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How to Create Effective Learning Journeys that Drive Employee Performance

May 11, 2021 | By Soma Bhaduri


How to Create Learning Journeys that Deliver Engaging Remote Trainings and Improve Employee Performance

Modern organizations prioritize skill development for employee performance, creating personalized learning journeys to align with organizational goals and foster a culture of continuous improvement. In this article, I explore the connection between learning journeys and their impact on employee performance.

What Is a Learning Journey?

A learning journey is a dynamic and continuous process focused on acquiring and refining skills for long-term growth and professional advancement. Unlike traditional training, it entails a sequence of interconnected learning experiences, blending formal training with self-initiated informal learning opportunities. This approach integrates new skills seamlessly into daily work practices, fostering enhanced employee performance within skill-centric organizational frameworks.

This approach, bolstered by AI, personalizes learning experiences, tailoring them to individual needs and fostering continuous growth and improved performance within skill-centric organizational frameworks.

Key Characteristics of a Learning Journey:

A well-defined learning journey must entail the following characteristics:

  1. Is Structured and Ongoing: A learning journey is not a one-time event; instead, it’s a continuous process that unfolds over time, allowing individuals to evolve and adapt to new knowledge and skills. Integral to this process is the role of mentor feedback, which provides learners with essential insights and guidance, helping to refine skills and align learning objectives with real-world applications. This mentorship aspect enriches the learning journey, making it more personalized and effective.
  2. Provides Customized Learning Experiences: It comprises personalized content and a variety of delivery methods tailored to meet the unique needs and goals of individuals or teams.
  3. Includes Formal and Informal Components: It combines formal training programs with informal learning opportunities, creating a holistic approach that caters to different learning preferences.
  4. Offers Behavioral Focus: The primary goal is to induce positive behavioral changes, leading to improved employee performance and alignment with organizational objectives.
  5. Is Flexible and Adaptive: Allows learners to personalize their path based on their individual needs, preferences, and skill levels, optimizing engagement and effectiveness.
  6. Accommodates Ongoing Feedback and Assessment: Has provisions and mechanisms to track learner progress, identify areas for improvement, and provide timely guidance and support.

How do Traditional Training Methods Differ from Learning Journeys??

While there may be many, the key differences between traditional training methods and modern learning journeys can be summarized as follows:

  Traditional Training Learning Journeys
Format & Structure Often one-time, event-based sessions Continuous, multi-step processes
Learning Approach Typically focuses on immediate skill acquisition Emphasizes long-term development and application
Customization Follows a one-size-fits-all approach Tailored to individual learning styles and needs
Engagement and Interaction Can be more passive in nature Encourages active participation and engagement
Outcome and Impact Aimed at knowledge transfer Focuses on behavioral change and performance improvement

Why Should You Invest in Learning Journeys?

According to a study by LinkedIn, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. Furthermore, research by the Association for Talent Development (ATD) found that organizations with comprehensive training programs have 218% higher income per employee than those without. These statistics underscore the importance of investing in learning journeys, particularly in skill-based organizations. By prioritizing continuous skill development through personalized learning experiences, organizations can not only boost employee retention but also drive tangible business outcomes. Moreover, the ability to adapt quickly to changing skill demands is crucial in today’s fast-paced work environment. Investing in learning journeys ensures that employees are equipped with the necessary competencies to navigate evolving industry trends and contribute effectively to organizational success.

In business, those who can learn are able to adapt and thrive to changing circumstances. Companies should find and develop coyotes in their organizations – employees who actively participate in their own learning journeys and contribute to the journey of their coworkers.

Learning journeys offer a dual advantage, benefiting both the organization and its employees. They align learning and development with business goals, promoting innovation and engagement. From the employee’s perspective, learning journeys provide a clear path for skill enhancement, motivation, and relevance to career aspirations, ultimately driving continuous improvement and professional development.

Benefits of Learning Journeys from a Business Perspective:

  1. Customization for Strategic Alignment: Learning journeys offer highly customized programs designed to align with an organization’s key goals and objectives. They are structured to address specific enterprise challenges and opportunities, ensuring that the learning journey directly supports the business’s strategic direction.
  2. Future-Proofing the Business: By structuring learning journeys around key enterprise goals, organizations are better prepared to face future challenges. This proactive approach drives both incremental and disruptive innovation, allowing businesses to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.
  3. Improved Employee Engagement: Organizations that value learning and encourage professional development through learning journeys experience heightened employee engagement. Employees are more motivated and committed when they feel their growth is supported and recognized.

