What’s the biggest challenge you face in learning and talent development? According to LinkedIn’s Workforce Development Report 2018 the single biggest talent development challenge facing employers is “getting employees to make time for learning”.
This is no surprise to anyone working in corporate learning. But how can we make it easier for employees to make more time for learning?
We took some time out of our own busy schedules to discuss the issue. Here are some of the ideas we had. We would love to hear what is working for you.
Deliver learning in the workflow
If finding time for learning is hard, you don’t want to create more barriers when people do have time. So don’t force your learners to login or use a different learning platform, particularly for informal learning. This simply creates friction when people are busy and reduces the likelihood people will access new content. Provide updated content for learning directly where people are working. Josh Bersin recently called this learning in the flow of work. He sees this as the next stage of corporate learning, and we agree.
Thus if your teams work in Slack or Microsoft Teams, or a CRM, deliver learning content direct to those platforms. As Bersin puts it we don’t want people addicted to learning platforms – we want them to learn what they need and carry on working. Learning experiences don’t have to be immersive to be effective. Get what you need, get back to work. This is where micro learning can help in at point of need – more on that below.
Help make it a habit
People create habits in a number of ways. For example one of the most powerful ways is using an anchor, linking a new habit to something they do every day. For example, stretching before or after making your first coffee of the morning or before showering.
In a work context people also tend to have a morning routine such as checking email or slack messages. I personally check my slack notifications every morning. Thus I have added a Slack channel for competitor content using Anders Pink. This channel notifies me every time a competitor publishes a new article. So now I automatically check out competitor content via this channel as part of my morning habit:
Provide audio podcasts
According to surveys 44% of the population now listen to podcasts. Over the last ten years the number of people listening regularly to podcasts has doubled. Podcasts are perfect for when people are driving (22% of podcast listening takes place in a car), walking or even working out in a gym. Audio is a really accessible format and hence you can deliver updates via an audio podcast format.
As a start why not produce a weekly audio update on latest industry news and top tips to improve performance. You can get different people to suggest tips each week. You can source content, add some personality and context to it and deliver a highly relevant piece of learning at very low cost.
The LinkedIn survey also found that 49% of employees prefer to learn at the point of need. This type of content is frequently question based e.g. how do I? The best content answers questions people care about. Thus produce searchable content that simply answers questions. There are many ways you can build a database of questions, for example you can ask your support desks or track questions being asked by both your own employees or on Google. You can use tools such as Answer the Public to see what people are asking on any topic.
Provide mobile access
If you are on a train take a look down the carriage. How many people are on their phone? The recent growth in internet usage has come almost entirely from mobile use. Informal learning such as reading articles is ideally suited to mobile use. Thus it may sound obvious but you need to make sure that learners can access content via mobiles whenever is convenient for them. The workflow doesn’t just mean the desk, it’s wherever people can take a moment to consume relevant content.
Deliver short content
Provide short videos and content to support informal learning. In some areas such it is particularly important to stay updated such as in sales. Thus short industry articles, case studies and blog posts, as well as news about clients, is valuable. Some people call this micro learning (Bersin defines micro learning as 2 minutes or less) but the key is short content that can be read and absorbed quickly and put into action .
It all adds up: 10 minutes a day = a week of learning
Short, micro and in-the moment content makes it easier for people to build a regular consumption habit. It’s easier still if it’s delivered in channels that they already use: Slack, CRM, podcasts, email, mobile. And it all adds up: If you spend 10 minutes a day consuming content like this, that adds up to a work week each year. I’m guessing there’s no way you’re going to find time to step away from your job for a week-long course. But you can build a habit to learn in short bursts and stay on top of what matters, when it matters.
What formats and channels work for you? Let us know, we’d love to hear your ideas.