Instructional Design

How To Motivate Millennials In Online Training: Top 9 Tips For eLearning Professionals

top tips to motivate millennials in online training

The new workforce has arrived; meet the Millennials, who were born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, during technological change and globalization, and, as the largest generation in the world history, have already shown a sample of their huge impact on the global economy.

The Millennials, or Generation Y, are the first generation of digital natives; they are passionate and unconventional, and their life priorities, work preferences, and set of behaviors are different from their parents’.

Or their employers’, for that matter, who are more likely to be Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) or members of the Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979) than Millennials themselves. Millennials expect their work to be not only enjoyable, but also an opportunity for professional as well as personal development.

Given that every successful organization embraces a dynamic, multi-generational workforce, it is of utmost importance that Millennials are motivated to greater performance, no matter how challenging the motivation process is.

Motivate Millennials in online training

In this article, I’ll share 9 top tips to motivate Millennials in online training so that you can ensure not only that you are supporting them to meet their high expectations, but also that this exceptional part of your workforce is working at their full productivity.

1. Turn theory into practice by stressing the real world value of the online training experience.

Millennials are idealistic, yet pragmatic. They are not very fond of generic, theoretical approaches; instead, they want to get things done. To transfer knowledge from theory to practice in your online training course, consider focusing on the development of skills that your millennial employees can implement right away; tie the subject matter into real life challenges by integrating scenarios that offer real world benefits and include examples that are relevant to Millennials’ culture and values.Millennials need to know that there is a purpose to what they are doing, otherwise they probably won’t be motivated to learn.

You need to emphasize the real world applications and benefits of the online training course right from the start, so that they are able to clearly see the value of the eLearning experience. Also, include a story that illustrates how they can put their knowledge to use in the real world. Make sure to include the real world benefits of taking the eLearning course in your description and syllabus, as well as reminding them of these benefits all throughout the eLearning course to increase their motivation.

Furthermore, a blended learning approach will introduce your young employees to the corporate world in an interesting as well as effective way.Consider bringing in influential speakers for leadership seminars and conferences that focus on soft skills development, such as active listening and effective team work, and creating online training courses that focus on hard skills, such as specific knowledge and abilities required for their jobs.

Professional development and putting what they are learning to use are top priorities for Millennials; thus, it is of utmost importance that you offer them the opportunity to see how growing their skills will help them contribute to the organization’s success right away.

2. Include self-guided eLearning activities that empower millennial learners.

Empowerment is key for the millennial generation. Give Millennials opportunities to solve problems autonomously. Millennials like to solve problems on their own terms. So, give them the opportunity to solve problems and overcome challenges autonomously.

Give them control of their own eLearning experience by creating self-guided eLearning activities that allow for exploration. Equip them with the tools they need and then let them figure out how to use these tools to their advantage. Instead of walking them step by step through a process, for instance, provide them with the key pieces of information they need to succeed, and let them choose which eLearning activities they complete and when in order to boost their motivation and engagement.

Millennials prefer independence and autonomy. By giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions you are empowering them to be lifelong learners.

3. Let them track their own progress.

This particular tip is actually two-fold. Firstly, you can give them the ability to track their progress on a smaller scale by providing an eLearning course map in the beginning that features a progress bar, so that they are able to see how far they’ve come.

On a larger scale, you can give them the chance to track their personal and professional goal development by encouraging them to create goals in the beginning and then providing progress checks throughout the eLearning course. You can also include assessments that let them know how they are performing, as well as branching scenarios and simulations that put their skills and knowledge into practice.

4. Offer regular and constructive feedback.

For a generation who has grown up with social media, the huge importance of feedback is absolutely justifiable. Millennials are feedback addicts; they crave it, and without it they feel without direction.

Quenching their thirst for feedback will both fuel their motivation and help you collect valuable data for your online training course’s evaluation. Offer your millennial employees eLearning activities that allow them to make errors in a risk free environment and thus learn from their mistakes, such as interactive eLearning games or role-play eLearning scenarios, and give them regular, honest feedback as often as possible.

Don’t wait until the end of the eLearning course; continuous feedback means continuous growth and improvement, especially for young employees, as it makes them feel not only noticed, but also valued. Millennials, as a general rule, like encouragement and constructive feedback, but it’s only truly effective if you offer it immediately.

Even something as simple as praise or other intangible rewards can give them the extra motivation they need to successfully complete the eLearning course. Positively reinforce favorable learning behaviors by presenting your millennial learners with rewards sparingly, and give encouragement to those who may be struggling with a subject. Recognize hard work, reward great performance, and inspire your millennial employees to stay interested while they are learning.

5. Make your online training interesting.

Most people become more easily engaged in fun activities; however, if you want to motivate Millennials, it is absolutely critical that you create a pleasurable atmosphere, as they get easily bored. A “pleasurable atmosphere” doesn’t mean throwing a party every time your young employees complete a training module; rather, that you need to ensure that your eLearning content is interactive, and offers a great sense of involvement and engagement.

Forget heavy text for your Millennials’ training; focus on strong visuals, such as compelling images and videos, interesting audio elements, clever animations, and avatars. Appearance matters to this generation more than they did to their predecessors; not because they are superficial, but because they have grown up in a digital world where visual forms are stronger than ever and first impressions are crucial.

