Learning is a popular topic, with any number of shiny new products available to enhance learning and overwhelm seasoned professionals with choices. In 2016, Inside Higher Ed estimated the market for learning management systems (LMSs) to be anywhere from $3.2 billion to $5.2 billion and expected it to reach between $16 billion and $19 billion by 2022.

Deloitte’s 2019 “Global Human Capital Trends” report states, “The number-one trend for 2019 is the need for organizations to change the way people learn.” However, only 46% of survey respondents said they’re ready to address this trend. Organizations are looking for answers to three questions in order to commit to addressing learning:

  • What’s in it for the employee?
  • What’s in it for the organization?
  • How do they get there?

A Case for Engagement

Human resources (HR) leaders are now focused on the employee experience throughout each person’s journey. As of August 2018, Gallup’s employee engagement survey found that 34% of U.S. workers are engaged, compelling employers to find a way to engage their workforce in order to compete with low unemployment rates and keep their prized assets. Without fostering engagement, employers may be faced with qualified workers’ leaving for greener pastures.

The HR industry has searched for greater engagement and is throwing its technology dollars at platforms that appear more powerful and easy to use. Sleek all-in-one interfaces and a broad array of content promise to handle every need, including learning — but often sacrifice functionality. To address productivity and free up budget, some organizations are eliminating tools that only address a single area of HR in favor of an all-in-one solution that promises to deliver on all talent needs.

This cost savings in the short run potentially do a disservice to enterprise learning and development (L&D). Providing only a course player and a library of content doesn’t address the real issue of organizational learning. Also, the value of extracting actionable insights about the state of knowledge in your organization is a must-have in a 21st-century workplace.

The Medium Is the Message

Enforcing that “nudge” for employees to value a learning opportunity is more successful when the learning platform can deliver the same training in multiple formats. People’s preferences tend to fall into a few common styles, so plan accordingly.

To deliver a great employee experience, organizations need to look at how people prefer to learn and then create a more personalized learning experience. When it comes to content, some users are looking for soft skills, while others are more focused on compliance training. Offering a variety of options is great, but content overload can lead to choice fatigue or even worse, apathy.

More than likely, an “all-in-one” system will lack the ability to create a learning plan using artificial intelligence (AI) to curate relevant content for learners pursuing their individual goals. On a larger scale, any learning system an organization uses should be able to recommend content based on a person’s job title, location, function, goal or even personal interest. This type of platform can also help HR professionals tie individual learning to organizational goals.

Organizations should also provide learning opportunities in multiple formats. For example, research published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that older generations may prefer face-to-face delivery. Younger generations, on the other hand, often like bite-size learning opportunities, similar to YouTube “how-to” videos. In fact, a report from Software Advice found that 58% of employees are more likely to use their company’s learning tool if it breaks up the content into brief sessions.

Beyond being a simple course player, a modern LMS must support these different delivery methods, enable adequate tracking and analytics, and give employees a learning experience that helps them see the value of each opportunity.

Learning ROI

A quality employee experience is more than access to training. It’s a philosophy that begins on day one and runs through the entire journey.

Setting learners loose on a vast, disorganized learning library will not help you accomplish any specific learning goal. Instead, a platform that offers structure to fulfill a learning journey can boost engagement for the employee and provide analytics for HR administrators.

When it comes to the learning experience, an LMS should engage employees with ease of use, a modern look and relevant content. But it’s important to remember that workplace learning is an investment. Employees want to see how their investment will pay off in the future and help them achieve their career goals.

From an organizational perspective, HR leaders must also connect the dots from learning opportunities to organizational goals. An LMS that provides you with analytics is imperative to proving the learning return on investment (ROI) for the entire organization.

Learning Should Be an Experience

Organizations can bridge the gap between identifying the need for learning and addressing it by making it part of the initial employee value proposition and tying it to each employee’s career goals, delivering quality and relevant content in accessible ways, and finding ways to prove ROI to the organization.