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As consumers, you 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.

Illustration: Teaching and Learning, Fortune magazine, 1961

As employees, however, you do not have as many always-on options, especially in the learning and development (L&D) space. While almost everything else about work is changing—technology is advancing more rapidly, more people are working remotely or outside of traditional business hours, and the pace of business in general is accelerating—approaches to learning and development haven’t caught up.

In today’s fast-changing workplace, where you have about 20 minutes a week for “learning,” traditional approaches to L&D aren’t enough to meet your needs. Your organization may provide modern tools, but without enough guidance on how to get the most out of them, those new technologies can impede your productivity instead of promoting it.

Training and development is critical for your everyday, just-in-time needs, as well as for your future. In its 2016 State of American Jobs report, Pew Research notes that 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 good news is that business leaders are beginning to understand how critical L&D transformation is to your productivity, satisfaction, and success in the digital age. The issue of improving employee careers and transforming corporate learning is rated the second most important issue in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, up from fifth last year. In addition, 45 percent of executives surveyed for the report 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.

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

Complexity is one of the causes. Corporate L&D is multi-dimensional, and has become increasingly so over the past decade. At work, your daily agenda is overfilled and your cognitive capabilities are overtaxed. In your personal life, you shoulder the same amount of responsibility—or more—but you have access to more user-friendly, always-available resources with which to tick off those tasks. You expect options at work to be the same.

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. “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.

In addition to being stalled by complexity, learning leaders have also been caught off guard. In the late 2000s, when BYOD was novel, few could have predicted how quickly technology would advance and how pervasive it would become. Corporate L&D is catching up, albeit not at the pace you are used to as consumers.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For the corporate L&D department of the near future, self-service, consumer-oriented support isn’t the only 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 modern workers.

Having it as part of a blended approach ensures that you have just-in-time resources no matter when or where you are working, and regardless of how much time you have to spare.

1 Comment
  • Craig kirchoff

    My experiences have shown me a 45 year employee, that new hire training of present day does not meet the expectations that the same training did in the late 1970″s, Training is & use to be the responsibility of the companies, however they have lost sight of this in my opinion. The obligation to train is on them .


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