The ideal workplace is the flexible one. Some of that flexibility comes via a flexible schedule or work hours and the option to telecommute. Flexibility also applies to other aspects of work, like how employees learn.
Flexibility in where and how they learn is increasingly important to employees, according to Deloitte’s “Meet the Modern Learner” infographic from November 2014, and that sentiment likely is even stronger today because employees increasingly want more control over their own development.
John Baker, founder and CEO of D2L, an educational technology company known for its Brightspace learning management system, echoed that idea. He said employers should build a work environment and learning strategy with the employee at its center, linking personal and company goals together.
“If you look at the history of learning in the corporate space, it’s largely been driven by compliance activity, making sure people understand the rules of game,” he said. “I think millennials, though, are trying to understand how to develop themselves personally.”
He said this is where the biggest shift in learning is happening now: People don’t like compliance training anymore. The better idea is to have a more engaging learning experience to help onboard faster and to help understand employees’ goals so they have better opportunities to get ahead in that workforce.
Today’s talent is looking for a great onboarding experience, for leadership development and to develop a craft, so learning has to be more focused on the actual learner and not as much on corporation itself.
There are a few specific strategies and ways of learning that fit this personalized approach particularly well, Baker said, like incorporating gaming, mobile technology and short videos in the learning process.
Aspects of gaming, for example, appeal to modern on-the-go learners. Concepts like badging, trophies, leaderboards, simulations and other interactive elements — all of which can be accessed on a handheld, mobile device like a tablet or a smartphone — can help keep employees engaged and keep them learning at their own pace at any time.
Baker calls this delicate balance between the corporation’s needs and the employees’ needs the “sweet spot.” Just as modern learners value their own growth, development and aspirations, the company must value its own business objectives. Finding that correct balance is key.
Equipping employees with a skill set they care about and that also aligns with the company’s goals will ultimately affect the business positively because most modern learners want to be successful in their jobs and do well for their company. Having a dialogue about the right balance of priorities for each party, and setting the right learning activities, is useful for both.
Andie Burjek is a Chief Learning Officer editorial intern. Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.