It’s a simple fact that our manufacturing workforce will soon be made up almost entirely of millennials. In fact, we expect Gen Xers (born between 1961 and 1980) to be almost completely phased out of the global workforce by 2040.
In our last post, we described the onboarding process for a new generation of workers. We talked about the best way to get a new and different generation ready for work in the manufacturing industry, and how to continuously engage them throughout their time on the shop floor.
But these strategies for continuous improvement are only effective if they’re delivered in a way that makes sense to the users. We’ll dive a little deeper into the best practices that allow us to effectively develop information design for the Millennial workforce.
Who are Millennials and what do they need?
Despite the fact that millennials already comprise a large portion of the global deskless workforce, a number of negative stereotypes precedes them.
People think they’re lazy.
People say that they’re self absorbed.
But in reality, these labels are fiction. It may come as a surprise, but recent studies demonstrate that the millennial generation actually works more than the average amount!
- 73% of Millennials and Post-Millennials work more than 40 hours a week.
- Compared to their older colleagues, they feel a greater sense of shame about taking time off for vacations and personal time. Source.
Behavior associated with self-absorption (a preoccupation with social media and electronic devices) actually suggests that that millennials are addicted to the enhanced connectivity and shared social experiences this media delivers.
More than 70% of those Millennials and Post-Millennials want the people they work with to function as a second family and are largely considered more emotionally and psychologically mature than generation X.
This is a generation of hard working digital natives that responds best to information delivered in a crowd sourced and easily accessible format.
Below, we’ve gathered a number of tips and best practices that will allow you to design and deliver content in a way that makes sense to the Millennial Workforce.
Nine actionable tips.
These tips will help you and your teams deliver any type of functional information within the context of a professional work environment.
1. Keep it bite sized.
Millennials are used to absorbing a large amount of information because of their reliance on a multitude of digital mediums and tools. However, human brains are still only able to process a limited amount of information at a time. This is even more relevant for this generation, as a reliance on technology as a transactive memory becomes more prevalent.
Our recommendation is to use a method known as “chunking.” This process describes separating many units of information into a limited number of units or chunks, so that the information is easier to process and remember. A great way to do this is through visually distinct tasks and instructions.
2. Use lists.
Lists are concise, convenient and completely relatable to how your workforce experiences the world today. From apps to listicles, the Millennial generation is accustomed to processing information in a list format.
Lists require less decision making and processing time from the user and are especially practical in a time sensitive environment such as the factory floor.
Make sure to keep lists simple and concise, arrange them in a logical and actionable order, and avoid repeating the same word over and over.
3. Simple words.
Millennials were raised in an era of too much information. Advertisements, the internet, and a million daily choices mean that this is a demographic that values getting to the point. Your information design should reflect this fact.
Simple words and language help clarify tasks and avoid confusion on the shop floor, and we advise manufacturers to take this into consideration when delivering information to the millennial workforce - or anyone working in an environment that values efficiency and clarity.
4. Visualize Data.
Visual media is processed faster and more effectively than written media. Combine this with the fact that millennials have been raised in an age where data has always been visualized, it makes sense that they would rely on quality data visualizations to process information during their work.
Remember, the data is only as good as your delivery. We recommend to focus on the metrics that matter most in the moment, and to deliver the desired results first. This ensures that the information you provide is easily scannable and usable to the recipient.
Generation X was largely raised on difficult to read fonts and typefaces that were translated from typewriters to computer programs. However, we’ve since learned that our eyes read fonts on a digital interface much differently than they do on paper.
Choose a sans-serif font with simple, rounded edges and a clean design to improve information recall and actionability. These small changes have a subtle but powerful impact for a generation taught to process information in the digital age.
For teams on the shop floor, an easy-to-read font can make a world of difference in SOPs and work instructions and can help prevent the confusion that often leads to expensive downtime and human errors.
In order to deliver information in an actionable and productive way, we need to carefully control the experience through which the users receive this information. Creating information that’s intuitively discoverable and usable happens during the content creation process, and generally consists of two steps.
- Story mapping - Use a mapping tool to define and map each unit of information along with the desired outcome. This allows your teams to have a holistic view of the content, and better understand and control the user journey of the recipients.
- Interaction design - For most digital tools, this step has already been executed by UX and UI designers. On a platform like SwipeGuide, the digital interface has been optimized to make discovering and acting upon each step of an SOP or work instruction as user-friendly as possible.
A carefully planned information journey, combined with the right menus, buttons, and corresponding text can make all the difference in information design for the digital native.
7. Indicators and notifications.
We’re all accustomed to the “little red dots” in our lives. These indicators and notifications signal that something needs to be checked or accomplished in whatever task we have before us. Millennials have been born and raised with this concept, and it’s important to use notifications in a way that creates excitement and encourages productivity - rather than hinders it.
Don’t use notifications in a way that overloads the user with information (think about an unread email tab) or pushes users towards an area of your platform unrelated to the task at hand.
Instead, use notifications to create real value for users. The “little red dot” should deliver relevant information and take the user through journeys that add to their experiences and help accomplish their daily work.
The human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. In fact, around 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. When implementing information design on a digital platform, we can use this to our advantage.
Combine clear visuals with concise text for increased effectiveness. And be sure that when introducing visual media into an existing platform, stay consistent to a cohesive visual identity to avoid confusion and distraction.
9. Voice interfaces.
When executed well, a voice interface can be a powerful tool in a manufacturing application. Machine operators and field service engineers can access and interact with information in situations where their hands might otherwise be impaired.
However, when executed poorly, voice interfaces can be frustrating and counterproductive for users. Always consider the physical environment of your users - if there is a lot of loud machinery or other background noise, voice interfaces might not be the right solution.
A real impact on learning and effectiveness.
Because of the uniquely digital circumstances in which they were raised, the millennial and post millennial generations are uniquely equipped to process higher levels of information than any other generation. As they continue to integrate with our manufacturing workforce, this means that work can happen faster and more efficiently than ever before.
But in order to get the most out of this creative, empathic, and tech savvy deskless workforce, we need to reimagine information design in a way that makes sense and reacts to their needs.
On the shop floor, this means delivering SOPs and work instructions with an intuitive platform that incorporates effective design into its structure. Make sure to explore our features and read up on our instructional design philosophy.
Want to learn more about information design in Industry 4.0? Click here to check out our webinar, Information Design for the Millennial Workforce, hosted by Digital Transformation Expert and SwipeGuide CEO Willemijn Schneyder.