Organizations spend billions each year on formal training programs. Yet it’s estimated that only about 10% of what is learned in training is applied at work. This is likely a concerning statistic, but probably not all that surprising, considering learner behavior today.

Formal, L&D-led training is still a valuable part of how workers learn – around 70% of people told Degreed they take live, virtual or e-learning courses from their employers at least once a year. But these same people use informal, self-serve learning experiences to support their growth on a daily basis. According to Degreed research, 85% of workers said they learn things for work on a weekly basis by searching online, nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs and 53% learn from videos.

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This data makes it clear that people progress every day, from a variety of resources.  The same survey told us they already invest 3.3 hours a week on their own. But a source that’s accessed once a year versus a source that’s accessed daily tell us people want more than what they can find in the typical L&D course catalog, though.

As demand from the workforce grows, making learning easy, accessible, personalized is only going to get more important. And not just important enough to keep workers happy. So important that it will be the difference in retaining employees.  As Josh Bersin put it at Degreed Lens, opportunity has become directly correlated to employee engagement and tenure within organizations.

So what can the enterprise do about it? Prioritizing growth, development, and learning will create a culture that positions both the company and its employees for success.

There are many ways to emphasize learning as a central strategy but here are four that can take you to the next level and make learning a strategic advantage.

Think about all the times you have launched a new program, tool or initiative in your organization. All the hype, excitement, planning, preparation, team members involvement, etc. Your launch comes and goes, but then what? How do you keep the hype going?

You have one major advantage straight out of the gate – your team is ALWAYS learning! In fact, they spend 4 hours a week on average on learning activities.

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Encourage them to keep going with our top 3 suggestions for increasing engagement after the launch of a new tool.

  1. A great way to keep your workforce engaged is by providing or facilitating  what they need to be continuously learning for personal and professional growth. Consider your day and how you learn and consume content. It’s likely you are reading articles, watching videos, listening to a podcast or audiobook during the commute to work, attending professional events, talking with peers or mentors…The list goes on and on. While potentially outside the scope of what our formal training programs might consider learning, all of this informal growth matters and counts. So…
  2. Keep your learners engaged by celebrating ALL learning and encourage them to participate in the organization’s offerings  by serving them up content that’s relevant to the individual, personalized, and matches how they are learning through different sources.
  1. Better support career development by creating a needs assessment within your organization.  Knowing what is being searched, learned or asked about amongst your team and learning technologies will allow you to better deliver  content that’s relevant to what will have the most impact for your learners.

Research tells us your workers are invested in their personal growth, so much so that they already spend $339 a year on it. To continue driving hype and excitement even after the launch, your best approach is meeting your learners where they are with what they want to learn!

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You are creating change and we thank you.

To find out more of what your workforce learned in 2017, check out the Year in Review. What will you and your team learn in 2017?

We know there’s more than one pathway to expertise. We also know that amazing things happen when we use our expertise to solve big problems. 2016 was an incredible year for world discoveries, learning, expertise, humanity, technology, and education. And one thing is for sure- we’re learning like never before.

As we set our sights on 2017 we’re taking a good, hard look at what we learned in 2016. We’ve collected stories, data, and lessons from the past 12 months, and put it all together.

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So, what did you learn in 2016? What will you learn in 2017?

If you want to make all that learning matter, you know where to find us.

Training is a core function of many organizations, as employees need to be taught a few standard things to help them effectively work within a company, and best perform their role. But how many organizations put the learner first  when thinking about what needs to be taught?

This is the main differentiator between training and learning.

Historically, training is very business centric versus learner centric. We are all familiar with the transactional model of training: attend a lecture or class, and take a test. It’s easy to assume that because this style of training is common and widely used, it’s successful. Don’t fix something that’s not broken, right?

Wrong. In a recent presentation at Puget Sound, Degreed’s CLO Kelly Palmer shared some findings that suggest we might want to rethink our current methods. “Traditional training really hasn’t worked,” said Palmer. “$160 billion dollars a year is spent on training but 80% of what is taught is forgotten within 30 days. Even more astonishing is less than 15% of that learning is applied on the job.”

With less than 15% of trainees applying their learning to their positions, perhaps it’s time we re-evaluate.

