division based on the digital proficiency of employees in an organization. Sooner or later, senior management needs to take note that employees cannot be divided based as Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y or millennials but more based on how comfortable they are with digital technologies. This is going to influence the way they carry on their business on the job.
At least this is what R “Ray” Wang, Principle Analyst, Founder, and Chairman of Constellation Research, Inc. believes. He divided the five generations of workers, based on their proficiency levels in terms of digital literacy. His five generations of workers include:
- Digital natives: Those who grew up with the Internet, comfortable in engaging in all digital channels.
- Digital immigrants: Those who have crossed the chasm to the digital world, forced into engagement in digital channels.
- Digital voyeurs: People who recognize the shift to digital, observing from an arm’s length distance.
- Digital holdouts: People who resist the shift to digital, ignoring the impact.
- Digital disengaged: People who give up on digital, obsessed with erasing digital exhaust.
(Source: R Wang, Constellation Research, Inc.)
In short, Mr. Wang suggests that organizations should focus on digital proficiency and not age when rethinking work and this is relevant to training just as any other function in an organization.
So, what could this mean to Learning and Development professionals who would be training workforce that constitutes these 5 different digital generations?
At a very broad level, we can no longer standardize one training and assume that it will cater to the training needs of all employees. We need to accept and acknowledge the fact that people interact and use digital technologies at different levels and therefore training also has to be at different levels.
In the context of eLearning, training has to be provided to employees with varying digital literacy levels. While some employees prefer a more traditional face to face training, there are others who wish to have access to knowledge while on the move through their smartphones or tablets. There are others who are between the two extremes. How do you cater to such a varied demand? Do you have any ideas? Please share them below.