The workforce is changing and it’s affecting how we all work every day. It’s also changing the expectations that people have about who they work with, how they work, and where they work. I recently met with a group of Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) and learning leaders to talk about the four trends disrupting the workforce today and how that impacts the way we think about learning in the corporate environment. We uncovered four common trends.

  1. Different generations in the workforce

People have been talking about this for years now, but the reality is that we have many generations working together in the workforce today.  By 2020, 70% of the workforce will be made up of millennials, but in addition, boomers are working into their 70s and 80s.  What does this mean for the workforce and learning?  It means that we are more diverse and have greater opportunity to learn from each other.  As for learning, although it may be true that millennials are digital natives and generally very comfortable with technology, the CLO group I was speaking with agreed that the way people like to learn has less to do with age and more to do with personal comfort level with technology.

Judy Dutton, Senior Director at eBay, shared that there is a large increase of millennials coming into the company. The 32nd most recognized brand in the world according to Interbrand in its annual ranking of Best Global Brands, many don’t know that eBay also does a lot of slick things with technology including big data, machine learning, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

In 2017, their HR function is focused on new ways to attract top talent, especially millennials, by revamping their intern program and recruiting from more diverse universities. Their learning teams are embracing a new digital and in-person on-boarding experience, and completely rethinking their career development and approach to development.

  1. Rise in digital technology

Technology is changing the way we think about both business and learning.  As I wrote in a previous blog, learning leaders need to be tech savvy and include a digital learning component as part of their overall learning and employee experience strategy.

At eBay, a learning technology manager helps drive the ongoing technology requirements for the global Talent and Organization Development team.  This new role has also become more heavily involved with IT, the office of the CIO, and HR analytics since the learning technology need is increasingly prevalent.  But it’s not just about technology; there has to be learning expertise among each employee too.

These are just two of the four workforce trends that are changing the role of learning leaders. We will visit the remaining two trends, an increasing rate of change and the new relationship between employees and employers, in Part 2 next week.

When we talk about the value of learning, it’s commonly linked to increasing the capabilities of the larger organization to drive performance, productivity and business outcomes.

But as the workforce becomes more saturated and diverse, employees are finding out that their ability to get new and improved jobs aka employability, is based on their skills. And to keep up, worker capabilities need to be improving all the time. Rightfully so, workers are demanding opportunities to learn and gain new skills.

The smartest CLO’s realize that if they don’t enable continuous growth in-house, and offer a variety of learning experiences and opportunities, employees will leave.

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At the Degreed LENS event in November, learning analyst Josh Bersin shared that career development and learning are almost 2x more important than compensation and benefits to employees. “When high performers leave your company, it’s usually because they felt they could find a better opportunity, more growth, more development by going to work for another company. It wasn’t for more money; it’s rarely for more money,” said Bersin.

And for those specifically interested in reaching millennials, lack of growth opportunities is the number one reason they will leave your company.

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Though a key factor to employee satisfaction, only 18% of the people Degreed surveyed said they would recommend their employer’s learning and development opportunities to a colleague. This is a big missed opportunity and an important issue.  Building a meaningful learning experience has become more than job productivity –  it’s your brand, your ability to attract people, your ability to retain them.

At the LENS event, Bersin revealed there are 20 different things that contribute to an employee’s sense of mission, purpose and engagement with your company– almost half of them relate to learning.

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“Learning owns probably 30 or 40 percent of the employment brand in your company. The issue of how we learn and how we share information in companies is very essential to the employee experience at organizations,” shared Bersin.

People are a big expense – up to 70% of operating costs in many organizations. Investing in them through learning, keeping the workforce engaged is more vital than ever, and treating L&D as a core part of your brand’s success is essential to making that happen. Take the first steps to making learning part of your brand at Degreed.com.

By now, you’re no stranger to the concept that employees want learning to be on their time, on their device, and personalized to their individual position and needs. Delivering a customizable and fluid experience requires unique tools, and the list shouldn’t be limited to your intranet.

Content on the intranet is often disorganized, scattered, and out of date. Yet we see many companies directing their employees to their intranet to find learning content. Typically, companies use intranets to manage corporate news, information and general resources, and you might notice those types of information are usually a one-way dissemination as opposed to interactive.

Learning shouldn’t be a one-way conversation or delivered in one modality or style. A manual, laborious process is only going to drive your learners away, which is bad for engagement and therefore your organization and the bottom line.

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In case you aren’t convinced already, here are 8 more reasons why your intranet shouldn’t be the only place for learning.

  1. Intranets do not personalize and curate learning. These are both key tenants to meeting the needs of the modern learner.
  2. Intranets to do not create high rates of employee engagement around learning resources because there is not much in the way of associating groups, pathways, goals, competencies, collaboration, profile or transcript ownership/portability, etc.
  3. Managing learning resources (i.e. adding, updating, and removing learning resources from multiple sources) on an intranet can be a very manual, time consuming process.
  4. Intranets are hard pressed to provide any type of insights and analytics around how your employees are utilizing, benefiting from, and engaging with the learning provided by your organization.
  5. Intranet solutions typically don’t provide learning content, they just allow you to manually upload and manage content.
  6. Social and collaborative learning communities are not typically found in general intranet solutions.
  7. Intranets do not usually integrate with 3rd party content vendors, LMS systems, etc. nor manage those resources dynamically.
  8. Intranets are not built to include sophisticated searching algorithms to make learning easy to find.

Learning is happening all the time, across many different mediums. To be as effective as possible, organizations need to be good curators of engaging content. Your goal should to be to make learning as easy as possible; don’t make it harder by making them use tools that make success nearly impossible or even worse, drive them away from wanting to learn at all.

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