With every passing year, the learning and development function ascends in importance. According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report, learning and development rose from No. 8 to No. 3 within the past year. The report also highlights the need to transform and accelerate corporate learning as the third-most important challenge to be tackled.
We can no longer operate on a status quo basis where we continue to model traditional learning methodologies. Learning is disseminated beyond classroom walls, and we need to be creative, introducing nontraditional learning formats to engage employees. There is no magic formula on what percentage of learning should take place in a classroom vs. virtually.
According to ATD’s “2014 State of the Industry,” organizations deliver 55 percent of their learning via instructor-led classes. The benefits of classroom learning cannot be negated. However, it might be wise to ask ourselves whether continuing with our standard approach will equip us to meet the workforce’s rapidly changing learning preferences.
Some 75 percent of the global workforce will be millennials by 2025, according to Deloitte’s “Millennial Survey 2014,” and they favor networked learning and learning through social media. We could lose this audience if we continue to use classroom learning as the primary method of instruction.
Learning is not an event but an experience. We need to ask: Does our learning function evolve and adapt to the changing learning expectations of the workforce? Is learning a catalyst for business performance, offering innovative methodologies to accelerate employee development? Are we reinventing the way learning is delivered to employees and shifting the learning paradigm from an event to an experience outlook?
Here are a few ways we can challenge ourselves to create a nuanced view of learning.
Applied learning: Many organizations have an abundance of learning options for employees. Theeffectiveness of most of these programs stops with Level1 evaluation, except for a few niche programs where efforts are made to track learning and behavioral transference. How can we ensure we take learning beyond a classroom or virtual environment so employees get opportunities to apply skills on the job?
One way to do so is to integrate job aids and tools within courses to guide employees to apply skills as well as cascade learning further within their teams. Or integrate experiential learning components like job shadowing and stretch assignments alongside high-potential training to create solid talent pipelining with hands-on experience.
Storytelling by leaders:Storytelling is often viewed as a folklore idea, but within corporate settings, crafting good stories around leaders’ career paths and what made them successful in their roles can get the audience engaged and disseminate learning by offering practical tips for success. While storytelling cannot be used in all learning situations, it can be an exceptionally powerful tool when used in the right context, such as when leaders share their own personal success and failure stories.
Create communities of practice: Network learning is an increasingly popular concept in corporate learning. It enables learning beyond the classroom, which creates a feeling of inclusion as learning takes place in a group or community. Because workforces are increasingly diverse in nature and often contain employees with different learning needs, communities of practice help employees to collaborate,develop relationships and obtain informal mentoring from support groups.
The aforementioned strategies are by no means comprehensive methods with which to reinvent learning, but they are great starting points for learning leaders to think about as we work to reinvent learning strategy and practices.
Continually innovating our learning strategies will raise the prominence of the function and position learning entities as active enablers of talent development.