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As consumers, people use self-service for nearly everything—buying groceries, banking, shopping, getting gasoline, and more. The increasing availability of self-service options isn’t due to labor shortages, or even laziness—it’s simply what many people prefer.

As employees, however, people do not have as many options to help themselves, especially in the learning and development (L&D) space. While almost everything else about work is transforming—technology is advancing more rapidly, the number of employees working remotely or outside of standard business hours is increasing, and the pace of business in general is accelerating—a majority of organizations still rely on outdated L&D approaches and delivery systems.

In today’s fast-changing workplace, where employees have about 20 minutes a week for “learning,” traditional approaches to L&D aren’t enough to meet their needs.

According to the 2016 Pew Research State of American Jobs report, more than 80 percent of U.S. workers believe that new skills and training “may hold the key to their future job success.” And although Millennials are more likely than their older colleagues to see skills and training as essential (61 percent), Generation X and Baby Boomers aren’t far behind, at 56 percent and roughly 40 percent, respectively.

The result is a workforce that has modern tools but knows little about using them. Employees who are ill-equipped are also more likely to be dissatisfied and disengaged.

The good news is that business leaders have begun to see L&D as critical to success in the digital age. The issue of improving employee careers and transforming corporate learning was rated the second most important trend in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, up from fifth last year. In addition, 45 percent of executives say that the ability to keep up with employees’ learning and development demands is urgent or very important, which is also an increase over the previous year.

Still, turning that awareness into action has been slow going. Among companies that have begun overhauling their L&D approaches, most are still in the beginning stages, the Deloitte report states.

Corporate L&D has never been simple, and has become even less so in the last decade. HR expert Josh Bersin, principal and founder of research firm Bersin by Deloitte, notes in a recent article that today’s workforce expects corporate L&D to be as user-friendly as social media and search.

The good news is that business leaders have begun to see L&D as critical to success in the digital age

“But the business world environment is far more complex: We have compliance training, new-hire training, and hundreds of company-specific topics and programs to deliver,” Bersin writes.

To meet the needs of today’s workforce, business leaders need to design programs with end-users at the center. They need to fully understand end-user challenges and goals, both professional and personal—and translate that into blended approaches that provide L&D opportunities when users need them.

Self-service alone isn’t the answer—some issues are best resolved with live support, and some topics are best learned in person from an instructor—but it’s a key requirement for the modern worker. Providing it as part of a blended approach ensures end-users have just-in-time resources no matter when or where they are working, and regardless of how much time they have to spare. Productivity will increase, as will engagement and satisfaction.

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