Traditional learning programs ‘no longer fitting the bill’

by Brett Henebery19 May 2017
The 2017 Workplace Learning Report found that the average shelf life of skills is less than five years.

As the employment landscape undergoes major changes, this clearly has significant ramifications for training in the workplace.

So how can leaders ensure that their employees are not just applying, but retaining, the skills they’ve learned?

Kate Barker, vice president at Global Human Resources executive advisor at SAP SuccessFactors, told L&D Professional that “traditional, staid, lengthy, and inflexible” programs are no longer fitting the bill.

“An increasingly global economy, rapid technological advances, and a more networked world has accelerated the pace of change organisations must manage to stay competitive,” she said.

According to Barker, leaders have every reason to be worried about ensuring that their workforce possesses up-to-date skills that are focused on helping the business compete.

“We need to rethink the way we’re developing our workforce – everything from the learning methods we use to the content we deliver, to the technology we use to deliver it,” she said.

The answer, says Barker, is creating a High-Impact Learning Organization where work and learning is intertwined and organizations that can embed learning in the everyday flow of work which have direct impact on both the business and employees.

“The new research contained in the Bersin by Deloitte report introduces the Learning Organization Maturity Model and the factors that influence learning organization maturity,” she explained.

“The most important factor for leaders was to create a culture of continuous learning as an organisational responsibility, not specifically limited learning to learning and development departments.”

Barker said that companies like Google & Amazon use phrases like ‘Act fast, Fail fast’ and ‘Learn and Grow’ to drive agility, innovation and growth.

“So, leaders can ensure they create the right conditions for learning instead of solely relying on the right content,” she said.

“We see mature learning organizations think less about creating specific, curated content, concentrating instead on creating access to digital learning technology, providing business context and leadership insights, and a culture that supports learning.”

Furthermore, says Barker, today’s employees are indeed overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, so flexibility in where and how they learn is increasing important.

She said on-demand access to information is key, and many employees are increasing turning to their smartphones to find just-in-time answers to queries.

“They also want to learn from their peers and managers as much as from experts, and by empowering employees to take more control over their own development they are not only applying and retaining skills but advancing their careers,” she pointed out.

“We have seen the rise in two-minute YouTube clips as a preferred way of employees to learn quick skills or expert insights.”

However, Barker says design thinking still remains the key way to ensure employees apply and retain skills.

“Mature organisations use the principles of design thinking to put employee’s front and centre is designing how they want to consume learning which addresses all the needs of the modern learner, on-demand, collaborative and a sense of being empowered,” she said.

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