Connected learners
Posted by Anagha Sawant on June 22, 2017.

Businesses are transforming rapidly to keep pace with an increasingly digital world. However, their ability to embrace digital depends, to a large extent, on their talent’s ability to perform in this new and ever-changing environment. Employees are having to constantly learn, unlearn, and relearn to match steps with their changing work environments and job roles. And they are having to do this fast.  How can organizations accommodate with learning that is both fast-paced and constant?

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Organizations are recognizing their talent’s agility and ability to learn  new competencies as a major differentiator to stay ahead of the competition. Speed is the new mantra.

  • Speed to knowledge: Employees need quick access to learning, and therefore, the content needs to be “snack-based”—something that can be consumed quickly, easily.
  • Speed to performance: Organizations are looking for ways to enable employees to reach the desired performance level in minimal time.
  • Speed to market: Organizations want employees to achieve peak performance faster than their competition so they can derive a competitive advantage in the market.

But for it to be impactful, fast-paced, and constant, learning needs a framework. Progressive digital workplaces provide that framework through the connections they almost automatically foster among their employees. Connected employees typically seek to be part of communities that share a common goal. They face similar opportunities and challenges, and can naturally learn from and teach one another. In their connectedness lies a significant opportunity for organizations: accelerated and better learning with direct linkages to business outcomes.

Content in context: Business context is crucial—to be effective, learning has to be tied to what employees need to know to do their jobs, which in turn must be tied to what the business needs. Content offered at the intersection of “(learner) connection” and “(business) context,” especially on the backdrop of digital, makes for learning that accelerates the achievement of peak performance. The intersection of connection and context is the sweet spot.

Content that is personalized: As business context takes center stage, the traditional role-based content—whether pushed out to learners per plan or pulled by learners at will—is proving to be not nearly as effective as content that is personalized and offered at the point of need. Connected learners aid the personalization of learning content. For example, a generic product simulation, if complemented with a digital, interactive sheet of “common mistakes” pulled together by connected learners (or based on the experiences of connected learners), can go a long way in helping the broader learner population scale and curb the learning curve faster than they might in the absence of such a sheet. Digital workplaces afford such opportunities, but organizations need to be deliberate about leveraging the connectedness of their workforces and their digital assets to facilitate the personalization of content.

Content that empowers, engages: If digital workplaces typically connect learners, then connected learners are typically empowered learners. And empowered learners usually demand engaging content. But engaging content is a vastly subjective construct—what is engaging to some may not be engaging to others. For example, salespersons might find a snack-sized digital sales simulation more effective, while assembly line workers might value a simple Quick Reference Guide (QRG) more than any other snazzy learning solution. Thus, organizations have the opportunity to accelerate organizational learning by offering learning content in formats—video, interactive video, interactive PDFs, micro learning, QRG, etc.—that suit the learner communities’ disparate learning preferences.

The key is to be deliberate about nurturing learner connections and communities around shared business contexts and goals, while providing personalized learning content in formats most suitable to learning preferences. It could be a true game changer.

Anagha Sawant is a senior manager in the Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting LLP. She advises clients on the adoption of new-age, digital learning solutions for organizational performance enhancement.