Benefits of Learning Journeys from an Employee’s Perspective:

  1. Guidance for Skill Enhancement: Learning journeys serve as a GPS for individual learners, guiding them through the process of skill acquisition and proficiency development. They offer a clear path through formal and informal learning, helping employees enhance their skills and expertise.
  2. Motivation and Awareness: Learning journeys provide motivation and awareness, inspiring individuals to take charge of their own development. They create a sense of purpose and direction, encouraging learners to proactively seek knowledge and growth opportunities.
  3. Learning Consumption and Application: These structured journeys guide learners through the stages of learning consumption and knowledge application, ensuring that the acquired skills and knowledge are put into practice effectively.
  4. Relevance to Career Aspirations: Learning journeys are highly relevant to individuals, assisting them in achieving their career aspirations. Whether it’s mastering a specific role or acquiring expertise in a particular technological domain, these journeys support individual growth and development.

Why Do Learning Journeys Work?

Learning journeys work in the modern learning landscape because they align with the principles of adult learning theory and the needs of today’s workforce. By integrating technology, personalization, and continuous feedback, they create engaging and relevant learning experiences. This approach acknowledges the diverse learning preferences and the importance of lifelong learning, driving meaningful skill development and performance improvement.

Learning journeys function as a structured approach to professional and personal development. Here’s how they typically work:

  • Initial Assessment: Identifying individual learner needs and goals.
  • Customized Learning Path: Designing a personalized learning plan based on the initial assessment.
  • Diverse Learning Methods: Incorporating various formats like online modules, workshops, and real-world assignments.
  • Ongoing Support: Providing mentorship, peer interaction, and resources throughout the journey.
  • Continuous Feedback: Regular assessments and feedback to track progress and adjust the learning path.
  • Real-world Application: Opportunities for applying learned skills in practical settings.
  • Reflection and Adaptation: Encouraging learners to reflect on their progress and adapt their learning strategies.

This process ensures that learning is an ongoing, evolving journey tailored to each individual’s needs and goals, leading to effective skill development and personal growth.

What are the Key Components of a Learning Journey?

A well-structured learning journey comprises several key components that work in tandem to ensure effective and engaging learning experiences. These components are critical in shaping a comprehensive learning path that caters to diverse learning styles and objectives.

  • Needs Analysis and Goal Setting:

    • Identifying specific learning needs and objectives.
    • Setting clear, measurable goals for the learning journey.
  • Varied Learning Formats:

    • Incorporation of diverse learning methods such as online courses, workshops, and practical exercises.
    • Blending formal with informal learning opportunities.
  • Personalization and Flexibility:

    • Tailoring content to meet individual learner’s needs and preferences.
    • Offering flexible learning paths that accommodate different learning paces.
  • Continuous Assessment and Feedback:

    • Regular evaluations to track progress.
    • Providing timely feedback to guide and improve learning.
  • Application and Reinforcement:

    • Opportunities to apply learned skills in real-world scenarios.
    • Reinforcement activities to ensure retention and integration of new knowledge.
  • Support and Resources:

    • Access to necessary learning materials and resources.
    • Support from instructors, mentors, or peer groups.

These components collectively ensure that a learning journey is not only comprehensive but also adaptable, engaging, and result oriented.

Best Practices to Create an Effective Learning Journey

Here are some tips that can help when building learning journeys:

  • Consider the overarching vision, acknowledging that the future, though uncertain, is always present. Learning occurs over prolonged time and should never been something that employees stop doing, nor should organizations ever rest on their previous laurels. Integrating spaced learning and repetition into this process is crucial, as it greatly contributes to better knowledge retention, allowing learners to revisit and reinforce concepts at regular intervals, thereby solidifying their understanding and application in practical scenarios.
  • Employees go through the following stages in a learning journey:
    • Awareness: Before employees can begin a learning journey, they need to be aware of what is available, how the organization will support them, and what lies ahead.
    • Motivation: While some employees are motivated for the pure sake of learning, some are looking for additional extrinsic motivations. Organizations should set up systems to reward progression in the learning process, encouraging employees to begin and continue the learning journey.
    • Participation and experimentation: Throughout the learning journey, employees need a safe space to participate, digest, apply, and experiment with the new knowledge they’re gaining through the learning journey. Experimentation and feedback loop are key to achieving behavior change.
    • On-going connects: Design learning journeys that include more than formal training events. Develop guides for managers to follow-up with employees on what they learned, implement social and mobile learning strategies, and allow employees to direct much of their own informal learning.

Further, leverage the following techniques when developing learning journeys:

  1. Start with the end in mind:

    Planning is too often abbreviated in the L&D field, a reaction to develop content as quickly as possible to please business stakeholders. Remember what Albert Einstein said about planning: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”

  2. Include all stakeholders:

    During the initiation phase, include key stakeholders and ensure that everyone involved in the process has the information they need. Leaders should ask themselves the following questions: What do I know? Who needs to know? Have I told them?

  3. Build awareness of the solution with the target audience:

    Begin with primers to help them understand the big picture of the learning journey. Include an exposition on the current state, the desired future state, and the differences between those two states. Use microlearning hits that get to the point quickly.

