Workplace Predilections: The Next Generation (Next Gen)

How do you refer to our youngest generation? Next Gen, Gen Z, iGen, Centennials, and Gen We are all monikers that have been proposed. As they emerge as a presence in the workplace, learning leaders must consider their preferences as well as their potential when designing effective workplace learning, collaboration, and communication experiences. In a recent blog, I described this generation as one that depends heavily on their personal devices for connecting to others. Next Generation employees prefer point-of-need access to information versus a more structured curriculum. They seek out visual, graphical stimuli versus lengthy text.

With that in mind, we need to create experiences and use instructional techniques that sit at the intersection of Next Gen preferences and organizational goals for a more productive digital workplace.

Audience Response

Most high schools, colleges, and universities use mobile apps that encourage interactivity and allow them to monitor individual learner and group pulses, preferences, questions, and trends. This real-time data allows instructors to shift their lesson plan focus mid-stream, if necessary, to address questions and learner confusion. Transferring use of this technology to corporate learning world is a no-brainer. It addresses another workplace need: the ability for learning teams to move from manual to automated methods for collecting, analyzing, and reporting assessment data. Keywords: audience response app, interactive poll, mobile assessment

People We Can Look Up To

According to social recognition firm Globoforce, “Top reasons people stay at their company are meaningful work and their team.” (source) Speakers at professional conferences and forums have historically been those with name recognition; however, there is a growing demand for speakers who are social activists, community organizers, and experts on cutting-edge issues and topics. The Next Gen admires those who are taking bold stands based on shared core values.

Human rights lawyers, journalists, and fresh, new faces running for public office are just a few examples of roles who we are following in droves on social media. Bringing their thought leadership to a corporate setting is a way to humanize our workplace and energize individuals to become more productive. Keywords: social activist, shared values

Create Useful Artwork

Infographics are not an innovative concept, but having learners create them as a practical activity during a workshop is a technique you should experiment with. In a digital workplace, presenting data in a compelling way is a behavior we all must embrace, regardless of generation. There is more data than ever to synthesize, and creating tables will no longer illustrate the trends nor help promote your ideas. Designing and presenting an infographic may be either a team or an individual exercise, and since it is multimodal, it will serve to engage both sides of the brain. Parameters for learners to discuss include:

  • Layout of text, including color, shape, and whitespace consideration
  • Design themes
  • Incorporation of interactive elements (surveys, links, hashtags)

Below are two examples of infographics:

Have teams post and present their work products and request peer and facilitator input on how well the infographic conveys ideas, collects data, and enables real-time decision-making. This activity supports a common organizational goal for more effective presentation of data. Keywords: infographic, data presentation, multimodal learning tools

What workplace preferences, learning-related or otherwise, do your Next Gen employees get excited about? Share your ideas in the Comments below. Thank you!



Ellen Kumar

Ms. Kumar is a Solution Architect with GP Strategies, and has served in roles ranging from Account Executive, to Operations Director, to Project Manager/Training Consultant. Prior to GP Strategies, she worked for University of Dayton Research Institute and GE Aircraft Engines (now GE Aerospace). She holds an M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering from University of Dayton.
2 comments on “Workplace Predilections: The Next Generation (Next Gen)
  1. Jamie Panchal says:

    Hi Ellen

    Thank you for sharing this incredable piece of writing.

    I have recently started my journey within training and facilitation.
    And can see how different enabling and engaging strategies within workshop settings also needed.
    The only thing that I may struggle with his understanding weather in organisation is digital savvy enough to take up some of the digital strategies to help with facilitation, what are your thoughts on this?

    • Ellen Kumar says:

      Hi Jamie: Many organizations struggle with being savvy enough to shift their business, or their learning solutions. I recommend you address the concern by assessing learner needs (as is typical) as well as facilitator/L&D Org needs. As you assess, inquire about their use of instructional technology (tools and platforms that support learning). Ask L&D leaders to rate the organization’s culture when it comes to innovation. Do they tend to be early adopters, or wait until other peers have tested out the bugs? When designing the recommended curriculum, keep all these factors in mind as well as their desired timeline to deploy the new learning solution. That will allow you to recommend an appropriate facilitation strategy. Training the trainers, and allowing customers to co-teach along with 3rd parties may be viable options that also allow for digital facilitation knowledge & skill transfer. If the customer does not have bandwidth internally to co-teach, perhaps you recommend having 3rd parties with the requisite expertise lead sessions for a defined amount of time. All the best as you continue on your digital journey.

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