There is a critical shift happening in the learning landscape. According to Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, we are no longer satisfied with simply exchanging the classroom for an online, but still deskbound, experience. This change might be disruptive, but like anything else related to technology, it is happening a lot faster than you think, and it’s inevitable.
According to a 2016 report by McKinsey & Company, 40 percent of chief learning officers believe that their corporate learning initiatives are ineffective, yet Bersin by Deloitte reports that U.S. companies are spending more than $60 billion a year on employee development. It’s only a matter of time; those who fail to modernize their approach to learning are in danger of being left behind or, worse, making themselves redundant.
Forget resolutions; start the new year with action. This is your opportunity to break away from traditional thinking to drive a modern learning strategy that is both relevant and effective. Here are five tips for making that happen.
Start With an Actual Business Outcome.
Create buy-in by focusing on the business outcomes your organization wants to achieve. Only L&D professionals really care about learning theory. Everyone else, even your employees, care about results. This isn’t something that can be done in a vacuum. Talk to other departments and C-suite executives. What does your business need or want to achieve? Do you want to drive sales? Reduce safety incidents? Whatever it is, build learning around these outcomes. Create a direct correlation between learning and the behaviors you want to see in your employees and a direct link from behaviors to outcomes. Focus on the impact of learning, and you won’t have to convince anyone of your relevance. The value will be obvious.
Embrace Familiar Technologies.
Corporate learning shouldn’t look like school. How many times each day do you check social media, search for an answer on Google or use a mobile device? This is what learning looks like today. Embrace familiar technologies, the kind your people want and use every day. This doesn’t mean stuffing videos onto a tiny phone screen or forcing your people to scroll through miles of text on that screen. It means using microlearning content and the technology your employees are familiar with to provide the accessible, convenient and rapid-fire knowledge that they have come to expect in everyday life.
Make Learning Part of the Everyday.
Workers have about 1 percent of their week to devote to learning, so you’d better make it count. Start by abandoning the old event-style approach to learning. Instead, fit your learning opportunities right into the workflow. Provide continuous rather than one-off access to learning by adopting tools that leverage microlearning.
This is exactly what companies like Bloomingdale’s have done. By providing learning in three- to five-minute, bite-sized bursts every day, the retail company has, to date, saved more than $10 million in safety-related costs and boasts a 90-percent voluntary participation in learning. Imagine – learning that brings results and that no one must be forced to complete!
Make Learning Engaging.
We tend to give a lot of bandwidth to engagement, and for good reason. Engaged employees are far less likely to leave a company, and the companies they work for are more profitable and productive. Modern tools make it easier to engage learners. Leverage microlearning to keep learning relevant and make people less likely to disengage and tune out. Gamification techniques make learning fun and also make use of natural motivators, such as rewards and competition, that will engage learners. Personalize learning to focus on the “need to know” rather than the “nice to know.” Consider tools that use algorithms that adapt learning to address gaps or challenge those who are ready to move beyond current content. Nothing disengages people from learning more quickly than a belief that they are wasting their time on information they either already know or don’t need to know.
These techniques work. By using a learning platform with both gamification and microlearning, grocery chain Northgate Gonzalez Market realized a 68-percent reduction in safety incidents and a 90-percent voluntary participation.
Offer Learning at the Moment of Need.
Seventy percent of employees use search engines to learn what they need for their jobs, and an increasing number are turning to their smartphones to find just-in-time answers to unexpected problems. Modern technology has made us accustomed to receiving information where and when we need it. Your learning has to provide this same ease of use. Turn off the firehose of information that often characterizes onboarding; instead, focus on letting your people know where they can find the information they need. Keeping the firehose off also means that you control the flow of information so that everyone is finding what they need or want, and you’re not simply throwing everything at the lowest denominator in the room.
Make 2018 the year you deliver the kind of learning that will drive your company’s profitability and productivity. Make your new year not just about a shift in tools but also a shift toward an employee-centric learning program. Don’t try to squeeze old methods into new technology; instead, bring learning to where your employees are, and make it fit into their day. Provide obvious value to your business, and make your learning irresistible to your employees. Leverage existing technology to fit continuous learning seamlessly into the workflow. This year, make L&D the driving force behind your company’s success.