Business has changed.  It’s global, faster paced, more competitive, and it’s having a distinct impact on how people do their jobs.

Employees need to know more than ever before.  But they deal with a mind-boggling number of distractions each day, and have almost no time for learning anything – 1 percent of an average workweek is about it.

The ironic part is that a knowledgeable workforce that marches to the same drum is the only way to keep ahead of the competition.

So how do businesses adapt to this new normal?  How do they provide the knowledge employees need to do an exceptional job, without putting additional stressors on their time and attention?  How do they give employees a way to get information as quickly as possible, so they can be responsive and effective?

Out with the old

Best-in-class organizations have it all figured out. They know traditional “one-size-fits-all” training sessions (including those delivered via LMS) just don’t make sense anymore. Whether it’s in the classroom, or via e-learning, lengthy information dumps do nothing but overload employees. Plus, generic courses simply force employees to sit through a bunch of irrelevant content to find their own nuggets of gold. The end result is that employees leave sessions frustrated and often no further ahead. And with no way to reinforce what they’ve learned, there’s no point. They’ll forget most of it within a month anyway.

The bottom line is these outdated methods don’t give employees the knowledge they need to do their jobs well, which can seriously impact the business’s bottom line.

In with the new

Progressive, best-in-class organizations know their “new normal” means evolving L&D practices to propel the business forward. Aberdeen Group has been investigating these organizations and has defined them as “best-in-class” performers, based on some incredible metrics:

  • 85 percent of their employees rated themselves “highly engaged.”
  • They’ve realized a 15 percent increase in revenue per full-time equivalent (FTE).
  • They’ve also achieved a 16 percent increase in customer/patient satisfaction rates/scores.

So, how do these companies approach employee learning and achieve such an impact?  Aberdeen Group discovered that best-in-class organizations incorporate five common attributes into their corporate training practices that boost their success:

1. They benchmark, then personalize.  Best-in-class companies are 2.3 times more likely (91 percent vs. 39 percent) to assess current knowledge and skills to identify gaps that training needs to address.  With this insight, they can identify employee strengths and weaknesses and develop a personalized knowledge plan to help these employees reach their potential.

2. They use learning techniques that appeal to multiple generations and mirror real life. From millennials to boomers, best-in-class companies are 76 percent more likely to incorporate modern techniques that make learning more engaging and effective for multiple generations. These techniques mimic real-world applications like Google, Facebook and YouTube.

  • Microlearning apps serve up short bursts of meaningful learning content each day (3-5 minutes), making content fast and easy to digest without interrupting business as usual. An added bonus is companies that use microlearning experience a 63 percent year-over-year improvement in revenue per full-time equivalent.
  • Gamfication allows employees to play games while learning, earn points and rewards, and compete against their colleagues to add some fun and excitement to the process. Top companies value the results, making them three times more likely (32 percent vs. 12 percent) to use gamification to support employee learning.

3. They make learning agile and continuous. Instead of approaching training with a “one and done” mindset, best-in-class organizations view learning as an ongoing process that is woven into each workday. They know change is the only constant, so they are 37.5 percent (33 percent vs. 24 percent) more likely to keep employee knowledge agile in order to respond to shifting priorities. One way they are doing this is by leveraging modern learning technologies that allow content to be changed on the fly, ensure it can be pushed out to employees immediately, and also enable employees to pull it when they need a quick reference.

4. They ensure learning is accessible. With today’s busy, mobile and disruption-riddled workplace, employees don’t have the time, inclination or often even the ability to attend long, in-person training sessions. Best-in-class organizations are 22 percent more likely (60% vs. 49%) to

put knowledge in the hands of employees where and when they need it:

  • Self-service portals give employees access their own learning as needed, instead of waiting for scheduled courses.
  • Mobile technologies allow employees to learn on their smartphone or tablet, when and where they wish, including outside of work hours.
  • Knowledge-on-demand repositories provide employees with access to information precisely when they need to apply it to the job.

5. They focus on building knowledge, rather than simply delivering learning.  Instead of the traditional “training delivery,” best-in-class organizations are 32 percent (54 percent vs. 41 percent) more likely to look at the types of knowledge each employee needs and to define core competencies to achieve exceptional job performance. They also tie knowledge-building to specific job performance outcomes, and involve coaches and mentors in the ongoing success of each employee’s learning. These organizations value the insights and experiences of their employees and are not afraid to empower them to share their knowledge with each other, essentially leveraging the collective intelligence of the organization. In fact, best-in-class organizations are 36 percent more likely (30 percent vs. 22 percent) to encourage learning from peers to enhance employee knowledge and development.

Transitioning to knowledge-centric training

Top performing organizations understand the value of ditching traditional training methods in favor of a more holistic and continuous approach. Rather than simply delivering learning, they help employees build, sustain, share and apply knowledge to have a measurable impact on business results. This should be the new normal for corporate training.