Surprise! Your Workers Want To Learn

Your Workers Want To Learn: How To Help Them  

As any corporate training manager will attest, no eLearning program is fully immune to the occasional grumbling that occurs when busy employees are pulled away from their work. It’s not that workers don’t see the value in learning. Most workers want to learn. And many do. It’s just that more and more learning is initiated by employees outside of corporate-led training and often on their own time.

That isn’t to say eLearning practices are failing. Meeting the needs of tomorrow’s learners still starts with traditional Learning and Development tools, and while bringing in gamification, social components, mobile, and custom-tailored learning to increase engagement is still crucial, it’s simply not enough. We must also incorporate “outside” learning into the overall Learning and Development program.

Learning Off The Clock

Let’s break it down:

At a typical company, employees participate in eLearning or instructor led classes every quarter. Coaching and mentoring occurs about once per month. Learning at conferences and trade shows? From every quarter to about once per year. These are the areas where organizations traditionally look to increase engagement.

But according to recent research from educational tech company Degreed, while workers spend an average of 37 minutes learning through employer-sponsored training and resources every week, they spend 3.3 hours learning on their own through articles, blogs, videos, books, apps, networks, online courses, podcasts, and more. Last year, 75% of workers even invested their own money into individually led learning – to the tune of $339 each. And when does this learning occur? According to the same research, about 67% happens off the clock.

These are phenomenal stats that show workers don’t just want to learn – they’re learning all the time to the benefit of both their careers and the company they work for. But while it’s clear there’s ample room for driving greater worker engagement, that engagement must extend beyond corporate-led Learning and Development. If most of a worker’s education occurs outside of the organization, the organization must help support and facilitate as much of that education as possible. It must ensure this learning is acknowledged, so the worker feels supported and supplemented, and so the business is supported. (In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2016 report, nearly every CEO and CHRO surveyed admitted they weren’t developing necessary skills fast enough or leaders deep enough.)

A big part of this is recognizing that the pathway to learning now often starts with social and search. When I interviewed a group of engineers, I found when they encounter challenges with a particular task, they first seek guidance not from their managers or colleagues at work, but from YouTube: There, they can quickly pull up relevant tutorials and then skip to the snippet they need – a form of microlearning that all organizations need to embrace. They also turn to other engineers they communicate with outside the company via Hipchat, GitHub, Stack Overflow, and other collaboration sites – many of which allow members to demonstrate their value through peer-based reputation rankings and badges that demonstrate contributions made to the community. (This is another key feature organizations need to start deploying internally.)

Supporting Informal Learning

The level of guidance and support workers can find on such sites is nothing short of phenomenal. The motivation workers have in going there to learn is matched only by the motivation of those who go there to teach. Organizations that can come up with the social learning strategies that help support, track, and reward the informal learning taking place beyond their learning platforms will emerge with a critical competitive advantage: Fully engaged employees continuously applying newly developed skills to support their careers at the company and the growth of the business at large in today’s knowledge based economy.

Steps Organizations Can Take Immediately

  1. Video.
    Break webinars, tutorials, and other video content into smaller trackable segments.
  2. Microlearning.
    Organize these (along with other content) into small, easily searchable topic snippets.
  3. Multi-sourcing.
    Link educational content to other formats (PDF, website, technical review sites like GitHub) for deeper learning.
  4. Gamification.
    Foster competition through badges and leaderboards.
  5. Dynamic content.
    Make content more dynamic using such tools as Captivate.
  6. Mobile.
    Provide persistent, anywhere, anytime access to eLearning.

Some Must-Have eLearning Solutions And Capabilities

  1. Flexible Learning Management System. 
  2. Engaging virtual classroom. 
  3. Video editing tools to edit segments and create voiceovers.
  4. Rich playback functionality to enable start and stop across devices – e.g. pause on desktop, pick-up on mobile.
  5. Social extensions that allow learners to add comments and reviews that can assist future learners.
  6. Audio bridge integration. 
  7. Breakout rooms with separate audio.

Some Engagement Extensions 

  1. EduGame Cloud for puzzles, maps, quizzes.
  2. Mindomo for whiteboarding and note taking.
  3. Video player and playlists to leverage video in the classroom.
  4. Breakout Rooms for quick brainstorms on subtopics.
  5. Text transcriptions for alternative learning and translation (including transcription for compliance purposes and transcription facilitated translation for localization and content dissemination).

Of course, every business has its own needs and worker attitudes to harness in its own way. The very first step within any organization is a willingness to learn how its workers learn. Then, to facilitate and support that learning through a customized Learning and Development program that ensures the learning is firmly aligned with corporate goals.

Your workers want to learn; they want to develop into even more productive forces within your organization. So let them.

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