Why Always-On Learning is Essential to the Employee Experience

Want to engage your talent and maintain competitiveness? Then it's time to prioritize workplace learning, says Karen Minicozzi.

We all have that one nagging thing on our to-do list, don’t we? Continually pushed to the bottom of the pile, usurped on a weekly basis by other seemingly more pressing matters. The “I know that’s important, but I just don’t have time” item that craves attention. It’s fair to say that workplace learning has traditionally been considered in a similar vein. Yet, as employers look to engage talent and maintain competitiveness, smart leaders are starting to realize the importance of making always-on learning a core part of their company culture.

Why now? Aside from fierce competition for talent that’s leading businesses to rethink how they motivate and manage their workforce, we’re also seeing workplace learning mirror some of the trends seen in the consumer world: Engaging, on-demand, social content, created by the real, in-the-trenches experts. Employers adopting this philosophy are trying to make learning both easier to execute and more interesting for workers. By 2020, the global corporate e-learning market is projected to reach $31 billion in revenue, according to a Technavio report. To put this into context, this is roughly the same size as the entire projected market for wearable tech over the same period.

More than 58% of millennials expect their employers to provide them with learning opportunities relevant to their jobs.

Of course, workplace learning will still deliver basic learning and compliance tasks, as it should. However, the opportunity is now there for organizations to engage workers by creating a bridge to new career opportunities and to achieve personal and professional goals. In today’s disruptive business world, things change fast and the need to re-skill the workforce will continue to grow.

Changing Workforce Demands New Approach

If we consider the impact of digital transformation on the way in which businesses operate, it’s of little wonder that the marketplace has been focused on developing new, in-demand skillsets. Within this context, workplace learning is no longer about ad hoc courses where employees are almost learning within an isolated bubble rather than doing something that benefits both them and their employers.

In addition, employers have increasingly diverse and demographically broad workforces, so they need to provide learning tools and options that appeal to millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers alike. More than 58% of millennials surveyed in an EdAssist 2015 study said they expect their employers to provide them with learning opportunities relevant to their jobs. “Consumerized” learning is one of the ways to actually bridge the generational differences, and enable each generation to learn from the strengths and expertise of others.

Learning enablement is about taking employees on a journey—from onboarding, through development opportunities, to promotions and role changes.

As within most sectors, technology has played a key role in redefining the workplace learning landscape. The emergence of new cloud-based learning platforms, underpinned by streaming video, mobile, and gamification, means that content is shifting increasingly towards self-directed and expert-driven learning. And thinking back to learning on our to-do list, content is now being broken down into easy-to-digest, bite-size assets that can be consumed on demand, rather than the more meaty collection of linear courses historically delivered, reflecting how people now learn in the real world, such as through YouTube how-to videos or TED seminars.

Learning Still a Luxury for the C-Suite?

While learning may be viewed by some business leaders as a luxury, in today’s market where finding and retaining talent is a huge challenge, the addition of learning initiatives can act as a catalyst for increased employee engagement and truly make a difference. And, according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016 survey, learning is being pushed higher on the business agenda, with more than eight in 10 executives (84 percent) saying learning was important (40 percent) or very important (44 percent). When you add to that the fact that the number of CEOs who view the “availability of skills” as a serious concern climbed 10 percent between 2014 and 2015, according to a PwC survey, there is certainly a case to be made that business leaders understand the importance of workplace learning.

It’s no secret that customers are shifting from a learning management to a learning enablement approach. Learning enablement is about taking employees on a journey throughout their time with the company—from onboarding, through development opportunities, to promotions and role changes. And that journey needs to be highly engaging and supportive of the employee’s growth, with personalized recommendations based on where they are in their career or what similar employees find valuable. That’s how we have developed our technology, with those key considerations in mind.

One thing is patently clear: workplace learning can no longer be a disconnected process on the fringes of the organization; it must be a process that is tightly tied to the employee’s experience, and then woven into the fabric of the modern workplace. Choosing the right technology platform will ensure that not only is learning intuitive, easy and fun—by lending from the consumer experience—but also leads to higher engagement and, as a result, increased productivity and competitiveness.

Posted in:  Human Resources

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