4 Ways Corporate Learning Needs Have Evolved
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How Corporate Learning Needs Have Evolved

In the 1970 book Future Shock, author Alvin Toffler quotes psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy’s observation that “Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn”. Nearly 50 years later, these words still ring true. Thanks to technology, the world is evolving at a rapid pace. Although this isn’t a new phenomenon, keeping up with the endless stream of knowledge required to understand new tools and processes is still a challenge. This is especially true in the business realm, where skills mismatch is starting to threaten business acceleration. Most organizations understand the benefits of corporate learning. What some don’t understand is that learning programs and learning technology implemented years ago might not have an impact today due to the evolving needs of modern learners. Here are some of the ways modern corporate learning needs are evolving and how you can leverage technology to adapt to them.

1. Learners Αre Mobile-Dependent

According to Pew Research, 77% of adults own a smartphone. Mobile devices have become the go-to way to gather information at the point of need. Pew also reports that 12% of adults in 2016 did not use broadband Internet, but owned a smartphone – this is up from 8% in 2013, indicating a growing reliance on mobile technology.

As such, organizations must start to leverage a mobile learning strategy to empower their learners with the ability to access learning materials (e.g., checklists, short learning videos) as they would in real life – that is to say, at the point of need.

According to a 2016 study by Brandon Hall Group, 66% of companies said one of their top reasons for switching to a new Learning Management System (LMS) was the need for mobile capabilities. In a similar study, Brandon Hall Group also found that “mobile delivery” was listed in the top five learning technology priorities among organizations.

It’s clear that mobile learning is becoming a priority for organizations, but many are still working to put technology in place that will support mobile learning.

2. Learners Are Social

Facilitating learning at the point of need is one way to support learning as it actually happens. It’s important to fortify mobile learning with social learning capabilities, such as the ability to access peer mentors and subject matter experts.

There is a clear connection between organizational performance and social learning – for example, Stanford found that 45% of their physicians benefited from using Figure 1, a medical photo-sharing app for healthcare professionals. Similarly, Vision Hospitality Group, a leading hotel management and development company, noticed a strong correlation between hotels that were engaged with their social learning program and guest satisfaction rates. Modern learners are social learners who thrive on collaboration.

Similar to “mobile delivery”, “social/collaborative tools” was also listed as one of the top five learning technology priorities in Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 study.

3. Learners Are Millennials

Regardless of your own opinions on millennial work ethic, organizations are facing the reality of baby boomer retirement and, as a result, growing organizational knowledge gaps. The logical way to fill these knowledge gaps is to invest in the development of millennial workers. Fortunately, Millennials want to learn – in fact, “training and development” is their most coveted job benefit.

However, a recent report by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) found that 63% of Millennials feel that their current employer is not fully developing their leadership skills. This is leading to a culture of job-hopping among the Millennial workforce as they feel they must change employers for career advancement.

Implementing learning programs and embracing learning technology to develop millennial skills is critical to meeting the changing needs of your learners, especially since Millennials are, quite literally, taking over the workforce.

4. Learners Are Distracted

The workplace is full of distractions and productivity killers. The average employee experiences 56 interruptions per day. It’s estimated that distractions like these can eat up almost two hours of productive time every workday.

Between pointless meetings, a flooded email inbox, information overload, office gossip, and other interruptions, it’s easy to see why your learners are constantly distracted. It’s imperative that your learning programs don’t become part of the noise – they must engage your learners.

There are plenty of ways to build more engaging learning programs. Gamification, personalized learning, and microlearning have grown into huge eLearning trends as a result of the need to better engage learners.

Learner needs will always be changing. It’s up to your organization to leverage learning technology to meet these needs (and continue to meet them as they evolve). After all, the cost of remaining static isn’t just minimal knowledge retention, high employee turnover, or unengaged workers – it’s risking your organization’s success.

Learn more about leveraging technology to support your evolving learner needs in our webinar with L&D Analyist Craig Weiss: Buying an LMS Today to Meet the Learning Needs of Tomorrow. Register now!

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