By Jacquie Beck
All this month, we have examined corporate learning from different angles—how it’s changing, what’s driving the change, and the benefits it can deliver to employees and businesses. As we’ve noted, learning leaders are the catalysts for this transformation. They need to figure out how to develop a culture that inspires employees to build habit-forming best practices for learning and development.
It’s no small task—technology changes more rapidly than ever, as do organizational goals. In addition, today’s workers are overwhelmed, distracted and impatient. Research shows:
- Workers spend 41 percent of their time on tasks that offer little personal satisfaction and do not help them get work done
- Today, employees go online an average of 27 times per day. In the early days of the internet, it was five
- People unlock their smartphones an average of nine times every hour
- Today’s employees are interrupted as often as every five minutes
- Most learners will not watch videos longer than four minutes
- Two out of three knowledge workers say they don’t have time to do their jobs
- 1 percent, or 24 minutes total, of a typical work week is all that employees have to focus on training and development
On a micro level, organizations can provide learning that’s designed with modern workers in mind. For example, they can create content that is easy to find and easy to use. Using gamification and rewards can spawn loyalty and repeated use of the learning portal, and incorporating reusable learning objects ensures the content is current, bite-size, and effective.
On a macro level, leaders can encourage a new learning culture by following a few best practices:
- ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL Rapidly advancing technology, greater scientific insight and shifting demographics have made one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter methods of learning and development obsolete. Studies have shown that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways—for example, audiovisual and tactile—can increase learning retention. In addition, research suggests that there is no universal “best” way to learn—it depends on the subject matter, the learning objective, and the situation, among other variables.
- LEARNING MUST BE CONTINUOUS According to research by Deloitte, the average half-life of a learned skill today is less than five years. By providing your employees with continuous learning opportunities, you not only help them stay relevant, you also ensure your organization’s future.
- COLLECTING AND ACTING UPON FEEDBACK AND DATA IS KEY Effective training and development starts and ends with continuous feedback loops. Feedback enables leaders to identify new learning needs, as well as sources of frustration and satisfaction. Likewise, analytics can provide real-time snapshots of training’s effectiveness.
- EMPLOYEES AND ORGANIZATIONS MUST MASTER AGILITY Frequent, unexpected change is now the norm in both professional and private lives. The ability to adapt is a necessary skill—for individuals and companies alike—and will become even more critical in the future. Practice agility by learning from failures, as well as celebrating and replicating successes. Acknowledge what’s not working and be willing to make adjustments.
We don’t know what corporate learning will look like in 10 years—we don’t even know what it will look like in five. What we do know is this—organizations that practice agility, master adaptability, and build a people-centered strategy have a much greater chance of success in the digital future.