Today, there are 4 generations sharing the workforce, with Millennials holding 1 out of 3 jobs in America. By 2025, more than 75% of the workforce will be made up of Millennials. And you need to know how to train them. The good news is that they are seeking out MORE training opportunities in the workplace. Only 20% receive the training they need — and cyber security & data protection skills are things they need!

Here are our top tips for reaching your young and hungry workforce.

Allow for a push and pull of information. Millennials were brought up on the web and therefore think differently. In the words of Piotr Czerski, a Polish writer and self-described Millennial,  “The ability to find information is to us something as basic as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you… We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility.” They know how to find information when they need it, so let them. Do not just push content out to your users; create a place where they can easily find and access information such as training videos, policy PDFs, how-to infographics, monthly newsletters, etc. Make it easy to find the information so their brains can focus on absorbing the material and time is not wasted on trying to navigate a cumbersome intranet.

Leverage technology. Millennials grew up with technology and the internet. They “do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to [them] is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. [They] do not use the Internet, [they] live on the Internet and along side it.” Have a company intranet? Use it! Create a private Facebook group to encourage cyber savvy discussion and dialogue. If any of your training content can be mobile-ready, make it so.

Create compelling content. While Millennials are reported as wanting MORE training, there’s a disconnect between the training they want and the training they receive. They do want quantity, but not without quality. Your content needs to be excellent, fresh, modern, appropriate, and fun. Back in 2012, a study was done that found that Millennials switch between media types 27 times per hour; they will not be satisfied with old fashioned click-through-read-listen-quiz style elearning modules. They want bright, interesting graphics; edgy narration that grabs them with humor or startling information; a casual blog-like vibe; highly interactive content to keep them engaged and participating (see more below). Remember that users learn more when interesting graphics accompany audio or text, and they retain “90% “if they do the job themselves, even if only as a simulation.“

Provide feedback. Sometimes criticized for needing to be hand-held, Millennials crave feedback. Negative feedback and criticism is important for growth and to correct behavior, but positive feedback is too often overlooked. Reward your employees for a job well done, for exhibiting security aware behavior, for completing additional non-mandatory training. Provide a road map for improvements, offering coaching/mentoring/more training along the way and stating your expectations very clearly.

Create frequent, regular micro learning opportunities throughout the year. Millennials are anything but complacent. They know they need to constantly improve their skills and know-how to remain competitive in the workforce, but they also want to learn at their own pace. So you, their employer, should provide them with ample opportunities to improve their security sense! Create a video library of short, focused, entertaining videos about cyber security that they can access whenever they want to from their phones (remember: the most successful videos on YouTube are all under 3 minutes). Create funny, short, interactive elearning modules they can take at the start or end of the day. Set up a discussion board in your company intranet that can be easily accessed via mobile devices where they can talk about the training. Release podcast versions of your training courses that they can listen to while they work out or drive to work. Millennials are non-linear learners and prefer information in small chunks. Did we mention keeping things short?

Utilize games and gamified techniques. 97% of America’s children play video games and Millennials grew up playing video games. 79% of employees agree that they would be more productive and motivated if their learning environments were more like games. Points and levels can dramatically boost engagement and improve retention. The earning of rewards “trigger[s] the release of dopamine, a hormone in the brain that encourages us to explore and try new things.

Ashley Schwartau

Director of Production & Creative Development at SAC
After more than 15 years of working in this industry, she’s finally accepted – and embraced! – the fact that she’s a security awareness expert. She is also a book-loving, travel-blogging, French-speaking Gryffindor who is unapologetically obsessed with her cats.