10 Tips for Corporate Learning


Corporate learning is being disrupted. Honestly, that can be said about any HR function especially with the advent of technology, but learning reaches through an employee’s life in a way that no other function really can. People learn all throughout their lives and, generally, have a thirst for new knowledge. That thirst still exists when a person starts a new job.

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The challenge for HR and learning professionals is how to quench that thirst. In a phrase, learning must be quality, engaging, retainable and (this is the big one) constantly and consistently desired.

1. Workforce Make-Up

Where to start? Start with the make-up of the workforce.

Generally speaking, the overall workforce is made up of five different generations.

Age Definition of Generations
Generation Birthdates
Traditionalists (Silent Generation) 1928-1945
Baby Boomers 1946-1964
Generation X (Gen X) 1965-1980
Generation Y (Millennials) 1981-1996
Generation Z (iGen) 1997-TBD
  Source:  Pew Research

Looking ahead to 2020, WIPFLi projects Millennials will make up 51% of the workforce.

Despite the age difference between workers, each one is looking to grow and develop. That is why it is critical to consider the make-up of the workforce when implementing a corporate learning strategy. Consider the approach. 

2. Communication Style

Most companies will fall into one of two categories. The first emphasizing a unified learning approach across the board meaning regardless of age and learning preferences, learners are grouped together and trained the same way.

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The other approach means tailoring learning to the individual groups and delivering it in a style that motivates each. Consider the communication style. According to The Training Associates, Boomers prefer a more formal/process approach to learning. Compare that to a Millennial who has, preference is more casual and immediate and one can see why considering the make-up of the workforce is an important step.

3. Delivery

Of course, when considering communication, also known as delivery, the focus must be put on identifying the goals of the company and employee needs. Insperity provides a good checklist for determining delivery method.

  1. Start by Identifying your immediate and long-term learning and organizational goals.
  2. Then, establish your criteria for measuring success.
  3. Ensure the option(s) you are considering will work well with any existing and successful training methods you are using.
  4. Think about which format will be most convenient for your employees and most likely to motivate them to complete the training.
  5. Test out your training delivery choice with a representative group of employees to be sure it meets your goals before you roll it out to all participants.

4. Technology

Learning has to be urgent and on-point. It is increasingly used for leverage in bringing in new talent. It is also used, through talent management, as a way to support retention. As a result, professionals are being forced to find technology-enabled strategies to meet the learning needs of a more diverse, multigenerational worker population.

RELATED: Top 10 Learning Technologies

As a general observation, today’s employees are not attracted to ILT.  Instead, they are looking to scalable options that can provide learning that is easily digested, engaging and informative. When great content is mixed with great technology, learning can reach and meet every employee where they are.

In a survey conducted by the CLO Exchange with Chief Learning Officers, 40% of executives reported that they are investing in mobile learning. What other technologies are CLOs investing in?

Mobile Learning – 40%
AR / VR – 38%
Video Learning – 33%
Simulations – 33%
Gamification – 29%
Micro-Adaptive Learning – 29%
eLearning – 29%
Design Thinking – 29%
Source:  IQPC Exchange/CLO Exchange

5. Embedded Learning

Learning, generally speaking, is not a normal part of the day for the average employee. In most situations, employees have to devote a specific time or part of the day to learning. If it is embedded, it becomes part of the day-to-day activities of the employee.

Once learning is embedded, it offers a real opportunity for employees to learn through experience and reflection, something Casper Moerck, Head of Learning Technologies and Digitalization at Americas at Siemens, believes in firmly. In fact, that is the strategy they take within his company.

“I think for me, as a person who is in learning technology, one of the things I’m really happy to see is how we are leveraging content curation of digital content to really provide some good experiences for our employees,” Moerck said.

6. Content

While all of the above tips are important, none of them really matter if the content is not up to par. Content must be diverse, but it must also be relevant and assessable whenever and wherever the employee needs it, can be learned at any pace, is optimized for shared and social learning, can be used on-the-job and evolves with the learner. 

7. Embrace Agility

As with everything, learning is constantly changing and that requires HR and learning professionals change with it. This is commonly referred to as agility. Unfortunately, not all companies embrace the idea of agility. As a result, many cannot keep up with the needs of the current workforce or those of the future, which include flexible, blended modes of content delivery.

Being agile means embracing and embedding a variety of training modalities into the current learning programs.

One of the best examples of this is Walmart eCommerce, which includes Walmart.com, Jet.com and the Walmart grocery. Maxanne Whitehead is a Senior Learning Designer with Walmart eCommerce.  Her team works on designing learning on a global scale.

“What we’re focusing on,” Whitehead said, “is taking this blended learning approach, which didn’t exist two years ago. When I came into walmart.com, it was 600 PowerPoint slides. So we’ve already made some big changes, just by adding that blended learning and reducing classroom time, in some cases from eight weeks down to four weeks. From that, we saw a shrink in the amount of time our customer care agents were on calls, our customer satisfaction percentages go up, so we saw them return in our metrics for those successes.”

8. Learner Feedback

Feedback should be solicited from learners.  Ultimately, learning leaders not only need this feedback to determine what is and what isn’t working, but to help ensure learning content is sought after by the learner and received in the way that best meets them where they are in their current development journey.

9. Align Learning with the Business

Learning must align with the goals of the business. In fact, learning plays a huge role in supporting the business. In order to do this, efront learning suggests these six steps:

  1. Identify the strategic business objectives
  2. Define performance results necessary to achieve the objectives
  3. Identify roles, tasks and competency areas to be measured
  4. Evaluate gaps and set learning goals
  5. Communicate the goals to employees
  6. Design and develop training to meat the goals.

10. Leadership Buy-In

Now leaders have a culture all their own and, as often is the case, learning is not part of it and that means it goes ignored when it comes to the business strategy. That must change.

The way to change it focuses on the learning to which leaders themselves have access. Using leadership development programs can entice leaders to take ownership of learning and align it to the business.

A great example would be NBC Universal’s LEAD program. It was created for the sole purpose of making sure leaders have continued opportunities to grow and develop. This program is directly tied to the business.

“These really exciting cohorts for leaders are created at the request of a business or portfolio. LEADS are designed under the 80/20 rule,” Morley said. “So 80% of the content is part of a cohort and then we work with the business to customize the remaining 20%. The 20% uses provided content, and includes the executive sponsor bringing in a panel of leaders that us the language and the culture of that particular business.  From that we design a great three-day leadership experience that’s informed by the business itself.”

It has been very successful.  In fact, NBC Universal has completed 50 LEADS since 2014.  The reason for the success is that leaders are requesting these LEADS for their teams that ultimately drive the business through change.

In Summation

Remember, corporate learning is not just about making workers more productive.  That is certainly a piece of it, but it is also about creating an environment where employees have access to a consistent stream of content.  As employees learn and develop, they will become more productive employees, but they will also be more engaged and more committed to the overall success of the business.  And that’s a lesson everyone should walk away with.

HR Exchange Live: Corporate Learning

Want more to learning more about corporate learning?  Sign up for HR Exchange Live:  Corporate Learning.  The free-to-attend online event brings together HR and learning professionals from around the U.S.  It’s scheduled for September 17-18, 2019.  Sign up for free here.

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