How We Learn: The Evolution of Employee Learning

The Instilled by PeopleFluent team have published their first ebook: Learn Like You Live: Ensuring Learner Engagement by Harnessing the Power of the Everyday. In this extract, covering the second of the ebook’s four main chapters, the current state of eLearning is examined, along with the imminent challenges presented by changing content and learning expectations.

Understanding the way consumers have driven change in our global and domestic marketplaces should reinvigorate discussions on the evolution of employee learning. In the book, “Managing for Creativity”—co-authored by Jim Goodnight, founder and CEO of the multinational analytics software development company, SAS Institute Inc.—Goodnight says, ‘Ninety-five percent of my assets drive out [sic] the gate every evening. It’s my job to maintain a work environment that keeps those people coming back every morning.’ With this top-down mentality, it’s no surprise that SAS has been named one of Fortune’s ‘Best Places to Work’ for over 20 years.

This concept puts into perspective why executives and L&D professionals must spend the time to cultivate their people if they expect to achieve sustainable success. Even with the immersion of AI into our workplace, decisions about business will always be made on a human-to-human level. We must take greater strides to meet learners not only where they are, but where they’re going within our organizations. 

Whether the task at hand is reskilling or upskilling, employee learning is evolving and a new, people-centric approach is urgently needed to fill the learning gaps organizations are facing. One of the largest challenges is finding a proper approach for our multigenerational organizations. We must also be proactive in anticipating the needs of an emerging generation: Gen Z. 

For a visual exploration of how we live and learn, take a look at our infographic.

The Shift From Instructor-Led Training to eLearning

Over the last decade, the nature of our workplace has changed. Rather than being bound to work from an office each day, employees can log in from anywhere in the world. Other shifts in how organizations function in this virtual workforce include: hiring global workers, utilizing contingent labor more frequently instead of hiring full-time employees, and more flexibility in allowing remote work

With these changes, L&D professionals have had to keep pace by training people differently through virtual efforts—making collaboration even more important now than ever. Instructor-Led Training (ILT) can be likened to primary school students sitting in a classroom with the teacher moving at a required pace to reach learners as a whole. Although ILT is still used in organizations, this more traditional method does not cater to how our modern learners excel. And according to a 2019 survey conducted by Gallup, 65% of K-12 educators use digital tools every day, with 53% saying they’d like to use technology more often. 

This blended learning—the use of eLearning intertwined with traditional methods—has set learning expectations for younger generations in the workplace. However, it can also set the stage for L&D professionals to regain collaboration as employee learning evolves. The mix of technology and face-to-face interaction creates a learning environment where colleagues can share learning challenges, thus creating a collaborative and engaging experience. Furthermore, using ILT to measure where your learners are individually can help you recommend eLearning content that creates the personalized learning experience they seek while also meeting organizational goals.

Making the shift from ILT-only to eLearning is especially important for Gen Z—or Zoomers—the newest generation entering our workforces. Zoomers are now considered to be the most educated and diverse generation yet. As we asserted earlier, adults aged 18 to 24 are reporting that smartphones are their preferred method for going online. This means a learning experience will need to match Zoomers’ expectations and fulfill their need for curiosity, while still offering flexibility.

Matching Pace with Hyper-Connected Learners

Being born between 1981 and 1996 means Millennials are one of the most versatile generations in our modern workforce. They were some of the earliest adopters of tablets, and smartphones—the technologies we all use on a daily basis. Millennials have also made a clear line in the sand when it comes to expectations on how they communicate and conduct business. Essentially, the notion of being constantly connected is more familiar to Millennials, regardless of negative perceptions. 

For L&D professionals who embrace this concept, eLearning can be more impactful and engaging for these connected learners. With a focus on content delivery and employee-curated content, we can maximize the potential of our employees by meeting them where they are. So, how do we bring all of this learning content together and streamline the delivery process? 

According to learning expert Josh Bersin, the answer is: learning in the flow of work. By putting all of our eLearning content into an employee’s workflow, it meets the needs of our hyper-connected learners. Creating an on-demand experience makes learning easier and more relevant, allowing individual employees to find interesting eLearning content as it’s needed. 

The 2019 Workplace Learning & Development Report by LinkedIn Learning found that 40% of Gen Z and Millennial learners want a self-directed learning experience, with 33% of Gen Xers and Boomers in agreement. Another one of the key findings was the rise of mobile learning, which should be in every L&D professional’s ‘tool kit’ when considering eLearning methods. Additionally, the report found that 74% of talent developers plan to make changes to their learning programs to accommodate Gen Z.

As we continue laying out our learners’ expectations, we need to remain especially focused on technology’s evolving role in corporate learning. Although your organization may work with a Learning Management System (LMS) for content delivery and measuring a learning program’s efficacy, the demand for user-friendliness and flexibility has paved the way for new solutions such as Learning Experience Platforms (LXP).

LXPs promise to deliver a holistic, YouTube-like learning environment where users are drawn in through targeted content. Furthering the notion that mobile learning is a necessity, LXP users can also gain support via social media, review recommendations, and upload learner-generated content—all while satiating the multigenerational need to remain hyper-connected.

Continue Reading

In the full ebook, we examine both the wider context of learner expectations and offer some practical advice for meeting their expectations. Read the following chapters for more:

Download the ebook today.

Download the Instilled Learn Like You Live ebook


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