Employees are looking beyond what their Learning & Development (L&D) departments have to offer. And they’re choosing to learn in different ways from a much more diverse range of sources. Here’s the upside for you, though: Leveraging new forms and sources of content can make L&D more effective, not to mention more engaging.
Can you hear your workforce? They’re screaming for more diverse options. Truth is, we all learn through a constantly changing, increasingly diverse and incredibly fragmented mix of content, feedback, and experiences – both planned and ad-hoc. So you can better engage learners (and drive performance in the process) by leveraging the entire learning ecosystem to give them more diverse options.
The way to start is to think differently about how you define learning. Most people don’t; over 70% of employer-provided development is still formal, instructor-led training (according to ATD’s latest numbers). L&D is still stuck on classes and courses. Sure, more flexible virtual classes, online courses, and MOOCs are all great steps toward making courses more accessible, but they are not enough.
Here’s why: Fewer than 25% of people have completed a course of any kind in the last 2 years – not at college, not online, and not professionally. However, more than 70% of those same people say they have learned something for their job from an article, a video, or a book in the last 24 hours.
What does that tell you? People like to pick and choose different kinds of content to meet different kinds of learning needs. Even though innovative new forms of content like micro-learning, on-demand videos and gamification are more in tune with people’s habits now, simply swapping long-form courses for those snacks, fun and games still misses the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that learning at (and for) work is not an ‘either/or’ proposition. Learning and development are not only formal or only informal; they’re both. We all learn through a constantly shifting mix of planned, scheduled, formal training along with regular doses of ad-hoc on-demand, social and on-the-job learning.
The thing is, a massive chunk of what we learn is informal – it’s through the books, articles, and videos we consume every day, and the context in which we apply them through work and our interactions with our peers, customers and managers. That means many L&D teams probably ought to think about rebalancing their own mixes.
Here’s how you can get started and engage learners:
– Second, increase engagement by building a learning culture that really values informal learning.
– Third (and this is a vital step), engage learners by opening up the line of sight into all that informal learning.
How would it change the learning environment if your employees could see what their peers were learning about, consume that same content and easily share it with others on their teams? How would it change the learning environment if you and managers within your organization had a line of sight into all the learning employees were really doing? It would probably help you make better, smarter, more targeted investments in learning programs. It would certainly give you more insight into the problems employees are trying to solve.
Odds are, your learners are already going outside of L&D to learn on their own time (and maybe even on their own dime). And if you’re not measuring and valuing informal learning, then you’re missing a big piece of the picture. Learning cultures thrive when employees are given diverse options, shown that all their learning is valued, and empowered to consume and share learning whenever they need, however they want.