In an increasingly digital world, change is accelerating. The increasing speed of change requires continuous learning in almost every job role throughout today’s corporations. With global unemployment rates at the low-water mark, upskilling is more efficient than recruiting. The socio-political climate is causing increased oversight and stricter industry regulations that employers must adhere to.

All of these factors, combined, create an increased need for learning on the job. These needs are not just elevated but diversified and complex. A multigenerational workforce requires organizations to deliver in vastly diverse ways. Concurrently, agile businesses require employees to have composite skills, making learning more complex.

Workplace learning fulfills three core needs: timely performance enhancement, sustained skill development, and compliance or regulatory obligations. Each of these learning purposes requires different platform and content capabilities.

Learning for Timely Performance Enhancement

Timely performance enhancement is a moment of need that anyone within an organization could require at any given time. Typical examples include looking up how a software feature works, how to structure a strategy presentation or how to offer specific coaching to an employee. To an extent, this learner need can be met using free content on the internet; however, a curated collection works better to provide relevant, high-quality, discoverable content. As a result, an organization’s learning platform needs to enable employees to locate the right resources quickly. Content needs to be brief and to the point, accessible on desktop and mobile devices, and aggregated across multiple applicable sources.

Learning for Sustained Skill Development

Sometimes, learners want to become more proficient in a specific skill area at a certain level. They may be trying to adjust to a new role, looking for upward career development or starting on a new project assignment. Learners are typically willing to invest more time learning a specific skill than they are in looking for an informative piece of content at a single moment in time. Examples include programming, project management or leadership skills.

This learning use case requires thoughtful content curation, strong instructional design, the ability to practice, laboratory exercises, certification testing, interaction with the instructor and peer learners, and credentialing. Strong search capabilities and content aggregation are still necessary, and multimodal support becomes more important as learners require different resources and content delivery methods that cater to individual learner preferences.

Learning for Regulations and Compliance

Regulatory and compliance needs are growing. In the current global business climate, compliance training for the likes of harassment, bribery and anticorruption, cybersecurity and data privacy, and social media are increasingly common — and required for employees. While industries including transportation, automotive, financial services and life sciences have always been heavy on regulatory training, a new wave of industries, including hospitality, mobile manufacturers and operators, internet commerce, and service providers are coming under the purview of regulations.

This type of training requires support for custom courseware, strong administrative capabilities for curriculum design and management, strong reporting capabilities, and blended learning that involves classroom and online training. Because there are different levels of regulatory requirements and policies that vary by organization, location, culture and industry, compliance content must be highly customizable and curated to comply with differing policies and requirements.

A Note on Finding a Training Partner

Vendors that provide learning and development (L&D) content and platforms are increasingly challenged to develop a solution that provides these required resources, functionality and modalities to support diverse training needs. Some vendors are strong in a subset of these use cases but lack in other areas.

As a learning practitioner, it is important to understand the different groups of your learner population that require different use cases. Choosing the correct platforms that serve the required use cases is essential for learner adoption and, eventually, for the overall success of your learning programs and initiatives. It is not necessary that one platform serves the needs of all learners within an organization. Often, it is more beneficial to have the correct tool for the learner group’s dominant use case. Although you may incur the overhead of more than one provider, in the long run, choosing the right set of tools and content providers will benefit your organization with better learning outcomes.