Employee learning and development has come a long way since we all crowded into the boardroom to listen to a trainer flip through a PowerPoint presentation while we scribbled notes in our giant binders. With the proliferation of digital technology and mobile devices, it’s no surprise that employees’ expectations for learning opportunities have changed.

Continuous learning opportunities & self-directed learning

Traditional learning management systems (LMS), characterized by facilitator-led seminars or in-person courses, fall short in supporting a diverse, mobile workforce. People learn in different ways, at different paces, and have different goals—which is where technology comes into play. By curating learning and development content accessible through various mobile platforms, companies can empower employees to take control of their own professional development. With an increasingly diverse workforce with different values and expectations—from Millennials to Baby Boomers and full-timers to freelancers—it only makes sense to shift the responsibility of learning and development to the individual, to learn at their own pace and in alignment with their personal career goals and values.  

Although in the early stages of transitioning away from traditional LMS, leading companies are starting to take note. Continuous learning opportunities and self-directed learning are becoming the goalposts companies are aiming for. Instead of playing the role of education provider, corporate training departments are becoming content curators and experience facilitators. By developing innovative platforms and digital training opportunities, they are turning employee learning and development into a self-driven pursuit.1

Employees taking the reins

In order to satisfy the demands of self-directed learning, companies must create learning and development strategies that deliver training that is “always on” and always available over a range of mobile platforms. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, the organization’s role is to create an environment and systems which enable employees to constantly learn and relearn, through self-directed professional development. The HR department takes on the role of coach, providing support and guidance and curating learning experiences that challenge and engage their people. As it turns out, companies with continuous learning opportunities and a deeply embedded culture of development are outperforming their peers.2

Millennials value learning and development

The Millennial generation, in particular, values continuous learning opportunities delivered over multiple digital mediums. In response, companies are adopting Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and advanced media (video, gaming, mobile) in support of self-directed learning initiatives. In fact, growth in these two areas has surged, with a 110% and 130% year-over-year (YoY) increase, respectively, from 2015 to 2016.3

Employee learning and development is the job benefit most coveted by Millennials as they plan their rapid upward trajectory.3 To support the professional development needs of the large Millennial cohort in the workplace, forward-thinking organizations are providing mentorship opportunities, continuous feedback, and apprenticeship programs—a strategy that will pay dividends in the competitive marketplace.

Has your organization’s employee learning and development strategy moved into the digital age? Are you shifting towards self-service learning?

Get more insight into how HR professionals are redesigning the employee experience to support the changing needs of their people in our latest ebook: The Future of People Management in the Digital Age, Part 2.

1. https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/fostering-culture-of-learning-for-employees.html
2. https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/human-capital/topics/human-capital-trends.html
3. https://www.slideshare.net/jbersin/the-future-of-corporate-learning-2016/8-Training_is_key_to_Millennial

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