The workplace has undergone a seminal change over the past few years. It has experienced an evolution of sorts on several counts by becoming more global (and mobile), embracing modern technology and automation, and relying largely on social media. This change has definitely done a whole lot of good for businesses worldwide as the shifting workplace perspective has led to better employee engagement and has offered a more holistic functioning space.

On the forefront of this ever-evolving landscape is “corporate learning” or “enterprise learning,” more commonly referred to as “workplace learning.” More and more companies are realizing that encouraging employee learning by instilling a learning culture amongst them is a great way to deal with the vagaries of business, regulatory environments, and increasing competition. Learning has now become the primary focus of companies—and how!

It has been long established that “learning” forms the focal point of today’s corporate landscape, so the spotlight invariably turns to the L&D department; the torchbearer, the curator, the do-er of all things “learning.”

Mobile learning

With 67 percent of people learning on mobile devices, mobile learning is no longer a good-to-have, but an expectation.

L&D teams have realized that employee learning has no limits now and it has transcended the boundaries of the workplace. As Deloitte’s Annual Global Human Capital Trends report points out, the concept of careers is being shaken to its core, driving companies towards always-on learning experiences that allow employees to build skills quickly, easily, and on their own terms. This anytime, anywhere learning (a.k.a. mobile learning) has now become the strongest pillar of the learning experiences. Learning is no more restricted to a certain time-period or place and can easily take place on-the-go thanks to innumerable mobile devices, smartphones, and the like.

LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report too stresses on the idea of modern learning experiences to meet expectations from modern learners. It says that learning is not always a scheduled activity that falls into a learning program. A modern learning experience is one that gives learners the ability to access content on their own terms. This report lays thrust on the idea of mobile learning by mentioning that mobile devices have reshaped how employees access and consume learning resources, and how online learning fits into the fast-paced digital learning landscape.

Traditional learning-management systems are being complemented with, and replaced by, a wide range of new technologies for content curation, delivery, video distribution, and mobile use.

But it’s not the platforms alone that are being relooked at. Learning professionals now have to ensure that the content is relevant, extremely concise, and accessible at any time (read mobile). Echoing this is the CGS 2017 Enterprise Learning Annual report, covering 186 senior professionals, representing such diverse fields as learning and development, HR, organizational effectiveness, operations, IT, global communications, and sales, which finds that 54 percent of respondents plan for an increased spend on mobile learning in 2017 and beyond.

HR, too, is undergoing rapid and profound change with HR leaders being pushed to take on a larger role in helping to drive the organization to “be digital,” not just “do digital.” Fifty-six percent of companies surveyed this year by Deloitte, as a part of its Global Human Capital Trends report, are redesigning their HR programs to leverage digital and mobile tools and 41 percent are actively building mobile apps to deliver HR services.

Truly digital. Truly mobile.

Social learning and knowledge collaboration

This age of disruption has not only made the workforce mobile (and mobile-savvy) but also social-media proficient.

L&D departments are largely relying on social media to provide more collaborative learning experiences to employees, taking into consideration the need to develop employees’ soft skills. Companies are fast adapting to this mode of encouraging self-learning via collaborative tools including mobile platforms. The CGS 2017 report mentions that many L&D professionals take advantage of media and the network of relationships collaborative platforms offer. It says, “For the 85% of respondents planning to maintain or increase use of social media, decision makers feel that the benefit of tapping into collaborative learning environments will allow subject matter experts in the workplace community to share their expertise directly with their peers.” Sharing of information happens through online chats, IMs, and learning management systems with in-built social learning and knowledge collaboration features, etc., where employees can find answers to questions themselves.

The report also indicates an increase in the spend towards social media—either with a view to leveraging employees’ limited availability or to staying relevant and accessible at any time, or both.

Social, mobile, and beyond

Social and mobile learning, in the whole corporate learning ecosystem, also has a lot to do with “employee experience.” The Deloitte report mentions that nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important or important. L&D is now building programs and strategies that go all out to provide the best of learning to employees. In fact, as the CGS report points out, employee engagement is the primary metric that companies chose to measure a learning program’s effectiveness, which companies do by giving features such as speed, efficiency, relevance, and usability as a part of their learning management systems.

While referring to learning and focusing on social and mobile learning, another important trend in workplace learning is that of continuous learning. As per the Deloitte report, L&D departments are now accessing the high-quality, free, or low-cost content available in the market that offers ready access to continuous learning. In an ever-growing globalized and competitive society, the importance of continuous learning cannot be overstated. Employees need to keep a learning mindset as a way to remain competitive with peers, and as an opportunity to stand out from the pack, whenever needed. Companies are now adopting, along with their LMS, new sets of learning tools that provide curated content, video and mobile learning solutions, microlearning, and new learning platforms that encourage all-time learning.

While learning is becoming more and more digital, it’s imperative that the leadership also keep pace with this digital wave. As Deloitte’s report states, according to 80 percent of respondents, leadership is an important issue and 42 percent call it very important. After all, when it comes to agreeing or vetoing a decision on an LMS, it is the leadership in an organization that needs to be onboard for the entire process and has to be completely in tune with the digitization policy. A good, strong LMS will pave the way in providing an enriching social and mobile learning experience to employees, and the leadership should be ready to go with the change.

All in all, digital learning strategies have seen the most significant shifts in the recent times. As the CGS report points out, in 2016, web-based training and instructors were tied at 88 percent as the most used channels for learning initiatives; and video took the third spot at 74 percent. This year, video is the number one channel for learning delivery, and newer technologies such as mobile, social, and microlearning now make up half of all learning delivery. Learning technology is changing rapidly. Period.

Companies have realized that social and mobile learning goes beyond simply using technology to deliver content on mobile devices; it is about knowing how to fruitfully operate across new and ever-changing learning spaces. The emphasis now lies on “learning” rather than teaching, challenging L&D professionals to comprehend learners’ needs, context, and skills better than ever before.