How Millennials Are Changing the Way We're Training New Employees

By: Carrie McFarland on August 12, 2015

Tablet training new employees

In October 2014, Apple announced it had sold 225 million iPads since the device’s introduction in 2010 (has it really only been five years?).

U.S. Census Bureau data has determined that millennials, adults ages 18-34 in 2015, total 53.5 million employees in the American workforce, more than any other current generation. In a decade, the same group will number 75 million to become the largest single generation of U.S. workers in history.

Do the math and you see why the time is right for improving the ways companies are training new employees.

Although technology advancements in the workplace are popular with older generations who appreciate better training and smoother onboarding, emerging solutions such as tablet-based training stand to make their greatest impact on millennials, who spent their entire work lives (if not their entire lives) with smartphones, touchscreens, and the Internet. Training new employees has never been so easy, so effective, or so efficient as it is with platforms utilizing iPad or Surface. Here are some ways how this revolution is occurring:

Streamlined Onboarding

Twenty years ago, the employee onboarding process could take an entire day, if not a whole week. Hires filled out forms, studied training manuals in some back office or storeroom, watched embarrassingly overproduced corporate training videos on a VCR—all without ever seeing the floor for practical learning and actual work. These employees were already bored by their new jobs before really starting it, which created negative impressions and increased turnover. Training employees with tablets cuts down on time and gets hires to a productive place much faster. Workers can learn processes on iPad or Surface wherever convenient, including on the floor or in the field, where they will be directly applying the training. Furthermore, hires can watch videos on tablets—not the slick, disaffected videos that are painful to experience, but practical, up-to-date videos that get to the teaching quickly without attempting to “entertain” the viewer.

Appealing Technology

As already mentioned, millennials are proficient with today’s technology, perhaps more than any other generation of workers has been with current devices or any other tech of their respective eras. Training new employees on iPad or Surface is more than just a novelty: It’s a logical application of technology they know and understand. When presented with this approach, millennials are more apt to embrace the training they might have otherwise resisted, if not outright shunned, via traditional methods. They engage sooner and with more gusto, thus increasing the odds they will stick with their new jobs and be more productive.

Direct Messages, Encouraged Collaboration

More than any other generation of workers, millennials want to be part of the process, want their voices heard, and want to collaborate rather than blindly follow orders. Training new employees with this in mind creates engaged workers from the get-go. Tablet-based training solutions facilitate this process by allowing hires to send messages directly from the iPad or Surface, at any time during the training process. For example, say a new employee watches a training video and is befuddled by one aspect of it. He or she can send a message, via the tablet, directly to the manager, supervisor, or exec charged with answering such questions. A dialogue begins, and collaboration might even ensue. This is on-the-job learning before the employee is actually on the job, and it’s a powerful approach to training new employees.

What part of training new employees is most challenging for your company?

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