Workplace learning is critical to an organization’s ability to acquire needed skills in a competitive external talent market. However, to fulfill the goal of lifelong learning, companies must integrate it into the flow of work and the flow of life. Why? Lifelong learning has progressed to become an economic requirement as automation, AI, and new work models reshape the business environment.

lifelong learning

Eighty percent of CEOs today consider the need for new talents to be their most pressing corporate issue. According to the same study, employee growth opportunities are now the second most significant determinant in workplace happiness (after the nature of the work itself).

At our most basic level, we are a neotenic species, born with the desire to learn throughout our lives. So it’s understandable that we’re always looking for methods to improve our job; indeed, the growth mindset movement is predicated on this human urge.

The main challenge in 2019’s Global Human Capital Trends is learning. People increasingly consider the “opportunity to learn” one of the most important factors in choosing a job. Business executives recognize that changes in technology, longevity, work habits, and business models have created a huge demand for ongoing, lifelong learning.

Leading companies are taking steps to deliver learning to their employees more personally, integrating work and learning more closely together, extending learning ownership beyond the HR department, and looking for ways to incorporate solutions we use in our daily lives into the workplace learning environment.

Lifelong Learning in the Flow of Work: The New Organizational Ecosystem

The necessity of work always takes precedence over the luxury of learning. Employees squander one-third of their day on emails that have little or nothing to do with their professions, according to a recent survey conducted by HBR and LinkedIn. Companies rarely use the standard corporate learning portal (learning management system), save for mandated compliance training. And finding what you need often requires several clicks.

As a result, learning is demoted to the important but not urgent quadrant of Eisenhower’s 22-Matrix, both consciously and subconsciously. Knowledge professionals devote only five minutes every day to formal learning on average. We’re all too engrossed in the unstoppable flood of work.

Additionally, rapid and ongoing changes like work are altering the link between learning and work, bringing them closer together than ever before. This presents both a problem and an opportunity to develop effective work-centered learning programs that assist people in consuming information and upgrading their skills in the course of their daily work.

To assist in this endeavor, we believe a new paradigm may emerge, inspired by the recent growth in information technology development. IT teams have moved from sequential, “waterfall” design-develop-test-operate models to new agile models, which integrate system design, development, security, testing, and operations into a team-based, connected process as the pace of technological change has accelerated.

Similarly, we expect new approaches to merging learning and work to emerge, potentially combining development and work, based on the notion that learning and work are two sides of every job that are always connected. We expect business and HR leaders to look for ways to incorporate real-time learning and knowledge management into the workplace to help facilitate the formation of this ecosystem.

Organizations will be able to experiment with novel ways to deliver virtual learning — in which learning occurs in small doses, almost imperceptibly, throughout the workday, as cloud-connected mobile and wearable devices become almost ubiquitous, as well as the arrival of augmented reality gadgets.

The future workplace will make learning more personalized by tailoring it to the individual and making it available at convenient times and in convenient formats to learn on their own time. With a rising number of learning providers now delivering video, text, and program-based curriculum in smaller, more digestible formats, businesses may create strategies that allow their employees to learn when and how they want.

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As a result, the question becomes:

How Can We Integrate Lifelong Learning into the Everyday Workflow?

We believe there is a solution, a new paradigm: lifelong learning integrated into the workplace.

Of course, everyone’s work experience is different. Yet, there are a few fundamental similarities within the knowledge workers: Over 780 million of them, spending 6.5 hours each day in front of a computer. Of this time, they spend 28% of their time on email, 19% of their time acquiring information (data searching), and 14% of their time interacting internally (in formal and informal meetings). These three activities account for 61% of the total time spent at work for this large population.

Understandably, knowledge workers devote so much time to receiving and sharing data. Most of us do regularly find data, facts, information, and ideas, then share them with others.

Lifelong learning in the flow of work is a novel concept that understands that learning must fit into and align with working days and lives to be effective. Rather than being a destination, corporate learning is now becoming something that comes to us. We can create solutions and experiences that make learning almost invisible in our employment using smart design thinking and cutting-edge technology.

