There’s no hiding it anymore. Organizations are waking up to the fact that, done wrong, corporate training is a frustrating experience—for everyone. Employees are tired of massive information dumps. Learning leaders are demoralized by shrinking engagement levels. And bigwig execs are disgruntled by training investments that aren’t paying off.
There is a better way.
What if you could transform the employee learning experience from dull and paralyzing to exciting and fulfilling—while building knowledge alongside the bottom line? What if you could give training managers and executives the tools to enable them to directly measure the impact their training is having on both job behavior and the organization? What if learning leaders could drive a learning culture that encouraged ongoing knowledge-building to boost performance?
This is part of what it means to modernize learning. It’s about putting laser focus on the needs of the business and how to propel it forward. This includes new technologies, new methods, and new ways of thinking about learning.
How to modernize your learning ecosystem
The corporate learning industry is at a tipping point. There’s an immense shift happening in the way businesses approach training. The pieces are in place: We have the technology, and both L&D leaders and the workforce are hungry for change. But to truly modernize the corporate learning ecosystem, we need to get a few things right first.
Change your organization’s learning philosophy
The first thing to go should be the content-first mentality. It may be hard to flip this traditional mindset, but designing a training program around what information you think your employees should know is all backward. Instead, you need to start with understanding the objectives business leaders want to achieve. Then, you need to figure out the training content to help them get there. This is what will drive your organization’s success. It’s what will also drive your workers’ and your training program’s success. When you identify the behaviors that your employees need to exhibit to be successful in their jobs, and the knowledge they need to have in order to consistently practice those behaviors, results will definitely follow.
There’s also a bounty of research out there about how the brain works, and you don’t need to be a neuroscientist to use it. This brain science looks closely at how people learn best and helps lay out which techniques are most effective for training. Much of the current science challenges traditional learning methods—people just can’t remember most of the information after sitting in a classroom for hours at a time. What does work? Microlearning, spaced repetition, gamification, repeated retrieval, and confidence-based assessments. They all show great results when it comes to boosting employee brainpower and translating that knowledge to the job.
Tap into collective wisdom
Traditionally, training has been top-down—starting with L&D. But there is tons of company knowledge that either gets lost or fragmented in departmental siloes. Instead of letting this information remain hidden, open up the channels of communication to create a common pool of knowledge that’s accessible to everyone. By enabling employees to share, you’ll not only strengthen any formal training programs you have in place, but also allow them to take advantage of the collective wisdom of the group so they can do even bigger and better things for the business.
Use the right tools
Just because the LMS has been the standard doesn’t mean you need to follow it. Pretty much every L&D leader has complaints about its limitations, so why settle? Today’s employees want learning technology that emulates the tools they use every day. The best learning solutions take inspiration from popular technologies like Google, YouTube, and Pinterest to make learning accessible, mobile, bite-sized, and fun. Go to any of the major learning conferences to get a taste for what’s available. The more engaging the solution, the better your results will be.
Make information accessible on demand
It happens to all of us. We’re in the middle of doing a job when, suddenly, we need to look up something we don’t know or can’t remember. While there’s critical information we need top of mind to perform regular tasks, sometimes there’s other information that we need to reference only once in a while. The problem is, most companies don’t have an easy way for employees to access essential information. So, employees either make incorrect assumptions or waste hours of time conducting endless searches for documentation. By creating a central repository where employees have “anytime, anywhere” access to the tools and resources they need to do their jobs, you can boost productivity and performance significantly.
Create a culture of learning
Training used to be an isolated event. Not anymore! In a modern environment, training happens every single day and the learning never stops. This ensures employees can keep up with the constant changes happening in today’s fast-paced work environment without feeling overwhelmed. Plus, by engaging with daily microlearning, employees build their knowledge and expertise over time without interfering with their regular tasks. And they can continue to learn no matter where they are—in the office, working remotely, or even traveling across the globe.
Personalize the experience
Today, everything is personalized—from recommendations you receive during your shopping experience on Amazon to the beverage combo you can choose at Starbucks. Employees have come to expect this individual treatment, so modern learning needs to follow suit. Make sure employees receive training only in areas and topics that reflect their needs. By meeting learners where they are, and designing a training process that adapts to and respects their individual needs, training managers ensure that employees are never taking in information that they already know or that’s irrelevant to them.
Drive up engagement
Bluntly put, training that’s boring doesn’t work. Employees simply tune out. By using gamification techniques like leaderboards and rewards, and delivering training through game-based play, not only do you increase engagement—the key to any successful training program—but learners are also more focused during training and so are more likely to retain what they’re taking in.
Experiment with various content formats
The invention of social media has meant we’re getting used to micro-sized content. Employees’ eyes glaze over when they’re forced to read lengthy documents or participate in hour-long courses, and most of the material doesn’t sink in. To keep employees’ attention, experiment with chunking up content into smaller pieces as well as using content formats that make the most sense for the material. For example, a video will likely work better than text to show an employee how to use a ladder properly. But, for reinforcing safe ladder practices, microlearning modules that ask employees text-based questions will help test understanding and encourage them to remember to take the right actions on the job.
The evolution is inevitable
The time is ripe for change in corporate learning, and there’s no stopping it. While the transformation won’t happen overnight, there’s no better time to kick-start the process. Your efforts will pay back in spades: more knowledgeable employees, increased engagement, better performance, and stronger business results. What better reason to evolve than that?