As workplaces continue to evolve amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for intuitive, efficient employee training at the point of need is growing. One of this year’s workplace predictions, according to Training Industry’s Trends 2022 report, is an increase in learning in the flow of work.
“Learning in the flow of work” refers to easily accessing an answer or a short piece of learning content while you’re working. As the chief executive officer of an accelerated learning firm, I can attest to client preferences shifting away from large, off-site trainings and toward learning experiences that fit seamlessly into employees’ remote workdays.
Rather than “we need to teach X” or “we should produce content related to Y,” workflow learning takes a contextual approach: You start by breaking down the workflow itself into individual tasks and identifying the knowledge needed to perform each task at critical points. To deliver a successful workflow learning program in 2022, learning and development (L&D) pros must thoughtfully address the following elements: accessibility at time of need, brevity and engagement.
Make It Accessible at the Time of Need
The era of a full day of learning off-site vanished when working from home became the new normal. Instead, workflow learning happens while the employee is performing their job. Employees are actually completing tasks at the same time they’re learning how to perform said tasks — ideally without a disruption to their workflow.
Resources for workflow learning are often based on the Five Moments of Need, a framework created by Bob Mosher and Conrad Gottfredson to help L&D teams design the right type of employee learning assets. The five need scenarios are:
- Apply: When employees need to put what they learn into action.
- Change: When employees need to learn how to do something a different way.
- Solve: When employees need to figure out how to handle an unexpected scenario.
- New: When employees are introduced to information for the first time.
- More: When employees build on previous knowledge.
In your own company, it’s crucial that employees can access the library of workflow assets on demand. Eliminate as many steps as possible between the learner and the desired resource — and optimize for quick loading time on all types of devices. Consider including categories like “Recently Viewed,” “Favorites” and “More Like This.”
In addition to accessibility, the process for retrieving resources must be easy and intuitive. Since L&D might not be familiar with niche keywords that employees will use to search for assets, include a handful of team members from all over the company and use their feedback to continually improve the search function.
Brevity Is Key
We’re living in a YouTube world, where people of all ages rely on two-minute tutorials to improve their skills in everything from the kitchen to the keyboard to the skate park. Similarly, workflow learning should be created in the vein of how-to videos that are two-to-four minutes long. Whether the video is a stand-alone demo or part of an overall learning path, it should be short, easy to follow and on topic.
Microlearning can lead to more recall and retention than longer learning lessons. In your own organization, provide employee learning experiences that are both context-driven and bite-sized.
Aim for Maximum Engagement
By definition, workflow learning is an immersive experience — not a three-page document of step-by-step instructions. From LinkedIn Learning’s “Two-Minute Tips” series to Open Sesame’s pop quiz feature, examples of engaging workflow resources abound across the industry.
Most large companies opt for animated tutorials and/or guidance from subject matter experts (SMEs). If you’re creating original workflow learning content, avoid designing these resources in a vacuum. Beta-test rough cuts of the first few videos with a sample set of end-users — and request brutal honesty from those employees. Applying their input early in your development process will not only improve the overall usefulness of the learning assets — it will also establish best practices for creating future workflow resources.
As remote and hybrid work shapes the workplace of tomorrow, short-form learning at key moments will eclipse longer and more formal approaches. Designed to help employees at all levels find the information they need when they need it, workflow learning offers opportunities to integrate L&D into the workday instead of treating it like an additional task. In 2022 and beyond, the most valuable employee resources are likely to be those that address the “How do I … ” question at the point of need.