In February, Degreed, the award-winning corporate learning platform, and Chief Learning Officer, released a joint report How the Workforce Learns in 2016, based on a web survey of over 500 participants. The survey revealed that there are some disconnects between what employers expect from employees and what employees demand when it comes to corporate learning programs.
Could it be that the underlying issue is that companies are not producing the kind of learning content that employees need to succeed in the real-world?
A breakdown between employer and employee expectations
The CLO-Degreed survey indicated that only 20% of employees actively seek out work-related knowledge via their current employer’s learning management system. On average, employees spend just 37 minutes each week focused on employer-provided training, but nearly 3.3 hours per week are spent learning on their own to gain job knowledge. Employees most often seek out information via the internet, peers, managers, and watching videos like those found on YouTube.
The Brandon Hall Group advised that their data shows 61% of learning and development pros think that employees should engage with corporate resources at least once a week in order to remain competitive. A common myth is that employees don’t have the time to learn during their workday, or that they are disinterested in learning because they are "bad learners." But neither of these myths seem to hold much evidence in their favor, especially since many are going outside the business to seek new skills.
So, then what’s the problem with corporate learning?
One could argue that employees do not immediately see the value of the training that companies are offering. They wonder why they should invest their time in the training that the company provides when much of it is theory and not hands-on practical learning.
Lorri Freifeld, the editor-in-chief for Training Magazine shares that sometimes different types of training can be more obvious than others in communicating value and outcome to learners. For example, Freifeld says, “Sales and product knowledge training lead to increased revenue and market share.” There is a strong case for organizational success, but what about for employees?
The CLO-Degreed survey brought up the motivating factors that employees have in terms of participating in corporate sponsored learning programs. These include:
- Expecting some kind of recognition or credit for the time they spent learning
- The ability to leverage their new credentials in a work promotion
- Having a chance to use their new learning in a way that positively impacts their life
How to increase the real-world nature of corporate learning
There are some ways to bridge the gap between what is expected of employees and what employees hope to gain from participating in corporate learning. For one, learning must be based in reality. There’s no way around this. Employees have to trust that learning and design teams can deliver learning that will benefit them in some way on the job. There is no room for outdated concepts or methods. Instead, learning must be easily transferred from the classroom to the cubicle.
Secondly, learning that is based on hands-on, situational training is much more practical for employees. Being able to practice new methods before getting in front of a customer is highly beneficial to future outcomes. Karla Gutierrez, who writes for the SH!FT eLearning blog, noted that letting an employee learn through scenarios and "a trial-and-error process" is an effective way to present training on-the-job without consequences.
Designing scenario-based training on real job situations
The learning and design team is tasked with creating a scenario that comes out of a real-world situation that an employee may experience in his or her job. It’s critical to understand the learner and what these scenarios may mean. Along with the support of a subject matter expert, the objectives of the scenario are developed with real business goals in mind. A number of scenarios can be created, each with a specific learning goal in mind. The scenarios must be skills-oriented and help learners problem solve through realistic challenges they could face on the job.
By keeping corporate learning "real", scenario based modules can provide enough motivation to get employees excited about learning and prevent them from turning to their own devices to deal with problems they may face.