Big shifts occur when we put the focus on learning and the individual instead of the old model of formal training and getting a “completed” mark in the LMS. Digital technology gives us instant access to learning, anytime, anywhere. Even if we think about our own personal habits, the internal LMS or formal training classroom is likely not the first place you look for an answer.

According to Degreed research, when people need to learn something new, around 47% search the Internet and 43% browse specific resources. But just 28% search their employers’ learning systems and only 21% rely on their L&D or HR departments. This tells us that employees go beyond what L&D is providing, and take matters into their own hands to find the learning they want in their time of need.

This is not to say that formal training isn’t important, just that the investments and priorities need to be rebalanced to include many individual-focused learning opportunities. “What I’ve learned over time is that it’s not so much the classroom training experience that employees still ask for,” said Palmer. “When together, that’s where employees get to network with peers, collaborate and actually interact with other people from the company. I think in-person training still has a huge part to play, especially when you’re trying to encourage peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.”

The best learning organizations are focused on learner needs and finding a balance between formal training, and individual, learner-driven opportunities that create a thriving learning culture.

To learn how you can better meet the needs of your learner, check out Degreed’s How The Workforce Learns Report.

The skills gap is a vicious circle: people can’t obtain quality jobs, and companies are struggling to find qualified talent. This goes against the basic principles of economics; if more jobs are opening up (and they are), hiring rates should be increasing as candidates fill the positions. But as the data shows, hiring rates are staying relatively flat.

The Skills Gap

The disparity we’re experiencing is called the skills gap. What does a skills gap mean for organizations and job seekers? How can we create balance in qualified talent and available jobs? And most importantly, how can you work to solve your skills gap internally?

The reality is, there are two skill gaps happening. The first is what Jonathan Munk, General Manager at Degreed, refers to as “the Actual Skills Gap.” By his definition, this is the gap between the needed skills and skills that are present. Both employers and students feel the pain: 82% of employers say it’s difficult to fill positions, while 83% of students have no job lined up after graduation, and 62% of students report that the job search is ‘frustrating’ or ‘very frustrating’.

Actual skills gap data

Alongside the Actual Skills Gap, a second gap exists that is less discussed but just as damaging, called the Perceived Skills Gap. This is the difference between what skills employees think they have, versus the skills the hiring managers think they have. Typically, workers think they are twice as qualified as the hiring manager believes. A job seekers overconfidence, paired with what may be a pessimistic view from hiring managers further perpetuates the cycle.

So how can we close the skills gap internally? In a recent Chief Learning Officer webinar, Munk presented 3 suggestions for improvement:

1) Benchmarking

The reality is, we can’t manage what we aren’t measuring. Degreed recently did a survey of thousands of HR and L&D professionals, and while 87% agreed it’s important to measure skills, less than 15% do so formally. We need a way to tie learning activities to skill development, to track and measure progress, and benchmark skills in order to get an accurate snapshot of progress over time.

2) Empower development

Making time for learning can be difficult, not just because employees are already spread thin, but many organizations aren’t set up to deliver learning in a worker’s moment of need. The learning experience has become fragmented with the explosion of content and digital systems. In turn, employees are turning to Google for the easy answer which is outside the purview of L&D. Learning must be consumable, centralized, accessible, relevant and available in a variety of modalities. This will empower employees to develop the skills they need to move up within an organization.

3) Take responsibility

For development to be successful, everyone has to take responsibility. L&D’s role is to provide easy access to tools and systems, managers are responsible for providing motivation and incentives, and employees need to make time for growth and create daily habits of developing their skills.

James Beesen on skills development forming a competitive advantage

There is power in devoting time to internally solving the skills gap. Benefits include a more skilled and competitive workforce, and employees with longer tenure. Successful CLOs realize that their employees are a competitive advantage, and they deserve the same (if not higher) investment than what we put into our products.

For more on the skills gap, download the recording of “Growing from Within: Evaluating and Cultivating Current Employees.”

Many of us work on our fitness nearly every day. Imagine trying to run a marathon after taking a jog just once every few months. It’s not going to go well. The same principle applies to learning – your brain needs to “work out” too. We should treat learning the same way we treat exercise- and make it a daily habit.

