According to the 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, time is the “biggest barrier to learning,” with 63% of millennials and 50% of Generation Xers saying they want to learn a new skill but feel like they don’t have the time.
Employees want to learn and grow, but they simply don’t have the time to do it. We live in a busy world, but is time the real culprit? Is it truly what’s stopping employees from attending and completing training?
Lack of time is an easy excuse. People spend their time on what they enjoy or what will benefit them, like binge-watching the new season of “Stranger Things” on Netflix or working on a high-profile project that will gain them visibility in their workplace. We all prioritize time differently, and unfortunately, corporate training has a stigma — that it’s boring and takes too long — that enables the “lack of time” excuse.
Ultimately, the root of the problem lies with employees’ perception that training does not line up with the way they want to learn. Employees look for training that feels more dynamic, like the online and social media content they consume daily, instead of static sessions. They want training that’s personalized and tells an interesting story, delivered in a way that’s easy to interact with. That’s why microlearning — delivered in easy-to-digest, bite-sized chunks — and mobile-friendly videos are so popular. It’s content they can watch during their commute, on a break or on the treadmill.
Training professionals need to adapt corporate learning to fit the lives of their audience if they hope to be successful. Take financial services firm Ellie Mae, for example. Since 1997, Ellie Mae has been the leading cloud-based mortgage software provider, processing up to 35% of U.S. mortgage applications and employing more than 1,500 people.
Karen Kostrinsky, a member of the curriculum development team, knew that her team’s approach to compliance training needed to change. The company used to rely on instructor-led live webinars, which it recorded and posted on an internal website and on its learning management system. Kostrinsky and her team soon realized that this format wasn’t working and knew there had to be a better way to engage employees.
They searched for a way to make their training more dynamic, finally settling on an animated video approach. The short, entertaining videos enhanced critical thinking in a way that their previous videos never had. Employees were ecstatic about the change, praising the fun characters and storyline as well as the flexibility that came with the shorter length.
“Everyone loved it!” she says. “We all learn things more easily when [they’re] told through storytelling.”
The idea caught on across the company. After witnessing the success of the curriculum development team, the technical support team decided to take on a similar approach, building out videos called “Lessons in a Snap” to help walk people through common programs.
For Karen, rethinking her approach to training was “transformative.” Because of her work with bite-sized, animated videos, the company’s leaders honored her with Ellie Mae’s coveted Circle of Excellence Award — a distinction given to members of the sales team who have exceeded their quotas and to 10 to 15 people who have made a considerable impact in other ways across the company.
Not every training revamp will earn an award, but it’s still more than worth it to pause and ask yourself if there’s a better way to engage your employees through visual storytelling. I think you’ll find fewer and fewer people saying they don’t have the time for learning.