Thus, make sure that you keep their interest by providing them with as many high quality illustrative media as you can, as well as frequent breaks with mini tests and casual exercises to ensure knowledge retention.

6. Personalize Millennials skill set development.

Research your millennial audience by conducting surveys, focus groups, and interviews to determine what they need to know and what they expect from the online training course. This will give you the ability to create eLearning courses, which cater to their specific needs and develop skillsets that they require in everyday life.

Not only will this boost their competency, but it will make them feel more connected and engaged. If they know that they are going to be able to fine tune skills they’ll need to advance in their careers, they are going to be more motivated to learn.

7. Encourage collaboration.

Since they were in kindergarten, Millennials have been used to learning with others. For more than two decades now, schools have been using ideas sharing, discussions, and group work as learning tools.

Additionally, your millennial employees are spending most of their time online, where they are constantly interacting with their friends and peers via messages, online chats, and posts on all social media available. Engaging in several online communities and cultivating social awareness are extremely important to Millennials; so make sure that you satisfy their need for involvement by creating an interactive virtual classroom and encouraging them to participate in online discussions where they can communicate with each other and share their ideas, questions, and concerns freely.

Integrating social learning into your online training program and having your audience interacting with each other online will not only keep them happy, and thus motivated, but also offer you great feedback about their progress.

8. Offer more flexibility.

The idea of flexible online training is not new; the vast majority of your employees are usually on the go and mobile learning, when accessible from all mobile devices, is key for ensuring that your audience is staying connected with your eLearning course anywhere, anytime.

Millennials are familiar and comfortable with mobile learning, and typically use their mobile phones and tablets to access information more so than desktops or laptops. It is, however, important to keep mobile learning bite sized and easily digestible, bearing in mind that on-the-go millennials probably won’t have much time to access the eLearning content.

Make it relevant and offer real value, such as teaching them a necessary skill or focusing on a problem that they may encounter every day. For lengthy lessons, break them down into smaller modules that learners can complete in just a few minutes, so that they are more likely to participate and retain the knowledge they learn.

In order to motivate Millennials you must take full advantage of this great eLearning practice of offering them on-the-go learning: your young employees are certainly more enthusiastic about working outside their offices than their older colleagues, as they deeply value work-life balance. In other words, they will take every opportunity to avoid sitting at a desk all day, as they would happily sacrifice pay for the ability to work from anywhere with an Internet connection, but their office.

Now, your company may not encourage such work behavior; unfortunately, it needs to adjust. Millennial employees are not lazy; they just believe that life is more important than work, and when given the freedom to choose their work conditions, they feel more engaged, more in control, and more motivated to take initiative and be creative as well as highly productive.

It is a quid pro quo, a fair exchange, really, so don’t hesitate to put your trust in them; they will return the favor and use their great proficiency at multi-tasking to your company’s advantage.

9. Focus on your company’s vision, goals, and outcomes.

Everybody dislikes bureaucracy, but Millennials really hate it. The more clearly your organization communicates its priorities and goals, the more motivated will be your millennial employees to contribute to its success. This generation doesn’t care about vague concepts and intricate procedures; they are interested in meaning.

Value their emotional intelligence and share the big picture with them. Explain your organization’s vision and why their work matters. Show them that their individual contribution is critical to the company’s success and that their online training is a means to not only improve their careers, but also achieve personal growth and development.

In other words, use intrinsic motivators to motivate Millennials instead of extrinsic ones, such as promising promotions and salary raises. To successfully communicate your company’s vision and goals follow a custom eLearning approach for your online training program, as aligning your eLearning courses with your brand will create a much deeper connection between the company and millennial employees and thus motivate them to achieve organizational objectives.

By using these tips you can create motivational and meaningful training experiences for your millennial corporate learners. Given that millennials are expected to make up roughly half of the workforce by 2020, creating training that caters to their specific needs is critical.

Now that you know how to motivate Millennials in online training, you may be interested in learning more about creating a highly motivational eLearning experience. Read the article How To Create A Motivational eLearning Experience: 6 Tips For eLearning Professionals and discover how you can take full advantage of the most powerful weapon eLearning professionals can have: learner motivation.

  • Bob Fratini

    I am squarely in the Boomer generation, and I’m offended by the title and positioning of this article. All of the suggestions are valid and appropriate for learners of ALL generations. Perhaps Boomers are more inclined to politely endure poorly-designed training that wastes their time, or Millenials are more likely to vote with their feet and just walk out (or leave the boring eLearning running in a minimized window). If it takes Millenials to make L&D types provide all of their learners with flexible, learner-driven experiences, well, I guess I’ll have to thank my kids.

  • Linda Kernahan

    Excellent article, very useful in understanding a growing segment of our training audience. Thank you.

  • Chris Blanch

    Excellent link, this article certainly covers off on what we all should be doing as eLearn facilitators, point 5 only begins to list the live online learning activities (LOLAs) that are essential to engaging your online learners.
    Thank you for sharing Derek

  • Hana

    Surely Millenials have to be treated differently from us Boomers. Nice article and lots of useful information.

  • sue smith

    Excellent article

  • margarate ruth

    Fabulous….!!! The Article is good..

  • online training courses

    It is a greatly help for me this link Very good article .

  • Ruth Veronika

    Nice Blog..!!

  • Very well written and easy to understand.