One of the primary challenges for learning and development in any company is to keep up with the pace of business. It goes without saying that the modern work environment has been completely turned upside down by technology. Employees can access information instantly and no longer have the desire or the need to wait for L&D to catch up. And for most organizations, it isn’t ideal to have employees learning from a video on YouTube posted by an unknown source.
But L&D professionals are still largely handcuffed in their ability to respond. They’re bound by decades-old training approaches involving lengthy, one-off courses delivered by equally antiquated tools like the LMS. Their companies have invested millions in them, and it’s difficult to admit that the LMS just doesn’t deliver and instead to advocate for something that works. The result is a workforce that struggles to retain even a fraction of the information directed at it, and there’s certainly no way to know if the content is impacting business results.
L&D’s struggle to keep up with the needs of the modern learner has created a disconnect between the training they deliver and the requirements of the business to achieve specific corporate objectives. Not only is this disconnect affecting the bottom line, where the company feels it most, but employees are feeling this gap as individuals as well. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Axonify, 30 percent of U.S. employees don’t receive training at all. That’s approximately 100 million people who are essentially “winging it” in at least some aspect of their jobs. The potential cost of “guessing” while at work is staggering.
The survey also reveals the broader state of corporate training, and it isn’t pretty. The groups who are particularly vulnerable to a lack of training include people who work part-time, earn less than $50,000 annually and do not have a college degree. They are often frontline employees and deskless workers—for example, the sales associates on the showroom floor, the delivery drivers and the material handlers in the warehouse.
These groups are significantly more likely than their counterparts—those with a higher education, who work full-time and who are more affluent—to have not received any workplace training from their employer. Nearly half of all manufacturing employees, including machine operators, also say they’ve never received any formal training in their current job. When you consider the personal risk involved in some of these roles, it isn’t a surprise that safety incidents are so high.
But things aren’t much better for those who do receive training. Almost 50 percent of them say it’s “not very effective for succeeding at the job.” The most common drivers behind this problem shouldn’t be surprising. Just under half say it’s because they only receive training a few times a year. One in five respondents says their training is ineffective because it’s boring (ever hear that one before?). Nearly a quarter say there’s simply too much information thrown at them at once, and 20 percent say they tend to just forget most of it.
Clearly, there’s a problem. It’s one thing to have such a significant number of people going without training. It’s another to have half of those who do receive training finding it a complete waste of time.
What this feedback points to is a corporate training paradigm that is simply not working. While L&D embraced LMS solutions because they were supposed to make corporate learning more efficient and effective, they haven’t. Companies have simply moved a classroom experience online, with no focus on agility, speed, shared learning and providing knowledge instantly, at the point of need.
If we really take this feedback from employees seriously, though, the good news is that new solutions enable us to change our approach. There is a better way to provide training, and it starts with an understanding that the knowledge in employees’ heads directly impacts the bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to put the right tools in play that will engage employees in learning and truly promote knowledge growth long term.
Let’s look at what employees themselves say they need from training. The survey asked workers which elements of formal workplace training are most important to them:
- 90 percent place training that is easy to complete and understand at the top of their list.
- 85 percent say it should also be engaging, fun, personalized and relevant.
- 72 percent want training that is regular and frequent.
- 63 percent say training should be short and that they should have the option to participate on a range of devices, including their smartphone.
- 64 percent want the choice to pick training times that work best for their schedule.
- 64 percent desire ready access to information anytime and anywhere they need it.
Employees have given L&D professionals a detailed roadmap for how training would be most impactful to them and their organizations. Just like the LMS became the de facto alternative to classroom training, next-generation technologies are eclipsing the LMS by light years and completely meeting the needs of today’s employee. L&D just needs to be brave enough to take that leap again.