How to avoid employees ‘learning through Google’

Are your L&D programs wasting employees’ time? That’s a frank question that all HR and L&D leaders should be asking themselves, says Simon Greany, founder and chief product officer at e-learning platform Elucidat.

To get the most out of their L&D, leaders need to shift perspective and examine current training through the lens of a marketer or product owner: Use data to evaluate the business impact; rely on iterative development cycles to solicit board and employee feedback, and utilize control groups for comparisons.

“Look at all the programs you are managing and ask whether you are setting up your employees and organization for success or just ticking a box,” says Greany. If the approach falls under the latter, employees may feel like they lack support and resort to Googling to carry out their jobs.

Democratizing the development of L&D programs—by bringing together perspectives and voices from across the organization—can heighten their effectiveness, while also increasing employee ownership, he adds.

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Simon Greany

And now is the time to move. Recent research has shown that the appetite for learning—both on the part of employees and employers—is high amid the upheaval of the pandemic. For instance, a LinkedIn report this spring found that employees increased the amount of time they spent on corporate learning by 130% between February and April. More than two-thirds of L&D professionals polled said reskilling current talent to address skills gaps has taken on record importance, and it’s an area that has C-suite support: L&D leaders reported a 159% increase in CEOs championing L&D at their organizations.

Related: Why coaching is exploding since COVID-19

“We are seeing that organizations are having to respond to change more quickly than ever,” Greany says. “As the laws and rules change quickly, organizations need to get used to communicating these clearly so that employees are supported properly. Employees are increasingly taking a more proactive role in learning and development and, through our own system, we actually saw a surge in learning during the first lockdown.”

Prior to the pandemic, while digital learning was on the rise, Greany says, face-to-face L&D still dominated; that approach was based on “outdated” ideas about virtual training and a dearth of digital skills and corresponding programs, he adds.

The shift to remote, however, necessitated digital L&D transformations. At first, those were knee-jerk and centered on replicating real-world training for virtual settings—one-way presentations, lectures and PowerPoints—an approach that Greany says neglects the opportunity of virtual training.

Throughout the summer, a shift occurred. Among online learning methods, virtual, instructor-led training (VILT) dropped from a high of 67% in the spring to 36% a few months later, according to the Brandon Hall Group.

While VILT programs remain popular, organizations are also increasingly looking to other modalities, like e-learning, going forward, says Greany.

“[Future virtual training] will be highly modular—easily personalized to groups or individuals to use time effectively,” he says. It will be more blended, with digital merging into real-life experiences. It will also be more mobile and available on more channels, he adds.

See also: How to prioritize L&D in times of change

“Asynchronous learning, polling, personalized learning journeys, just in time, simulation are just a few examples,” Greany says, “of how digital can open up a richer and more personalized experience.”

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