Learning distinct characteristics, learning preferences and technology

Learning Preferences & Differences at Workplaces in India: Baby Boomers, Generation X & Millennials

 

Aman Jain

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Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Management, Kashipur

 

Abstract

 

The new age workplace has multiple demographic changes challenging organizations to upskill/ upgrade their employees across career stages and develop them based on the organizations key goals and developmental areas for all the generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y/ Millennials) presently available at workplace. Different learning and development activities with technology integrated methods can be of great help to address the same in a short span of time. However, types of trainings, interventions that might benefit intergenerational groups needs to be identified based on respective generations’ characteristics, learning styles and technology cohesiveness for technology integrated learning methodologies. Relevance, Feasibility and Learning Impact to an individual and the organization are important parameters to designing and delivering different interventions.

 

Over a span of 3 months, we conducted 30 interviews in metro cities in India (Bangalore, Hyderabad & Delhi) involving working professionals belonging to Millennials (22 to 35 years), Generation X (36 to 48 years) and Baby Boomers (more than 48 years) cohorts of various IT & ITES companies/ organizations. Our findings show that both generations possess distinct characteristics, learning preferences and technology friendliness/ cohesiveness.

 

We integrate these into a framework to form a conceptual model that learning and development practitioners can use to improvise their learning strategies in their respective organizations in a form that suits the needs of the organization.

 

 

Introduction

 

In organizations today, generational phenomena may manifest in many ways and have varied consequences (Joshi, Dencker, Franz, & Martocchio, 2010). Research has focused on the behavioural characteristics commonly demonstrated by the Millennials and other generations (Eddy, Schweitzer, & Lyons, 2010) (Myers & Sadaghiani, 2010). However, changes in learning styles, preferences and mechanisms and technology friendliness/ cohesiveness of each of the generations at workplace today have not been extensively researched. Developing this insight is critical for learning and development professionals and instructional designers. This will help practitioners in creating effective training modules and programs to enable employees from across generations be successful at the workplace.

 

 

Generation

Period

Current Age (youngest)

Other Names

Typical Characteristics/ Behavioral Patterns

Traditionalists

1945 & before

70+

Veterans, Silent, Radio Boomers, The Forgotten Generation

Conformers, Dedication, Sacrifice, Duty before pleasure, Discipline, Patience, Loyalty

Baby Boomers

1946 to 1964

52+

Moral Authority, “Me” Generation

Anti-government, Equal Opportunities & Rights, Personal Gratification,

Gen X

1965 to 1981

35+

The Doers, Post Boomers

Balance, Diversity, Entrepreneurial, Fun, Highly Educated

Millennials

1982 to 2000

16+

Gen Y, Gen Next, Echo Boomers

Self-confident, Sociability, Diversity, Extreme fun, Extremely techno savvy, Extremely spiritual, Now!

Centennials

2001 onwards