Employees crave development. More than ever, they expect their employers to invest in them as individuals in a way that goes above and beyond job security and competitive salary. A recent survey found that 86% of workers value training at work — a figure that grows to 91% among middle-aged professionals. Research like this survey demonstrates the value in creating engaging learning experiences. As businesses increasingly align learning goals with organizational outcomes, employees are clearly eager to embrace the opportunities that relevant, personalized, blended learning experiences can provide.
Moreover, as this alignment of goals continues to boost business success, leaders are eager to ensure that employees are equipped with the capabilities they need, turning up the volume on their learning and development (L&D) and performance support initiatives. However, in a digital age characterized by endless information, L&D professionals must contend with a constant drive to achieve, demand for instant knowledge, autonomy of workers and the need for consistent learning. Employees must be able to learn quickly, not just within the flow of work but within “the flow of life,” as Deloitte’s 2019 “Global Human Capital Trends” report put it.
Critically, learning must also have a clear purpose that benefits and is understood by individuals and the organization. In order to achieve this goal, workers must:
- Be excited by learning.
- Be engaged in learning and its aims.
- Have the opportunity and tools to embed new behaviors.
What does this type of training strategy look like in practice?
Excite: Creating a Buzz for Learning
Once business leaders are excited about the potential for L&D initiatives, human resources (HR) and learning professionals must ensure that employees also buy into the new program. They can do so by communicating the reasons for the learning and performance support and helping employees understand the importance of the learning and how it will benefit them. Each employee has a different experience of workplace learning, which may make it challenging to bring him or her on board. It’s vital, therefore, that all employees understand the purpose and value of learning.
Personalized invitations and internal communications that highlight the value of learning and how to access it are an essential first step. These methods not only clarify the purpose of the training but also make it easy for employees to participate. Following this initial stage, workers should feel engaged with the aims of the learning and ready and eager to participate in the next steps.
Engage: Impactful Learning Anytime, Anywhere, Anyhow
Learning professionals can capitalize on the momentum they built in the “excite” stage by offering workers a range of learning experiences designed to capture their attention, be flexible to their needs, and deliver learning and business objectives. Modern blended programs, comprised of on-demand digital content and immersive face-to-face sessions, coaching and mentoring, engage learners. Critical, however, is selecting the right mix of learning experiences for the desired learning outcome. While the use of new technologies may initially excite learners, it will fail to keep them engaged if it’s not the best tool for the learning objective.
Truly engaging learning experiences are embedded within the flow of an organization. The right mix of blended learning tools creates a learning journey that satisfies both the learner and the business need. HR and learning professionals must balance curated content with engaging delivery experiences and external support to create a cohesive learning and performance support solution.
Embed: Long-lasting Mindset, Performance and Behavioral Change
There are two vital parts to the final stage. Firstly, at the micro-level, learners must be able to use their new skills and behaviors within their ordinary workflow. HR and L&D professionals should encourage them to continue to develop the mindset and performance required by the business.
In order to create this change, teams of people — and, in some cases, the entire organization — will need to change their approach to work. From the bullpen to the C-suite, Deloitte reports, collaboration is becoming more common as individuals step out of their narrowly defined responsibilities. Working together and working in similar ways will, therefore, be more important than ever.
A modern blended learning program is often a reorientation — refocusing individuals and teams to behave differently. If these approaches, mindsets and behaviors are embedded into the team and the business as a whole, it is much easier for individuals to understand their roles and to work within the new parameters set out by the learning experiences.
By exciting workers to learn, engaging them in learning, and encouraging them to embed their new skills and behaviors, organizations can see a shift from learning as an activity that runs alongside the business to learning as an integral performance support solution that helps the business achieve its goals.