I started my career many long years ago when instructor-led training and job aids were the primary sources of formal learning in the enterprise space. Thus, when you wanted to teach someone something new, you set up a class. When you supported someone doing something on the job, you had a job aid, many of which were used for on the job training along with job shadowing. There were a few times when simulations (like flight simulators) were used to practice skills that were best not practiced ‘on the job’.
Since that time I have seen many new and exciting ways to deliver training emerge. From online learning to micro learning and MOOCS to online simulations, electronic performance support, gaming, webinars, etc. The list is lengthy.
Being a maverick myself I found myself excited to jump on every new trend that emerged. Each brought with it exciting new ways to reach people who otherwise may not be getting the learning they need to stay engaged at work. But what I found was this; we wanted to replace the old with the new, just because it was new or because it would reduce the company’s training budget. Over the course time, I found that true learning was being hijacked by trends in delivery methods and a need to slash budgets rather than facilitating a culture of learning where employees were excited to learn, acquire more knowledge and develop an attitude of engagement.
A few years ago I was contracted to build an onboarding program for new employees of a large energy organization that was engaged in a highly competitive race to acquire the best talent. Both organizations had successful recruiting programs that attracted and secured the best and brightest from college. And both were losing talent within a short period of time. Focus group results showed that neither could provide the intellectually challenging environment that these students demanded. In addition, the graduates felt like they were not supported with enough resources to do their jobs well. I was brought in to build an onboarding program. This program could not be the traditional 3-5 day in house program that focused on things like, where do I get my security badge, how to access Sharepoint, general safety training, ethics and harassment training and how to log in to my computer.
These employees wanted to know the people with whom they were working. They wanted to know who had the information they needed to be successful in their jobs. They wanted to know what resources were available that would enable them to not only perform well today but also in the future. They wanted to be part of an organization that they felt was making a difference and they wanted to know how they could be part of that difference.
They wanted to understand the how’s and they why’s of the business. They expected to be engaged in meaningful projects right from the start. They wanted to feel like they had a say in the future of the business. They did not just want a job, they wanted a purpose-driven job.
This was going to take much more than a week of classroom and online training giving them the ‘how’ to do things, but rather the ‘why’ they do things and ‘what’ they could do to improve the products/services and the workplace.
It is estimated that 70% of enterprise worldwide employees are not engaged at work. $500 billion a year is lost due to that lack of engagement. 29% of millennials (who are rapidly becoming the bulk of employees) are not engaged. This is costing organizations not only in lost revenue but also in decreased production and high turnover rates.
So how do we keep employees engaged, informed and up to date? One of the primary methods of engagement comes when employees are performing well at work and feel like what they are doing is meaningful. People like to contribute and feel valued. Learning is a key component to facilitating engagement. They perform better when they have the knowledge skills and attitudes required to master their job duties. They acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes through learning.
In addition, we can no longer expect that those who ‘finish’ school will have the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to do their jobs in the upcoming year, or even in the next twelve hours according to “Industry Tap into News”… and this was back in 2013! Ancient history.
Learning happens in both formal and informal environments. Both serve the employee and employer well when structured in a way that matches appropriate learning experiences with the right delivery mechanism for learning rather than what is trending.
Delivering effective learning that enables people to perform better is more than simply providing information for people to consume in a convenient and simple format. It involves understanding your audience, giving them a reason to engage with the material, and using appropriate delivery methods.
Let’s take some time to look at the multitude of delivery methods and explore their appropriate place in the realm of learning programs. We support our assertions with the neuroscience that supports each method. Let's get back to real learning!