When was the last time you noticed elevator music? The simple yet effective melodies used in elevators to break up the awkward moments of silence with strangers are on the downturn of their life cycle. Today, dead air and claustrophobia are all but afterthoughts, since a majority of us occupy our minds with our cell phones on the vertical journey through floors. Even when there is elevator music, it likely goes unnoticed.
During my travels, when I am not answering an email or text message, or brainlessly scrolling through social media, I often find myself searching for an article to read, a podcast to listen to or a recipe to use that evening. In other words, I use that brief amount of time to search for content. If I am unable to find what I am looking for by the time I step off of the elevator, odds are I am onto the next digital query. It doesn’t matter if my barrier to finding that information is due to a bad connection, poor design or my own user error; the opportunity window of engagement with that piece of content is lost.
Let’s call it the elevator test: For content to have a chance at success, it needs to be deliverable to end users in the time it takes them to use an elevator, from waiting for it to arrive to leaving it. The elevator test not only applies to recipes and podcasts; it applies to an organization’s learning and development (L&D) content as well.
For the past three years, LinkedIn Learning has released an annual workplace learning report that highlights findings from a survey of hundreds of learners, executives and L&D professionals across the globe. A key finding in its 2019 report was that the L&D industry is at “a tipping point”; training budgets are growing, and dollars are shifting from instructor-led-training (ILT) to online learning. According to the report, “Since 2017, 59% of talent developers spend more of their budget on online learning and 39% say they spend less on instructor-led training.”
The reason? Technology, specifically platforms that deliver content, is progressing daily. With advancing technology comes a shift in the standards and consumer expectations for how companies should deliver content. Executives have taken note of this shift, with 90% of organizations now offering digital learning in some form, according to LinkedIn Learning. Whether it’s learning content or personal social media content, the standard is the same: It needs to be digitally accessible and delivered seamlessly with minimal clicks, within seconds.
L&D teams must think like marketers and tailor their learning delivery strategies to compete with the social media and content delivery titans of the internet. For companies to reach and engage their employees, they have no choice, especially when it comes to non-mandatory training initiatives. At times, it means taking an “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach in delivering content using the social media platforms that they are often competing with for their employees’ valuable time.
In other cases, it means customizing internal delivery platforms to look and perform like the applications and websites that their learners are accustomed to. Content delivery vehicles that were once meant primarily for mainstream media and entertainment — like video, virtual and augmented reality, video games, and podcasts — are now cornerstones of corporate learning delivery strategies.
Millennials, the generation who grew up on a knowledge-sharing innovation roller coaster ride, will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Of that generation, 66% expect to stay with their current employer for less than five years. On the other hand, 94% of employees across generations say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
To attract and retain talent, L&D teams have to provide professional learning and development programs digitally and deliver them effectively. The demand is there; the challenge is delivering programs and content that learners not only want to engage with but also do not have to think twice about finding.
After all, as many have noted, we have attention spans shorter than a goldfish’s. You may lose your learner before they even leave the elevator. Reel them in when you have the chance; you may never have the opportunity again.