Organizations of all sizes are seeing a greater need for learning and development (L&D). According to the 2017 Training Industry Report, spending on training climbed nearly 33% to $90.6 billion in the U.S. last year. And with good reason, L&D programs help support critical business objectives, from top-line growth to ongoing employee development.
Continually learning is the only sustainable way to keep employees engaged. Leadership is critical, raises are important and titles matter. But we often can’t directly control those things. We can control how much we learn. And if we’re notlearning, we’re either checked out or in the process of checking out. But if wearelearning, we increase our ability to do our jobs better and better, and this is the fuel that powers our career growth.
A Better Learning Approach
So the question becomes: How do we design programs to have the greatest impact on organizations and their desired outcomes?
The Center for Creative Leadership released a study nearly two decades ago showing how the majority of employees learn by doing, by social learning and to a lesser degree by content. While experts may differ on the right percentages, most learners would agree that putting a new skill into action, seeing its success or failure, getting feedback and then trying again is more impactful than simplyreading about that skill.
Yet, most companies tend to concentrate their efforts and resources into content solutions. While content is important – LinkedIn Learning Udemy and Kahn Academy all have great content, the truth is that learning today is much more about context than content. People are more likely to learn if they can easily recall the information and apply it to their day-to-day jobs. So, a better learning approach combines experiential or social learning with traditional content at a ratio of 9 to 1. When learning happens on the job, the context is clear and the application is immediate.
The Investment Conundrum
Because content solutions are easier to scale, many organizations have had to make a rather unfortunate decision about how to invest resources. Do we invest heavily in our top talent, offering one-on-one coaching, leadership institutes and ongoing development? After all, these offerings are rated highly by participants, and the lucky few deliver a ton of value back to the business! Or do we spread some of our resources out across a broader portion of the population, and accept that these offerings will be engaged with less and have minimal impact on the business?
Most of us can’t invest heavily in 100% of our population. But there has to be an alternative way to create more scalable programs that deliver more value to learners and to the business. Designing an effective program that can scale within an organization requires thinking a bit differently than you might have in the past.
When designing your learning experience, first consider the intended business outcomes. This is what it’s all about, at the end of the day. We all have business goals we need to accomplish, and our programs – if they’re to succeed – will help us achieve them.
Next consider the behaviors and skill areas you want to see – or conversely, that you don’t want to see – developed as a result of the L&D program. This not only focuses your attention on the things that matter, but it also helps you specify the value of the program to others.
The key is to determine how you will actually equip people with the skills that reinforce behaviors which lead to the desired business results. On-demand learning that pairs internal content with external best practices and that also incorporates feedback from peers, mentors and other team members is critical. Providing specific assignments allows you to test knowledge and measure whether or not the information is being retained.
Another key component is social accountability. People are more accountable to people than technology. Research shows mentors and coaches are the most valuable talent practice in an organization. The social support keeps participants on track to reach goals, makes them accountable and provides support.
For a seamless learning journey, replace the one-size-fits-all approach. Smarter software powers personalization, social interaction and higher content relevance for users, while giving L&D professionals the tracking and analytics they need to measure program effectiveness across multiple types of audiences.
How Everwise can help
The Everwise platform allows organizations to tailor, run and optimize learning experiences at scale. Everwise connects employees with the people, resources and feedback they need to be more productive and successful at every stage of their career. Everwise enables HR leaders to scale the learning experiences that matter to their companies, and to provide give a high-quality experience to every learner.