There are three parallels between learning and fitness, which were presented by Giuseppe Auricchio Executive Director of the Learning Innovation Unit at IESE Business School, during Degreed’s recent Lens event in NYC

 

1. Transformation  by digital technologies.

Both fitness and learning are being transformed by digitalization. Think wearables. Think reading through a powerpoint on your tablet ahead of a sales presentation. Both are things we likely didn’t anticipate before they were invented, and both help us reach new heights.

 

2. It takes many activities to reach that common goal.

Fitness experts say you should vary your fitness routine for maximum results. The same philosophy applies to learning. More than ever, there are a significant amount of options for how you can learn, and employees are combining them to create their own maximum results. Recent research from Degreed reported that nearly 70% learn from peers or by reading articles and blogs every week, and 53% learn from videos in any given week.
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3. You’re never done being healthy and fit, and you should never be done learning.

Both activities should last for a lifetime. Enough said.

When it comes to both  fitness and learning, the right tools are a critical component to creating daily, sustainable habits. Modern technology has gifted us things like beautiful dashboards that show data and growth over time, contextualized reminders (think: time to stand up!), and social tools that let you challenge or share with your friends. These are all things that make us more productive.

But if we take a step back, we can see that this is bigger than new tech, ease of use, multiple modalities. It’s about the new opportunities that all these things together present. The opportunity to grow and make ourselves better on our own. And the reality is, it’s time for corporate learning to follow suit and empower their employees to take learning into their own hands.

 

If you aren’t sure how, Degreed can help you encourage a culture of self-directed learning, with tools to discover, curate, track, measure, and reward all career and lifelong learning activities. Success for both learning and fitness are intrinsically dependent on motivation which can be difficult to sustain. But it’s important that we keep growing and moving forward, setting goals and improving ourselves as people- and those improvements will most certainly come if we can take advantage of, and create, positive daily habits.

Here’s the thing: at Degreed we’ve created an awesome learning platform that gives people the power to track, validate and find learning from any source. We wouldn’t be able to do a really good job at building that without being obsessed with learning ourselves. We were thinking, what if we gave you a clear picture of how real people actually learn at Degreed? Last month we started doing just that- by diving into our own habits and learning goals with a profile of a Degreed team member each month.

Before we start with our next profile- you should know that at Degreed each employee receives $100 a month to learn whatever they want, and unlimited additional dollars if the learning is job related. This benefit is called FlexED, you’ll hear more about that below. Without further ado,  let’s meet Grace.

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Grace Harrington has been a sales development rep at Degreed for almost 6 months. She lives in Salt Lake, but her heart will forever reside on the east coast. Grace is typically either getting involved in discussions concerning global politics (especially involving the Middle East and human rights issues), planning her next chance to break out her passport, or binge-watching documentaries on Netflix. This is how Grace learns:

What topics or skills are you interested in learning about?

International politics, sales, holistic health, human rights issues, feminism, religions of the world, and startups.

What’s your favorite way to learn? 

Conferences and live events

As a Degreed employee, you receive $100 a month for learning as FlexED, how do you like to use your FlexED? 

Books, classes (I just signed up for a ballroom class using FlexED!), community events- especially Impact Hub and AAISP.

Favorite Expert:

My favorite expert is Richard Falk. He is an international law professor at Princeton and former UN Special Reporter on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territories”. He’s put out dozens of books on human rights, terrorism, globalization, etc. and published hundreds of articles on his research.

What are the biggest takeaways from what you’ve learned in the last 6 months? 

At a holistic luncheon back in August, I learned that cutting processed sugars and upping water intake is better for weight loss than cutting fats. I’ve lost 20lbs since then just from cutting soda, minimizing processed sugar intake, and drinking at least a gallon of water a day.

I attended a lecture at the Saudi Arabia Cultural Center in Farifax, VA in December on women’s health issues in Saudi and it was really eye-opening to some pressing issues on women’s health in the kingdom. I realized that while the country has definitely progressed in women’s rights issues the last few years, there is still a very long way for them to go!

I am reading “Do Cool Sh*t”, and it is a fun book with similar principles to “The Lean Startup”.  I have an idea that I know can revolutionize the healthcare world in the USA, and this book is giving me great ideas on how to go from a conceptualized to a mobilized idea.