  4. Invest on immersive techniques:

    During more formal training events along the learning journey, ensure effective knowledge acquisition by leveraging strategies that include higher-level processing:

    • Stimulate prior knowledge with which learners can scaffold new information.
    • Present content in the most appropriate modality.
    • Model learning strategies to help students assimilate new information.
    • Include as much application and practice as possible with healthy feedback loops.
    • Assess performance, giving additional feedback to learners.
    • Once learners are back on the job, use informal learning and coaching nudges to reinforce the application of new knowledge on the job. Employ performance support systems so learners can quickly find and share information they need in the flow of work.
  5. Reward behavior change:

    While punitive rewards may be effective in the short term, for effective long-term behavior change, learning journeys should offer employees as much purpose, autonomy, and mastery as possible. Once employees are paid a fair and competitive wage, purpose, autonomy, and mastery are more effective methods of motivation than even bonus models.

Making It Work – EI’s Learning and Performance Ecosystem Based Approach to Create Effective Learning Journeys

EI has developed a highly effective model for creating effective learning journeys in a Learning and Performance Ecosystem. It’s a cyclical model that includes the following:

  1. Capture attention about learning opportunities.
  2. Explain what employees will gain from the learning journey (what’s in it for me).
  3. Leverage immersive formal learning events that employ gamification, virtual and augmented reality, scenario based learning, and branching scenarios.
  4. Support formal events with performance support tools, giving employees access to information in the flow of work: exactly what they need, when they need it.
  5. Reinforce learning after formal events with safe places to practice and receive feedback on their performance.
  6. Provide social learning so that learners can collaborate with others progressing in the learning journey, sharing knowledge and experiences.

Here are 3 case studies that provide further insight into how we have leveraged EI’s L&P ecosystem:

Case Study #1: Microlearning-based Learning Journey

The Background 

A global conglomerate observed that despite conducting their performance review cycles promptly, the performance conversations were still unstructured, resulting in insufficient documentation. They required a new learning program that would cover the different facets of performance conversations, including how to conduct them.

Our Solution

Our solution comprised a 3-month learning program strategically releasing various microlearning assets, including 5–10-minute interactive modules, 2–4-minute video nuggets, simulated videos, game-based conversation simulations, and scenario-based assessments.

A key highlight of the solution was the highly immersive video-based conversation simulation with Gamification features. It focused on building engagement and helping employees and managers practice the organization’s way of conducting performance conversations.

The Impact

Within the first two weeks of launch, we observed over 1700 course completions. According to the detailed feedback forms used to measure critical KPIs like Business Impact, Content Quality, Job Impact, Learning Relevance, etc., the overall score was an exceptional 8.58/10.00.


Case Study 1: Microlearning-based Learning Journey-Description 1

Case Study 1: Microlearning-based Learning Journey-Description 2


Case Study #2: Personalized, Adaptive Learning Through Apps

The Background

A leading soft skills training company aimed to develop a personalized app to help learners understand their strengths and weaknesses, thereby enabling greater success both professionally and personally.

Our Solution

After completing an initial survey, learners were provided with a personalized, gamified learning pathway comprising microlearning nuggets such as engaging videos, interactive content, downloadable aids, exercises, and quizzes. Learning analytics were utilized to recommend additional assets based on usage patterns, viewing preferences, quiz scores, etc.

The Impact

The app-based solution encouraged immediate learning during moments of need while also helping learners improve their skills through robust analytics.


Case Study 2: Personalized, Adaptive Learning Through Apps-Description 1Case Study 2: Personalized, Adaptive Learning Through Apps-Description 2


Case Study #3: A Portal-based Tour

The Background

A market frontrunner in the tobacco industry sought a retailer engagement program with bite-size modules on their products and categories. The objective was to craft a memorable experience that would encourage learners to revisit.

Our Solution

An ‘Open Tour’ concept with storytelling allowed learners to visit product facilities across the globe and interact with fictional characters. Learners could choose their destinations through a virtual map, driving need-based learning, as well as share their own stories through a social forum, facilitating peer interactions.

A blend of videos, animations, and adaptive challenges were used to enhance the learning experience.

The Impact

The program helped learners explore and apply the acquired knowledge in a real-time environment. Moreover, the right learning interventions helped improve engagement with the brand.


Case Study 3: A Portal-based Tour- Description 1

Case Study #3: A Portal-based Tour-Description 2


Parting Thoughts

Effective behavior change occurs over time as desired competencies and behaviors are reinforced through a blend of formal and informal training. Learning is not a one-time event. Professionals seek mastery of their trade, striving for autonomy and purpose. Learning journeys, thoughtfully developed and shared with employees, are an effective method of facilitating behavior change that aligns to enterprise goals and initiatives.

I hope this article provides the requisite insights on how you can use our unique Learning and Performance Ecosystem to create effective learning journeys and boost employee performance.

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