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How to deliver learning for graduates in a hybrid world

Article by Charlotte Burton-Barker

Gen-Z graduates coming into your business place more emphasis on learning and development opportunities than any generation before them. Our latest Wiser Academy survey explored the motivations of Gen-Z at work and found that over half of this generation see investment in personal and professional development as the most important factor when deciding on an employer. 

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and their employees are typically working in a hybrid way. This includes the way that they deliver their training; a recent ISE survey found 71% of onboarding training sessions are still delivered remotely. 

The drive for learning is high and this generation is becoming increasingly aware of how to learn in different ways. The graduates coming into your business now have grown up in a consistently connected world. They’re fast paced, self-learners who are used to exploring what they need to know themselves (aka, the Google generation). 

So how can you make sure your learning programmes are super engaging and impactful for your graduates in this hybrid world? 

There are three key things you need to consider: 

Create in-person spaces – encouraging human connection
The switch to virtual has so many great benefits and the grads entering your company now have been brought up in this digital era and are the most skilled at using all the tech at hand. However, they still need in-person spaces. Training once might have looked like a five day fully in-person training programme, but that isn’t the right fit any more either. What we do need is the trust and connections that come from in-person learning spaces. Something as simple as the first and last modules happening in-person can make a huge difference to the engagement, vulnerability and willingness to speak up throughout a programme. So, make sure not to ditch your in-person sessions completely even if you’re dealing with tech savvy graduates. 

Think small
The social media platforms that exist now mean that early career talent coming into organisations are used to small snippets of information on demand. Make use of the online platforms you have at hand (whether that is email or an LMS) and give small short bursts of information to your grads. This is a great way to keep them learning in a way that suits them. At Google they’ve introduced “whispers” where managers across the organisation are given nudge emails with a new technique they can try out that day. Use a similar approach with your grads to reinforce module learning or introduce them to new topics. 

It’s all about the visuals
Related to the last point, this generation of learners have access to online platforms that are consistently heavy on well-curated visual content. Therefore, to make your learning land and to make it engage this audience – think about how it looks (whether you are thinking about your slides for your in-person presentation, or the online module you’ve asked them to complete). Rather than old school clipart, actual images tend to work better when drawing the attention of a Gen-Z audience who are driven by aesthetics. If you are going to send out a nudge email, make sure it looks good! 

To get the best from your graduate population in a hybrid world you should include a blend of in-person opportunities and make use of virtual platforms that meet the needs of this generation. Recognising the different learning styles of this generation will help you to make sure your learning programmes really land. 

    Charlotte is the Programmes Manager at Wiser, where she builds and develops Early Talent Development Programmes to ensure organisation's get the best from their Graduates, Apprentices and Early Talent cohorts. Her background is in Organisational Psychology and she uses her knowledge in this area to inform the design and delivery of her work.

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