Learning in the Flow of Work - How to Support Your People Development Effectively
We’ve seen the world of Learning and Development change fundamentally over the last five years or more. One element of this change has been the increase in opportunities to explore Learning in the Flow of Work (LitFoW), but what are the benefits of LitFoW? And is this something you should be considering within your organisation?
Learning in the Flow of Work - What Does it Mean?
In our working lives we have many opportunities for learning and development; within this field, therefore, there is a constant need to review and evaluate the effectiveness of these learning practices.
When learning new skills or systems, we’ve traditionally asked individuals to learn these systems before working with them (Learning Before the Flow of Work); this is often done in standalone sessions with created data and scenarios. Having learnt in the classroom, a user will then be expected to take that learning into the office to work - with varying results.
Learning in the Flow of Work, allows users to seamlessly access development material while performing their role. An example of this would be - when entering data in a system, invalid data would flag an error but also an explanation of what data the system is looking for.
LitFoW enables learners to develop their skills and understanding while performing their daily tasks instead of taking them away from their work.
What are the benefits for learners?
While people are likely to have different preferences for learning, there is evidence that LitFoW provides a number of benefits to most employees.
For elements of continuing development particularly (building on individuals existing knowledge), enabling people to learn while still working is considered a real positive. Being able to make progress within your workflow while developing new skills provides positive reinforcement as well as creating stronger connections with the new learning because it solves a real-life problem.
LitFoW is better for:
Productivity - users are able to develop their skills while performing their role, when compared with the option of taking time away from work to learn, most employees consider this a positive benefit.
Engagement - learning while performing their ongoing role allows people to see immediate benefits thereby prompting higher levels of engagement.
Retention - providing opportunities to learn simply, integrated within individual roles, can provide your people with greater autonomy over their personal development - something which has been seen to encourage retention as employees feel valued.
Individuals - LitFoW systems, developed alongside and within platforms, can be personalised. On an authentication screen, for example, an administrator may be guided to submit the data for approval, while the same screen will advise the manager how to review and verify the entry.
What are the benefits for companies?
Most organisations will continue to need a variety of Learning and Development solutions to cover a range of learning needs and individual learners. Integrating LitFoW into these systems though, can provide benefits in a number of ways.
Productivity - as noted above, LitFoW allows learners to be productive while learning, a significant benefit compared to alternatives which take individuals away from their work.
Data Integrity - prompting users to review and learn data rules will improve the quality of input data, it is likely this will also reduce failures in later processing which would have been caused by bad data.
Reduce Support Costs - it can be seen how improved data integrity and validation would result in lower support costs.
Improving Adoption of New Technology - digital adoption can be held back by those unwilling to learn systems and others who try to learn and struggle. Not only should an effective LitFoW system ensure there are less users struggling, the platform itself should promote engagement - perhaps by offering incentives to progress or reporting stalled progress allowing key users to provide support.
What are the next steps?
If your organisation would gain from those benefits identified above, then perhaps you should consider LitFoW provision within your workflows.
The development of a LitFoW system will often start by exploring the flow of work to be supported then, within that, identifying pain points. A process which would, again, provide benefits for both employees and the organisation.
Having determined the areas for which further learning should be provided, solutions may include:
Digital Adoption Platforms (DAP) - platforms which overlay your business systems providing guidance where necessary.
Augmented Reality (AR) - creating virtual environments which allow users to interact has been proven to increase learner engagement and promote better rates of knowledge retention.
Either, or both, of these can be used alongside more traditional methods and materials including tutorials and reference guides.
If you’re interested in understanding more about Learning in the Flow of Work, or how DAP and AR solutions might support your organisation, I’d be happy to help.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. By understanding business needs and employee desires, I help organisations envisage and execute their hybrid and connected workspace strategy.
For help creating the workspace you need - ensuring your staff and company thrive - get in touch, I’d love to help.