By: Justin Calapp, Ph.D
Ever get a song stuck in your head? That infectious beat that grabs your attention and replays incessantly in your mind usually contains a recognizable and repetitious rhythm. The workday can be like that too—a recognizable and repeatable pattern that makes work productive and rhythmic.
But where does learning fit into that workday mix? Traditional corporate learning is often disruptive to the workday. LinkedIn Learning reports that employees believe the biggest barrier to learning is the lack of time. And yet, employees crave a learning experience that is highly relevant to their personal development. Even though 94% of learners said they would like more time to learn, a Learning & Development team’s biggest challenge is getting managers (and their teams) to make learning a priority.
So how do we handle these competing realities? We have an incredible opportunity to create personalized and highly relevant learning delivered in bite-sized chunks over time. By infusing learning into the workday, we engage the learner and help leaders to lead. Here are five approaches to infuse learning and growth into the rhythm of the workday. These approaches will boost engagement and communicate an organization’s commitment to a learner’s career growth.
1. Create individualized learning journeys that are highly relevant to each employee
Yes, individualized learning may seem a daunting task, but take courage. Even the most basic of Learning Management Systems (LMS) allows for implementing individualized learning journeys. The catalog-style, self-service menu, course-listing method to learning is viewed as impersonal and irrelevant to learners who are looking for an individualized experience. No doubt, it will take some technical configuration and workflow management to individualize the learning journey for each learner. There are some helpful “hacks” to operationalizing this first approach in a manageable way; it’s not as cumbersome as one might think—and the reward is increased learner engagement and buy-in.
2. Involve the learner in molding their individualized learning journey
Creating individualized learning requires buy-in from the learner regarding what should be included in their learning journey. Soliciting input and engaging the learner in contributing to their own learning journey allows them to select content elements that are particularly relevant and can be added directly to their personalized learning journey. To be successful, this should be a collaborative process that begins with a baseline of “core content” already pre-populated into the individualized learning journey. Then engage the learner to add content they feel will be well-suited to their career goals and possible knowledge or skill gaps. This is also an opportunity for the learner to collaborate with their manager and gain agreement on development goals. This individualized learning journey shows employees they are in charge of their own career path, and that the organization values their insights and input.
3. Infuse irresistible, personalized learning bursts into the learners’ (and managers’) workday—5 minutes at a time.
Traditional long-form, in-person Instructor-Led Training courses are quickly diminishing and are often perceived as barriers to getting work done. As noted above, nearly half (49%) of all learners surveyed in the LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report indicated that they do not have time to take training at work. Through easily deployable technology and a “can-do” mindset, a learner can be provided access to irresistible and highly engaging performance development content without pulling them away from their usual workspace—5 minutes at a time. The technology tracks the learner’s content knowledge and confidence level of the content, which in turn determines what reinforcement activities get pushed to them in the future.
For example, a large pharmaceutical company wanted to upskill their already high-performing sales team (700 salespeople) to retain market share during a competitive threat in the marketplace. They installed a Sales Performance solution that included an Artificial Intelligence-enabled, adaptive learning component that was “pushed” to their salespeople on any/all of their devices (phone, tablet, or laptop) 5 minutes a day. After a 6-month period, 94% of the salespeople reported that this solution made them more effective in their role and increased their overall product knowledge on average by 10%. In addition, the learners were exposed to the equivalent of a week’s worth of training and development over the same 6-month period, without ever stepping foot into a “training classroom.”
4. Infuse just-in-time learning and support during the onboarding process
Onboarding takes on many forms, from new hire to a lateral role change, to a newly promoted leader. All these need to know a lot to succeed in their new role, and “drinking from the firehose” is rarely effective. They can benefit greatly from the right mix of knowledge sessions, events, meetings, mentor sessions, on-the-job learning activities, microlearning bursts, and compliance readiness. These sessions are served up and accessible now of need (just-in-time) for the learner/leader to ramp quickly and in a personalized manner—all amid the everyday workday. In conjunction with approach number five below, organizations can measure and report the progress of a learner or leader in real-time, dynamically.
5. Enable success metrics and reporting capabilities to systematically identify potential skill gaps early and rapidly, to solve problems on the fly
Organizations are going to need metrics beyond completion rates and test scores. When measurement capabilities are implemented within the training and development system, they can finally know in real-time and at-scale where and how training is impacting their business. Because metrics are built-into the training and development system, leaders will not have to manually track progress for each employee. Readily available reporting metrics empowers leaders to quickly identify knowledge gaps on the fly to provide praise and reinforcement for high performers. And using widely available dashboards will evoke an element of peer accountability that will foster a high-performance culture.
Revolutionize and innovate a learner’s experience by infusing learning into the rhythm of their workday with these pragmatic approaches.