How have your learning habits changed since joining Degreed? 

I find myself looking for more learning opportunities now that I am with Degreed. I like seeing how my knowledge in certain areas have grown, and being able to track and go back to learning I’ve done is really nice! It’s cool having all of my learning searchable in the system by topics that I’ve tagged.

What’s the most useful skill you’ve ever learned?

One of the most useful skills I’ve ever learned was Arabic. Aside from the obvious uses for travel and business, it also helped me meet my soon-to-be fiancée when I heard him tell his friend in Arabic that he thought I was pretty. He was shocked when I told him I understood the language!

What are your learning goals for 2016?

My goals for 2016 are to read 2 books a month: one to expand my knowledge of a targeted topic, and one that is more for fun. I want to really expand my knowledge about the presidential candidates, because none of them are really exciting me at this point. I also plan to write an original article bi-weekly and share it on LinkedIn for others to learn as well!

Grace’s Degreed Stats:

40 courses

163 books

164 articles

39 videos

Most active skills: marketing, leadership, teamwork, sales.

Check out Grace on Degreed here. You can also get credit for reading this article by clicking the button below. Throughout this “How We Learn” blog series we’ll be giving you a closer look at how we learn at Degreed, but we also want to know how you learn- so tweet us at @degreed and tell us what works best for you!

Taylor-navy
At Degreed, each team member is encouraged to spend time learning anything they want, in any way they like to learn. We use Degreed to capture, curate, share and save all of that learning. Here are the Degreed features our team obsesses over. These are a few of our favorite things:

 

Create a Pathway 
AAEAAQAAAAAAAAOUAAAAJDBiOTg5ODEyLWIzZmEtNDI5NS1iYzgwLTNmMWJhM2RiMjkzMw“My favorite feature is how easy it is to create a pathway. It’s so simple to be able to create  a structured learning plan for myself, or to package a set of resources into a bite-sized  lesson plan for anyone to see. Coupled with the chrome extension, it makes it blazing fast  to take a bunch of different learning material into a comprehensive path for learning.” – Jeff Okita, Marketing

 

The Degreed Button
20160312_183954The Degreed button has basically taken over my previous bookmark habit. I can tag articles I like and search for them later in the app if I need to reference them again.  Being able to recommend/share bits of content on the fly is super useful as well.” -Becky Hamm, Engineering

 

See what others learn 
AndyEarl_degreed1_2613“I love seeing other people’s learning activity in the daily email. It’s fun seeing that the executives of the company are always learning new things. It makes me feel more confident in questioning how we do things or bringing up new ideas, because I know the people I work with are open to new ways of thinking. Occasionally others on the team will mention that they read something that I had initially learned, and share how that helped; it’s cool to think that they benefited from something I read.” -Taylor Blake, Product

 

Recommendations
Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 9.03.03 PM“I love the recommendations feature.  When content comes to me from my peers it helps me sift through the myriad of articles and Ted talks and spend my time on items that apply directly to my job, which saves me so much time.  It doesn’t take long to learn which colleagues enjoy similar learning and then I prioritize.  When recommendations come from my exec team I learn what their priorities are for me and am able to develop those skills and stay aligned.” -Bambi Buckles, Sales

 

Tracking
“My favorite feature is the orange + button. For me this represents my small learning achievements and goals. Each time I click that button I feel like I am conquering some of the things which have been life road blocks.” -Michelle Stevens, Support

 

See what I’ve learned
sonja“I like the ability to track everything I learn, and find it later in my profile with the ability to filter by category or format. What books did I read last year? What was that article about content marketing that I liked so much called again? Today’s Learning is another gold mine. I love seeing popular articles on subjects I’m interested in, helping me find the content that I wouldn’t normally find on my own.”
 -Sonja Schurig, Marketing

 

 

 

How do you use Degreed? Click below to share this article and tweet us your favorite features.

 

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I have two great weaknesses: gas stations and bookstores.

You know that feeling you get when you turn in your final assignment for the semester and you walk outside and suddenly all the plans you made for summer vacation are unobstructed from the roadblocks of stress and you feel like you have the whole world at your disposal? That’s how I feel when I walk into a gas station or a bookstore. While I won’t discuss it in this post, just know that I have a special place in my heart for taquitos and sugary beverages, both of which are plentiful in the American gas station. That place in my heart my be an actual hole caused by the crap I’ve consumed from said gas stations, but it’s still there, and it’s still special.

