Continuing education is an imperative for every organization. As the pace of global business continues to race forward, employees who do not keep up with the evolution, or revolution, of their respective fields will be left behind. The question for training professionals is: What is the best way to effectively deliver relevant, powerful learning to multi-generational employees in today’s highly competitive and time-crunched world?

Technology, which continues to shape the way we work in this global economy, has spawned the on-demand economy, in which businesses and consumers alike expect to access goods, services and information whenever and wherever they have an internet connection. This on-demand flexibility offers training professionals a new universe of opportunities to deliver continuing education and training programs that align with the needs of today’s always-on employees.

Organizations provide training and development opportunities for a number of reasons. First and foremost, continuing education keeps employees’ skills sharp and up-to-speed with the most current practices in their business or industry. It also serves as an influential employee retention tool. Studies show that employees who are supported by their organizations in their professional growth and development perform at a higher level and are more likely to have a longer tenure with the organization.

Here are some best practices for developing on-demand corporate e-learning programs to meet the needs of multi-generational learners.

Flexibility is key. An e-learning solution that provides several tiers of content, connection with other learners or independent learning offers individuals the opportunity to choose the training modality that is most suited to their educational needs, learning style and personal schedules—at work, at the airport or at home. Practically speaking, the course must be worth the individual’s valuable time, or they will not make space for it.

An effective user experience is crucial to keep employees engaged. E-learning solutions must be designed to provide intuitive navigation so employees can concentrate more on the course materials and minimally on the distraction of cumbersome navigation. The courses must work seamlessly in the medium the employee prefers, whether it’s a laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Leverage the on-demand nature of business and the broader economy. E-learning is designed to accommodate the demands that often pull an employee away from continuing education, the most pressing being time. That’s why it’s a good idea to offer a few tiers of e-learning, each with a different time commitment and level of interaction with peers and instructors. Courses within these tiers should be designed to stand alone as individual learning modules and also to work in combination to earn a specific qualification or certification.

Take into account the type and amount of information required to keep pace with industry developments, and create tangible takeaways. Identify a set of core and advanced competencies, and define them across various career levels. Using several on-demand e-learning modules enables employees to acquire the knowledge they need when they need it. Also, take a look at the environment into which these courses are being introduced: the employee workday. To ensure accessibility, the distribution method needs to be flexible to fit within employees’ already demanding work schedules and personal lives.

These three instruction modalities incorporate these best practices:

  • Just-in-Time Learning: Deliver five- to 15-minute microlearning courses in highly-focused and easily-digestible information chunks. This modality resonates with learners who look to Google and YouTube when they want to learn a new skill.
  • Guided Learning: Guided learning provides similar benefits to attending seminars at a fraction of the cost and meshes well with employees’ schedules. This modality is ideal for team learning and training multiple employees simultaneously. Programs might include one-hour courses offered on weekdays for three to five weeks, depending on the subject matter, or a weekly instructor-led webinar with an online message board that facilitates student interaction.
  • Self-Paced Learning: Ideal for employees who prefer independent study, self-paced online courses could be about an hour in length and cover several learning objectives. Employees can access these courses on demand anytime and anywhere with an internet connection.

The on-demand economy is here to stay, and technology will continue to offer new possibilities that will revolutionize the way we learn and the way training professionals design and implement continuing education programs. In addition to serving as a strong employee recruitment, retention and engagement tool, on-demand continuing education offers a strategic advantage that delivers leading-edge learning to employees who have limited time for it. Implementing a multi-tiered, on-demand e-learning program is a proven way to address the imperative for continuing education in a time-crunched world.