Learning in the Flow of Work 2022: What L&D Departments should care about?

“I don’t have time to learn” is likely the most common reason for employees not completing their training. This is always one of the top challenges for your L&D activities. So, we believe that Learning in the flow of work is exactly what you’re looking for to handle this issue. 

The concept of Learning in the flow of work

We’re all so caught up in our work life due to its urgency. All knowledge workers worldwide have individual experience at work but still, share some commonalities. We spend most of our time in the workplace completing deadlines, emails, and meetings. 

With a huge workload, the learning ends up being frequently listed as important-but-not-urgent according to Eisenhower’s 2×2 matrix. 

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Hence, instead of organizing corporate training courses for all, how about making learning a part of employees’ workflow? Josh Bersin, a Global Industry Analyst, introduced this new approach and coined it “learning in the flow of work.” 

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So what is Learning in the flow of work?

The idea of ‘learning in the flow of work’ is that employees can have short pieces of learning while working. In other words, they can access knowledge right at the time they need to address any problems or challenges. This allows employees to gain knowledge without disrupting the daily workflow. 

Consider when a business has moved to Salesforce CRM. Their sales staff are required to learn how to use the system from start to end. With the Learning in the flow of work approach, new users can access tutorials,  in-app guidance, and other self-help resources for usage direction. It also provides tools for them to get contextual answers whenever necessary.  

Take a software engineer who is having coding problems for another example. In this circumstance, StackOverflow, Github, or O’Reilly Saffari are some popular platforms available for Learning in the flow of work already. 

How can learning in the flow of work be advantageous?

According to Josh’s research, knowledge workers only have 24 minutes per week on average for formal learning. This is quite not enough for traditional training courses. 

When most employees can not attend the classes, L&D specialists will need to create an environment that encourages learning. This should include adopting new systems or platforms that support “Learning in the flow of work.” 

Learning in the flow of work seems to be similar to microlearning, which instantly delivers learning in bite-sized sessions. But actually, it is likely a mix of both macro and microlearning. 

Each format matches different stages of the employee life cycle. Macro or structured learning, which delivers deep understanding, can be used for onboard training or skill development for promotion. Also, micro or unstructured learning helps to solve current problems and improve work quality. 

Interestingly, Josh’s research shows that the more microlearning happens, the more macro learning is in demand. That’s how we grow skills: when we know much about things, we will want to be credentialed as experts in the field. 

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And last but not least, employees have the same desire how to improve workplace learning. LinkedIn research states that 49% prefer “learning in the flow of work,” while 58% enjoy learning at their own pace.

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4 keys to successfully adopt Learning in the flow of work 2022

Embed into the existing ICT systems 

Embedding learning into your current ICT system provides employees with training on how to better use it for working. Some microlearning platforms support integration systems of  Sharepoint, SuccessFactors, Salesforce, and MS Dynamics. 

This also enables microlearning tools to offer the same learning experience. Their vendors now also provide plugins for G-Suite, Outlook, Slack, or Salesforce. 

Develop the content mix with 4E

Josh Bersin recommends building a continuous learning content with all four following approaches:

  • Education: for example instructor-led training (ILT) courses or workshops. These training elements require a fixed start and end so that you can track them easily. 
  • Experience: including on-the-job assignments, checklist, development plan, and job rotation. These elements are a part of an employee’s working routine. 
  • Exposure: can be mentoring or peer feedback. They focus on interactions between colleagues, which encourages employees to share their knowledge.
  • Environment: any infrastructure, systems, tools that support the learning like eLearning materials, mobile apps, articles, books, etc.
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Ensure learning contents get maximum engagement

Consider all the elements while building the learning content that can impact learners’ engagement. How relevant is the information to learners, and how often are learners exposed to it? This will help you to decide the appropriate width and depth of the content. 

Please note that your learning content should be:

  • Contextual and accessible: 

To provide employees with the right information, you need to understand their capabilities and how they consume knowledge. Besides, make sure that they can find the required information whenever they need it and in the right context. 

  • Curated carefully:

Always source carefully and check the quality of all your learning content, as incorrect information can result in several issues

  • Well-spaced

Remember that learners might forget 90% of what they learn within a week. You should plan to deliver evenly spacing training, which is revised at the right intervals. It’s critical for the long-term knowledge retention of employees. 

  • Precise

Targeted content for continuous learning needs to be succinct, and this does not require too many follow-up sessions. 

Recommended Reading

Build a strong corporate learning culture

We’ve mentioned all the content formats and technology for engaged continuous learning or learning in the flow of work. Whereas employees and business cultures also play an important part. Promote an organizational culture that empowers employees to share knowledge via any manner, such as internal networks or mentorships. 

To sum up

Learning in the flow of work is such a powerful paradigm to modern L&D activities. We believe the workforce that learns and adapt to real-time changes can help business experience greater outcomes.

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