But bookstores? Those places are magical. Literally anything you want to know is within arm’s reach. There are thousands of things you have no idea you want to know about within arm’s reach, and I think that’s what gets me. There’s so much potential knowledge, so many stories I’ve never heard.

I remember when the book fair would come to my school as a kid. They would give you that colorful paper brochure so you could order your books. I’ll tell you what, I could have negotiated my way out of North Korea with a pair of Kim Jong Il’s sneakers the way I convinced my mom to add JUST ONE MORE book to my order. Even today I have to give myself a pep talk when I walk into a Barnes & Noble, otherwise I leave with a stack of books and an empty bank account. Books are great, but not sans food and shelter.

I’m not sure I could quantify the knowledge I have gained from reading. It’s like trying to quantify infinity: there is no way to know where it begins or where it ends. So instead of doing that, I’d just like to talk a little bit about how much there is to gain from reading. I submit the following as evidence that we all can and should read more.

 

The Cool Kids Are Doing It

A few years back I read Tony Hsieh’s (pronounced shay) book, Delivering Happiness. Hsieh is the brilliant mind behind the culture-driven Internet store, Zappos. In the book, he goes into detail about why Zappos is so unique and successful. Hint, it’s all about the culture. If you don’t know what that means, just Google “Zappos offices” and scroll through the images. Zappos people are pretty cool. And Hsieh’s book was interesting from beginning to end.

Like many companies, Zappos has developed core values that guide how the company runs. One of the coolest (in my opinion) is Core Value #5: Pursue Growth and Learning. Hsieh is a major proponent of reading as a means of growing as a human. His belief is that if a person is not learning and growing on her own, she won’t be as productive as she can be as an employee. So to foster this idea and help his employees along, Hseih has a dedicated Zappos library.

Zappos Lobby Library

Zappos Lobby Library

Team members can rent books for free and are encouraged to read often. You can see the books in their library here.

 

Readers Are Winners

Abraham Lincoln successfully led the country through its darkest days during the Civil War. So it’s safe to say that he needed to be pretty knowledgable to accomplish that. In his early years, Lincoln was entirely self educated. He had only been to school for what only amounted to less than a year total by the time he was 21. However, because of his desire to learn, he was able to stay highly educated. Lincoln learned a lot from reading on his own. He loved books. In fact, his best friend once said, “I never saw Abe after he was 12, that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket.”

Image via Britannica

Image via Britannica

That love of reading followed him all through his life. In an article published in the New York Times in 1887, a man told a story about his friend who experienced Lincoln’s love of reading firsthand. The friend had the opportunity to meet Lincoln in the lobby of his hotel one morning. As he approached Lincoln, the man noticed that he was reading Homer’s Illiad. After the two got to talking, Lincoln said, “You know a man might as well be out of the world as not read Homer’s Illiad.”

For context, this was during the time of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. The man was quite impressed that Lincoln, in the middle of a very crucial time of his life, still found the time to read for personal enjoyment and growth. Lincoln won the presidency two years later.

 

Reading With Your Ears

I’ve shared a few examples about “why” you should read, but now I’d like to address the “how.” Finding spare time is a major issue for most of us. It’s hard to find the time to eat breakfast before work, let alone the time to read a few chapters of a book. A few years back I thought I was doomed to live my life without books because I could never find the time to sit down and read. But that’s when my father taught me the ancient art of reading with your ears.

All of a sudden, the time that I usually wasted listening to sub-par morning radio stations could be used to expand my knowledge base. My very first audiobook was Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell got my brain making all kinds of connections, going a million miles a minute. I was reading a book a week just by listening every time I got in the car.

What I learned from that experience is that we can make time for things we value. After I got a few audiobooks under my belt, my desire to read only grew. I began making time to read physical books in between the time I spent reading audiobooks. My priorities had shifted, and I grew immensely as a result.

