Engaging Millennials in the Workplace using Mobile Learning

Shauna Carson

Doesn't it seem like everyone is glued to their phones these days? Chances are, you have already noticed this, and seen the value of incorporating mobile learning, or mLearning, into your training program. As such, this article will be more than a simple examination of mobile learning and how it can benefit your organization. Rather, it will explore how you can optimise this eLearning platform in order to specifically engage one key demographic - millennials.

Who is a millennial?

The millennial generation can be roughly defined as those born between 1978 and 2004; typically, they came to adulthood in the first part of the 21st century.

Though there is necessarily a huge variation between individual members of a generation, there are certain environmental aspects that can be useful in defining how millennials most effectively learn and communicate.

Consider that millennials are the first generation to come of age in an electronics-filled world, and have been early and enthusiastic adopters of online learning and various social media networks. For the most part, they are comfortable learning in different environments and in different ways than older generations.

So, what does this mean when we look at mobile learning?

What is mobile learning?

Mobile learning is a valuable resource in your training program toolkit, as it allows learners to access the information they need wherever and whenever they choose. According to a 2017 report, mobile data traffic has grown 18-fold over the past 5 years. Moreover, average smartphone usage grew 38% in 2016.

To capitalise on this upward trend, many organizations have already started incorporating mLearning into their training.

But merely incorporating mobile learning isn't always enough. Is your organization doing everything it can to target the specific learning needs of your audience?

Let's take a closer look at how millennials learn, and how you can use mobile learning to better engage them.

How do millennials learn?

There is a widespread perception that millennials are lazy, entitled, and disengaged; people look at the selfies, the Instagram posts, the oversharing on Facebook, and think these activities define a generation.

However, there is a strong disconnect between how millennials view themselves, and how they are viewed.

While 82% of millennials say they are loyal to their company, only 1% of HR professionals would say the same. Additionally, 86% of millennials self-describe as hard-working, with only11% of HR professionals saying the same.

This understanding gap can perhaps be explained by the fact that older generations simply don't know how millennials learn best. Millennials like to learn in a certain environment. They appreciate personalized experiences that allow them to use their creativity and learn in a way that makes them feel most comfortable.

Considering that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2030, it is time to forget unfair stereotypes and embrace these learning differences. With this in mind, how can you, as an organization, optimise your mobile learning to best appeal to these learners?

5 tips to engage millennials through mobile learning

  1. Use bite-sized learning

Are attention spans really getting shorter? That's up for debate, but what we know for sure is that there is increased competition for that attention than ever before.

Millennials accessing training via their smartphone are also contending with email and social media notifications, calls and texts or the whole world wide web at their fingertips.

Engage your millennial learners by delivering bite-sized nuggets of information (ie. small learning activities they can complete in 5 minutes or less) they can easily incorporate into their day.

  1. Convey relevant information

Millennials know their way around online research, and are better able than most to use search engines like Google to find out what they need to know.

To truly engage millennials in the learning experience, you need to make sure that you are giving them information that is relevant and will help them perform their day-to-day responsibilities, otherwise they won't see the point of accessing the training in the first place.

Many millennials are impatient learners, and mobile learning forces you to pare down the information you want to convey to its most useful essence, engaging your learners without losing their interest. Design your mobile training program so you:

  • Convey need-to-know information
  • Focus on one learning objective at a time
  • Design for visual clarity
  • Keep navigation simple
  1. Leverage social media

Millennials spend, on average, more than 5 hours a day on social media platforms.

Use mLearning to engage them in their training by incorporating features such as Open Badges. Open Badges allow learners to track their achievements, as well as share them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or wherever they are spending their time.

Since social media is so important to millennials, don't fight it; find a way to leverage that interest to better engage them in their training.

  1. Think outside the traditional training box

Think about a stereotypical millennial -- always on their phone, texting friends, having multiple conversations at once.

Millennials feel comfortable using their mobile devices to gain information from their peers, so why not create online forums and discussion groups?

These features encourage collaborative learning, something millennials are already familiar with, and better engages them in their training.

  1. Be flexible

Millennials value personalized attention; use mLearning to engage these learners by incorporating features that will get them engaged and keep their interest.


  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Case studies
  • Simple simulations
  • Games
  • Forums
  • Places where they can provide feedback


At the end of the day, millennials aren't that much different from your other learners; they are loyal, and they work hard. The key difference is that they are far more comfortable leveraging all aspects of modern technology, something that extends to their learning. The most important thing you can do as an organization to engage these learners is understand how they like to use technology, and embrace those differences as the strengths that they are.

This article has outlined some key tips that will help you incorporate mobile learning into your learning strategy to better engage this key demographic. Are you ready to find out what SkillBuilder® LMS can do to help? Start a Trial Run Today!

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Shauna Carson

Shauna graduated from the University of Toronto in 2002 with a Master of Arts in English before moving home to Calgary to work in the fast-paced, detail-oriented oil and gas industry. Now certified as a technical writer, Shauna is comfortable writing in a variety of styles, and for a variety of audiences.