Learning in the flow of work: A more engaging learner experience
Workforce training was traditionally an in-person affair, taking workers away from their desks or offices and installing them in a highly structured and proscriptive setting. But now, with the rise of hybrid and remote work models, and the growing expectation for access-anywhere solutions, it’s not as easy to schedule this type of training. What’s more, it’s not always practical to do so, given growing business demands to upskill and reskill at speed. So how do people refresh their knowledge and upgrade their skills? Enter learning in the flow of work. This new approach to learning management allows employees to learn what they need, when they need it during their workday.
What is learning in the flow of work and how does it engage learners?
“Learning in the flow of work” is a term coined by Josh Bersin in 2018. It reflects the concept that employees should have access to the right knowledge at the right time – to support their learning goals and needs without significantly disrupting their daily workflow. According to research, “employees who spend time at work learning are 47% less likely to be stressed, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, 23% more ready to take on additional responsibilities, and 21% more likely to feel confident and happy.”
In today’s busy work environment, employees have less than half an hour per week for training, which is not even 1% of their workweek – so training must be impactful, engaging, and easy to access. When employees spend less time in formal learning situations and more time applying new skills to actual work, they tend to be more engaged and feel more successful.
So how do organisations bring this style of training to employees? Learning in the flow of work is best managed through a learning management system or LMS. These learning systems offer tutorials, in-app guidance, gamification, microlearning opportunities, and more – with turn-key integration between systems. LMS systems offer training on everything from management and leadership skills to sales, technical development, and team building.
The 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development is the long-held formula commonly used by trainers to delineate the optimal breakdown of learning sources. It holds that people get 70% of their knowledge from on-the-job experience and education, 20% from interactions with others, and 10% from more formal professional development. It also holds that hands-on learning is the most beneficial. The model of learning in the flow of work seeks to leverage those statistics by ensuring that employees learning plans are seamlessly integrated with work they actually need to do, and with outcomes that are relevant to their business and career goals.
And given the rate of change and digital transformation in today’s business world, learning effectiveness is more critical than ever. According to the World Economic Forum’s most recent Future of Jobs Report approximately 40% of workers will require reskilling in six months or less, and 94% of business leaders expect their employees to pick up new skills on the job, up from 65% in 2018.
Benefits of an engaging learner experience
Unsurprisingly, the top contributing factor to an employee’s happiness is the actual nature of their work. And the second? Opportunities for development.
Positive learner experiences can benefit both employees and businesses in many ways, including:
Increased employee engagement and productivity: The best outcomes can happen when businesses create a learning strategy that focuses on employee strengths and helps workers continually develop their skills and ability through access to varied learning option. And the latest intel from Gallup shows that these measures can lead to up to 23% higher reported rates of employee engagement and as much as an 18% increase in measurable productivity.
Improved employee retention and development: Employees want to learn at work. Numerous reports and studies over the past decade are united in finding that a company’s commitment to employee learning can have a robust and remarkably positive impact upon retention. It’s also more cost effective to train and promote from within.
Access to measurable results: LMS-derived data tells a powerful story. It can determine if learners are absorbed and responsive. It can break down learning plans and outcomes by department and region. In fact, when integrated with the right technology such as a modern ERP, managers can curate customised data stories and training insights from across the business.
Accurate skills assessment: An engaging learner experience also provides accurate skills assessment. For example, simulations and gamification can show what choices learners make during their training, determining which skills they have mastered, and which need more work. An LMS can also derive quantitative and qualitative metrics that connect training to performance.
A learning culture in the workplace: Continuous, engaging learning experiences at work create a culture of learning. That culture instills a growth mindset in your employees and your organisation, preparing your company to pivot and successfully adapt to disruptions and opportunities. It also increases knowledge retention and improves employee morale and motivation.
How to facilitate continuous learning
The currently accepted estimate is that the half-life of learned skills is about five years. Furthermore, technologies, processes, and systems are developing every day, so it’s important to keep pace with change by continually updating hard and soft skills. Learning opportunities should be:
Accessible: The information learners seek must be readily available and as contextual as possible. Employees must feel comfortable trying new things, making mistakes, and looking for the answers they need. Making learning accessible means making sure it’s available as part of a regular workload during regular working hours – and if possible, allocating dedicated time to learning.
On-demand: Whether your employees are looking for content, mentors, labs, or practice scenarios, the right information should be at their fingertips. Accessing content on-demand helps bridge the gap between learning and doing. On-demand learning puts your employee-learners in control, drives learner engagement and productivity, and helps them stay focused on the work at hand.
Customised: Ideally, training should be customised and personalised – there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to learning styles. Consider both what your company needs to teach your employees and what skills and topics they need to learn – now and in the future. As well as allowing for the languages, cultures, regulations, and compliance obligations you need to address from region to region.
Curated: You don’t need to develop all the content needed for your LMS single-handedly. There may be existing videos, tutorials (and more) out there, that line up nicely with your needs. However, your learning system must be the go-to source for relevant, vetted, well-curated content. If learners trust your LMS to provide what they need when they need it, they won’t go rogue searching online for online that may not align with your training criteria.
What makes for engaging corporate training?
No one sets out to create boring or undigestible learning materials. Nonetheless, the development of training assets is often laid at the feet of HR teams who themselves, are not trained as writers, producers, or content developers. Fortunately, today’s HR and training managers are armed with a growing set of tools and solutions that can be integrated into a rich and well-developed learning plan. Finding the right mix takes time, but below are some tips and ideas:
Learning innovations such as built-in gamification tools to motivate learners and improve training with elements such as leaderboards, rewards, and badges.
Integrations with the tools and apps that employees are already using to provide bite-sized, just-in-time microlearning and e-learning opportunities that are effective and easy to absorb.
Access to different kinds of learning, including experiential learning and development such as simulations, role-playing, and on-the-job training that encourage learning by doing.
Meeting employees’ needs by offering relevant, curated content when they need it to drive productivity, increase engagement, and improve their knowledge retention.
Engaging learners in a unified, customised learning workspace that gives them access to the tools and apps they need based on both their goals and organisational needs.
Allocating a portion of budget to communications professionals who have specialist skills and a great track record of developing and producing great, integrated training material.
Examples of learning in the flow of work
Organisations worldwide are seeing the benefits of incorporating learning in the flow of work into their day-to-day platforms and processes.
AKT Global, a provider of cloud-based human experience management solutions, wanted to equip its diverse workforce to collaborate smoothly across borders. Using a modern digital workplace solution, employees now have personalised digital workspaces that help keep them up to date and in touch – wherever they are.
Rich Products Corporation, or Rich’s, is an innovative global food business that pioneered the world’s first frozen, non-dairy whip topping back in 1945. To create a culture of personalised, continuous learning, they worked with a modern learning solution to develop one integrated platform that delivers personalised, on-demand learning experiences.
More in this series
SAP Insights Newsletter
Gain key insights by subscribing to our newsletter.