Podcasts 4

And the thing is, reading doesn’t even have to be done with an audiobook. You can listen to TED talks or podcasts and still get the same brain-powering results. It all just depends on how dedicated you are to learning. With summer just around the corner, I’m beyond excited to get back outside with my hammock and a cold beverage and dive into some good books. Plus, you know what that means: more visits to gas stations and bookstores.

What books are on your summer reading list? What books should I put on mine? You can leave a comment or hit me with a tweet. And don’t forget, you can track all your reading on Degreed! Podcasts and all!

“Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” – John Wooden

Here’s the thing: at Degreed we’ve created an awesome learning platform that gives people the power to track, validate and find learning from any source. We wouldn’t be able to do a really good job at building that without being obsessed with learning ourselves. We were thinking, what if we gave you a clear picture of how real people actually learn at Degreed? So we’re doing just that- by diving into our own habits and learning goals.

Before we start, you should know that at Degreed, each employee receives $100 a month to learn whatever they want, and unlimited additional dollars if the learning is job related. This benefit is called FlexED, you’ll hear more about that below. Without further ado,  let’s meet Taylor.

 

How we learn at degreed

Taylor Blake is a product manager who’s been with Degreed for 3 years. Taylor lives in Salt Lake City, and is interested in innovation, politics, history and solving complex problems. This is how Taylor learns:

What topics or skills are you interested in learning about?

Effective learning and product management

How do you like to learn? 

I learn with books, podcasts, audio books, traditional classes, MOOCs, articles, online reading, hands on experience, and conferences.

As a Degreed employee, you receive $100 a month for learning as FlexED, how do you like to use your FlexED? 

I buy the occasional book, but mostly save it up for MOOC certificates.

Favorite Expert:

I quite like Clayton Christensen. He has a way of uncovering insights through developing strong theories and frameworks.

What’s the biggest takeaway from what you’ve learned in the last 6 months? 

I’ve been trying to learn a lot about learning.  I’ve learned a lot about how to learn more effectively which mostly comes down to using recall and schemas to solidify learning. For example, I’ve noticed the time I spend reading things online is less effective when I don’t take the time to reflect on or incorporate the things I’ve read. Using the ‘skills’ on Degreed helps me summarize and retain to make it more effective.

I also really enjoyed a book I read recently called “How to Measure Anything” which was really thorough in outlining how to measure things you previously thought weren’t measurable and how to calculate the value of information so you know where to spend time measuring. I also just finished a prototype course module from HBX on effective decision making. In the past, when faced with a team decision, it seems we often just wing it and use our intuition to come to a decision. I learned that there are clear, well researched methods for improving decision making.

How have your learning habits changed since joining Degreed? 

I consume more information and am always looking to learn more things. I’m working on retaining more of my learning by summarizing and saving the most important things I learn. I use skills on Degreed to summarize things I learn, and I use pathways to organize the most important articles and videos related to the skills I’m trying to develop.

Favorite problems to solve: 

I like solving big system problems. I like the macro view. I also like solving problems that will really help other people.

How does making the effort to learn something help you personally and at work? 

When you’re trying to learn something you are forced to be deliberate, be self-aware, and get outside your comfort zone. While those things can be exhausting they also create rewarding, memorable experiences. I’ve seen that be true at work and personally.

What’s the most useful skill you’ve ever learned?

A skill I’ve been working on recently, which I think will pay big dividends, is to learn how to create and break habits to make the most of each day. Certain things I try to accomplish during the day suck a large portion of my willpower such as cleaning the apartment or exercising. Making those a habit so they don’t drain my willpower or mental energy would be great.

Similarly, the are certain things that I don’t want to be routine, such as the activities I do with my family when I get home from work. By breaking those routines it helps slow time down, helps you make more and deeper memories, and helps you appreciate each moment. It’s still a work in progress.

Learning goal for 2016:

Retain more of what I learn. Complete a Coursera specialization or Edx X-series.

Taylor’s Degreed Stats:

49 courses

56 books

3,161 articles

343 videos

Most active skills; business, product management, education.

 

You can follow Taylor on Degreed here. You can also get credit for reading this article by clicking the button below. Throughout this “How We Learn” blog series we’ll be giving you a closer look at how we learn at Degreed, but we also want to know how you learn- so tweet us at @degreed and tell us what works best for you!

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