For many organisations, while training and development are understood to be necessary they are not seen as priority. In the last twelve months, when businesses have had to deal with so much change, it’s possible that ongoing development has not been given much consideration at all, but we know that can’t continue.
Looking ahead, it seems likely that the way we’ve structured and run our organisations has now changed forever. Employees, who’ve been asking for more flexibility and remote working options for years, won’t want to give that up now they’ve proved themselves. And in fact, businesses who have discovered their workers can be trusted, are also unlikely to want to lose the financial benefits they’ve gained, or waste the investment which has made that flexibility possible.
As our businesses have changed, what are the implications for employee learning and why is this something we need to consider?
We’re all learning
Within our organisations, training is often something which is developed to fit a need, and then left unchanged until it is no longer fit for purpose.
Whether we consider the learning required for onboarding, upskilling or mandatory compliance, our systems will have been created - or brought in - to fit the demands of the organisation at a point in time. But our companies have changed.
The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated changes to our businesses which most had not foreseen. We would normally see major shifts in working practice - such as to homeworking - preceded by a significant program of change with strict management. While necessary investigations were no doubt undertaken prior to organisational shifts in 2020, for many businesses the lack of formal plan or strategy will have brought risks which need to be managed and reviewed as we move forward.
Looking to training and development needs, there will be companies loathe to make changes in what is potentially an unstable environment. And yet it is likely that existing systems are no longer fit for purpose.
So, how can training services be improved?
It’s up to employers to ensure their people have the right levels of learning support in this new environment.
Whether the training is needed to support individuals in new roles, learning new skills or maintaining awareness of organisational issues, these are ongoing needs and must be provided for.
It’s possible that organisations have let annual compliance needs slip - considering it less of a priority while workers are at home. But mandatory training is still mandatory regardless of your employees location. In fact, for many workers, the past 12 months are likely to have raised new concerns for which they need additional support. It is an employers responsibility to ensure their teams have the support they need wherever they are based.
Surely, where training is available online it’s available anywhere
It’s true that online training has been the mainstay for many organisations for a number of years now. And with increased use of video conferencing facilities, webinars and the many options cloud technology has made available, it’s possible you may feel your organisation already has suitable training opportunities in hand.
Recording a tutorial and making it available online, running through in-person sessions via conferencing facility, these are all possible - but are they the right solution?
What is Microlearning?
Microlearning is the use of small, highly-focused learning modules which deliver information in quick and effective chunks.
These modules allow users to get a high level or deep dive into a subject fast, giving enough learning to inform and develop skills and knowledge - with the option for structured follow-up.
Key to microlearning is focus, answer a single problem or question in a way which is relevant to that piece of learning - video, presentation, interactive game, assessment or simple aid.
The benefits of microlearning are fundamentally its flexibility, accessibility and the speed of learning. Use of cloud services, simple apps and cheaper technology has made it possible for all kinds of organisations to access these opportunities to their employees benefit.
Flexibility is the key
So, why is microlearning necessary?
Not only are many people who were once in an office now at home, they may not have the same facilities as they once had in their office. Perhaps a large monitor has been replaced by a small laptop screen, a formal desk setup is now the dining room chair and - where once a group of peers could concentrate in a designated training room for hours - now your employee is sharing their space with a family, meaning concentrating on their ongoing training course for two hours is no longer feasible.
This is where microlearning really shows it’s benefits.
Pockets of learning which can be done quickly on any device and which are interactive thereby instilling greater understanding. These are the reasons microlearning is increasingly appealing as well as amazingly effective.
In fact, ongoing investigations are showing that these modules of learning are much more effective than traditional training options. While the evidence isn’t clear why yet, this is one of many reasons why organisations should consider the use of microlearning for employee development.
As we’ve been discussing, many businesses will be considering the usability and effectiveness of their existing training solutions in environments and conditions where their people may have less support for their learning.
Where it is found that current platforms aren’t effective in new environments - or potentially different styles of learning - microlearning offers a solution which is being found to be consistently effective and easy to use.
For companies who need a new solution they will likely be looking for something which is cost effective and simple to develop or deploy - as well as offering flexibility for the user. Microlearning has all these things.
Agility and employee wellbeing - creating solutions for your people
As we discussed previously in How Agile Working is Changing our Future, our expectations of digital capability have changed dramatically in the last few years and it is the responsibility of employers to ensure we have the right opportunities and support in our workspace - wherever it is.
Employee wellbeing is a key factor in organisational success, and integral to employee satisfaction is providing opportunities for development. It’s up to employers to make sure they’re the right opportunities.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. I am an innovation strategist that connects customer, employee and brand experiences. My passion lies in building ecosystems to solve business problems by combining creativity and technology.