Technology leaps, hybrid work dynamics, evolving interpersonal and leadership competencies have widened skills gaps for organizations vying to remain competitive. This article outlines how these gaps can be bridged by creating everyday learning opportunities for employees.
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Why Should Learning Be a Part of Everyday Work?
Organizations seeking to remain relevant and competitive are faced with ongoing and fast-paced challenges. These include leaps in technology, team dynamics and structures, and evolving interpersonal and leadership requirements – not to mention quickly evolving industries fraught with disruptive innovations. Faced with these challenges, they struggle to maintain relevant skills, knowledge, and abilities in their employees.
Traditional, occasional training options are no longer enough to bridge the skills gaps created by these variables.
It’s now imperative for L&D teams to create frequent and diverse learning opportunities for employees.
- Engaged employees consistently report learning opportunities in particular, options for professional development as a key aspect they look for in employers.
- Employees who have opportunities to continuously grow and improve are more engaged. They appreciate the opportunities that create internal movement and mobility. Tenure increases in such firms, deepening the tacit knowledge and talent pool available for employers.
- Additionally, companies that approach learning strategically can align L&D efforts with enterprise business initiatives, turning the learning function into a vital tool driving business performance.
Why Is It Important to Create Learning Opportunities?
Because the pace of change continues to accelerate, employees have less time to dedicate to traditional learning opportunities. Many teams cannot dedicate days or weeks to long, formal training sessions. The work they do must continuously move forward without interruption.
L&D teams need to shift their focus instead to less traditional learning opportunities and integrate learning into the flow of everyday work and activities.
Like the unstoppable and inexorable force of compounding interest, employers can leverage the power of marginal gains by using small learning opportunities that, over time, create huge impacts to employee performance and business impact. Consistently applied learning opportunities, even if small in scale, can create a huge impact on performance over time.
How Do You Create Learning Opportunities and Make Learning a Part of Everyday Work?
As L&D teams seek to transition from traditional training approaches, it’s important to pay attention to the power of learning in the flow of work. Learning opportunities that are folded into the process of everyday tasks are immediately applicable and have direct impact on employee performance. As learning opportunities increase, they become natural for employees. They, in essence, become part of the job, not something extra that employees feel are a burden crammed into their already overloaded workdays.
These learning opportunities can be designed as either a push or a pull:
- Push learning opportunities are integrated bite-sized performance support or upskilling objects – these could include bite sized. learning objects such as infographics or active coaching by leaders, and real-time feedback loops on employee performance.
- Pull learning opportunities are presented through tools that store information that’s easy to access, easy to search, and retrieves exactly what employees need the instance they need it. Short videos that are accurately titled and tagged are example of this type of learning opportunity. It’s important to note that content of this nature requires a deeper than normal empathy for learners, what they do, and how they search for information so that the content can be organized in a way that makes sense to them.
Flexibility is key when creating learning opportunities that are part of everyday work. Learning programs such as these:
- Should be available on-demand. Frictionless systems that allow employees to search for information they need when they need it are perfect in this situation. Instead of viewing learning opportunities as courses, L&D teams should leverage the idea of content libraries to which it becomes second nature for employees to turn to when they’re stumped.
- Content libraries and learning opportunities are most useful when they’re not only available on-demand but also through any device – computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Also, such content can be configured so that it can be downloaded beforehand, making it accessible offline. Many employees who work offsite in the field need reference material but have limited access at times.
A challenge many L&D teams encounter when creating learning opportunities for employees is awareness. Humans are creatures of habit and tend to do what they know and are comfortable doing. New learning opportunities, even when designed well, may at first seem foreign and confusing to employees. To combat this, L&D teams should:
- Run awareness campaigns, alerting employees of available learning programs that are less formal than they’re traditionally used to.
- Leverage endorsements from leadership teams. Emails from the HR are easily buried and ignored in already overloaded inboxes but announcements from executives are harder to ignore. Also, front-line managers can, in one-on-one settings, demonstrate the advantages of learning opportunities to employees.
- Offer shareable learning objects – that peers can send to one another. These objects enhance the awareness of learning opportunities for employees. Content shared by a senior team member to answer coworker questions demonstrate the value of informal, in-the-flow-of-work learning opportunities.
L&D teams can also help employees or team managers build personalized learning paths, consisting of the following content:
- Binge-worthy. Content of this type encourages ongoing consumption of content where employees say to themselves “I’ll get back to my tasks after one more video.”
- Immersive learning solutions, which help employees internalize and evaluate content in a safe environment where they can experiment and test new concepts and then apply them in the real world.
- Recommended through nudges. Those nudges can be simple cues that create a desire for learners to pursue additional information.
The pace of business is increasing, as are the challenges firms face each day as they seek to maintain a competitive advantage. That velocity of change is widening the skills gap of employees when compared to the competency level their firms require. However, L&D teams can take advantage of this gap by creating learning opportunities that fit in the flow-of-work and support employee needs.
Learn how to design L&D programs that drive business performance.
Download this research brief developed by Brandon Hall Group in partnership with EI. The strategies and approaches shared in this research will help you create a stronger link between training investments and performance.
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