Corporate Learning In The Digital Age: Best Practices In Germany

Corporate Learning In The Digital Age: Best Practices In Germany
Summary: How can companies efficiently use digitization for themselves and at the same time implement visionary learning visions? The German chemical and pharmaceutical group, Merck, and the global automotive supplier, Continental, make it clear how essential the subject of learning is for the company's success.

What The Best Practices Of Corporate Learning During The Digital Age Are In Germany

The digital knowledge society brings many challenges for companies, but also significant benefits and opportunities. The understanding of learning is changing and evolving. Many companies have already succeeded in making efficient use of digitization and implementing pioneering learning visions. Two such best-practice examples are described below:

Best-Practice Example 1

The German chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck relies heavily on innovation and founded an innovation center in which ideas, knowledge, and people are brought together. The development of the personnel is also focused on innovation and classroom training are used as well as eLearning, mentoring, cultural navigators and language training. Further education offers are put together according to the microlearning principle in small modules, which can be selected as required and individually by the learners. The modules will be intensified even further in the future by Merck, as they make it possible to make complex issues understandable for the learners and to adapt them to the individual learning needs without wasting too much time.

According to Merck's experiences, modularization and the following points are essential in corporate learning:

  • Learning should always be possible and always available to employees, tailor-made and tailored to their needs.
  • The knowledge should be freely accessible within the organization for everyone, whereby an increased knowledge exchange is expected.
  • Social and collaborative learning should be in the foreground because it awakens the will to learn and the enthusiasm of the learners.

Best-Practice Example 2

Another best-practice example is the global automotive supplier Continental, which employs 220,000 people in 53 countries. In the ever-evolving environment of the enterprise, continuous learning is an important component to deal with the resulting complexity and unpredictability.

The concept of Continental's corporate learning development is based on 5 components:

  1. Buddy concept
    Here, volunteer ambassadors can get involved within the company in order to increase their own media literacy and that of their colleagues and to learn from each other. For this purpose, especially blogs are used to share knowledge.
  2. Networking
    The company uses a dedicated GUIDE network to promote the networking of learners.
  3. Tagging
    Tagging is used on the network to alert people or profiles and to make it easier to find contacts or experts on a particular topic.
  4. Participation
    Through a corporate campaign, key insights into learning participation were found. To encourage employees to learn and to try new things, it is imperative on the part of the company to demand this with concrete tasks and thus develop their own experimental culture. Failure may not be considered negative.
  5. Reflection
    The necessary software update on a regular basis is no longer available and is considered obsolete. Rather, more and more applications come from the cloud and are always up to date. This leads to an acceleration, which is necessary to keep the software always up to date. Here too, the employees who have been involved in the design of the software from the beginning are taking part. Reflection, ie the permanent comparison of knowledge, is considered a learning process here.

These 2 examples make it clear how essential learning is and how much it is at the center of everyday business life. Learning is increasingly seen as a strategic factor for success. More and more innovative learning concepts are being developed and tested to ensure the success of the company.

Status Quo Of Personnel Development In Germany

Overall, study results over the past two decades suggest that although the importance of Human Resource development and digital education is increasing, skepticism about new learning methods remains high. eLearning is becoming more and more popular, as shown by both the statistics on usage and the rating of experts. However, study results do not reflect any optimism regarding the role of digital learning methods in corporate training.

Although eLearning is becoming increasingly popular, well-known, classical learning methods continue to be preferred by both employers and employees. Employers estimate that the effort involved in implementing digital learning methods in relation to revenue is too high. Employees shy away from the unknown and often are (still) not up to scratch with the new technologies. Overall, in 2015, KPMG found that only 40% of learning methods mediated by digital methods were transferred to daily practice.


The use of new learning possibilities and innovative methods are important for growth and progress. Yet, it's necessary to create learning solutions based on the learners' needs. After all, the best methods will not come to fruition if the learner is not (yet) ready to accept them. This is why it is all the more important to successively introduce innovations in order to give employees the necessary time to develop themselves in line with the organisational changes.


  • Corporate Learning Community (2017): Lernen in Organisationen im digitalen Zeitalter. Frankfurt/Erlangen.
  • KPMG (2015): Digitales Lernen in Unternehmen. (