So, how can we harness the flow of work to motivate students to learn? We’ll look at it from the individual’s (bottom-up) perspective first and then from the corporate’s (top-down) (top-down).

Learning from the Bottom Up

What can you do if you’re a self-motivated learner who wants to learn while you’re at work? Here are some practical steps you can take right now:

Practice mindfulness and metacognition

As you go about your regular tasks, be alert and present. There are numerous advantages to this, including a greater ability to learn and develop. Don’t simply sit in on that procurement expert’s negotiation; observe and understand their strategies and techniques as you converse with them.

Make a list of things you want to learn

Every day, you encounter several learning chances, and if you have a high level of metacognition, you will notice them more. You often have to let them pass since you’re preoccupied with something else. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t take advantage of the situation. Make a list of concepts, ideas, practices, and words you’d like to learn more about, then bookmark them in your browser and add them to your list. When you have a few seconds to reflect, you can go over them again.

As you work, make use of tech-enabled suggestions

Technical insights from Google’s Explore within Google Docs can assist with context-relevant research or formatting or analysis suggestions. Since the early days of the infamous Microsoft Office helper, this form of inline guidance has vastly improved. However, to benefit from such suggestions, you must be open to them. Many more are on the way as systems like Microsoft Teams and Slack become more widely used in the workplace.

We can’t ignore the emergence of technologies like learning experience platforms (LXPs), the most recent and arguably most prevalent trend in education. LXPs are a necessary step forward from today’s typical learning management systems (LMSs).

Whereas LMSs have traditionally focused on business rules, compliance, and catalog management, LXPs are true learning content delivery systems. The functionality of the LXP mirrors popular technologies that people use in their day-to-day lives, for example, streaming video and social media. LXPs can link the Content across any system to provide an on-demand learning experience.

Make studying time a priority in your work routine

Make your coworkers aware of how essential learning is to you. With your manager, decide on a reasonable percentage of your workweek to study (say, an hour). Then put a time limit on it and stick to it.

Subscribing to a few high-quality, hyper-relevant newsletters is a good idea

You should select Newsletters carefully to fit your role, industry, and personality. In the end, there won’t be many that are both good and relevant. Unsubscribe from the rest of the list.

Contribute to a learning channel where work actually happens by being engaged, knowledgeable, and courteous

Work occurs in various locations for different firms, but the most common examples we hear are from workers who use SharePoint, Slack, and Teams. Create a learning channel if your firm doesn’t already have one. Don’t just paste a URL when you share something new and intriguing with colleagues on social networks.

Unpack the what-it’s-about and why-it-matters components of a content piece to help people understand why you’re sharing it. The who-it-is-for is even more important: only tag people who will truly benefit from your contribution. This will not only benefit others and your organization, but it will also benefit you.

Learning from the Top Down

When HR directors are asked how they expect to develop new abilities in the future, nearly two-thirds believe they would go out and recruit for the skills they require. This is costly.

So, how can businesses make greater use of the flow of labor to increase their employees’ skills? Of fact, many of the traits of large corporations are designed to stifle learning, but you may leverage certain traits to accelerate learning. This section is designed for corporate leaders who are willing to modify their company’s systems, procedures, and culture to improve its capability.

Make sure your company’s knowledge management solutions are up to date and simple to use

Your staff is always seeking information, and they will almost certainly turn to Google for assistance. Accept this as reality, but also devote some time to curating and improving the internal systems you already have to make them more efficient and useful.

It just costs your firm money to have an old, messy website with badly organized content, and creating a corporate portal is easier than ever. Search results must be useful — something that is easy to say but difficult to achieve — which necessitates properly tagging and maintaining your content. Start a project with IT to clean it up, and you’ll be astonished at how quickly it comes together.

Internally, share stuff

It’s now possible to employ technology to scale the benefits of organic learning that’s taking place in one part of the company. An essay about negotiating difficult commercial contracts that were exchanged between two account managers on one platform, for example, maybe algorithmically recognized, labeled, and disseminated to a larger sales community.

Use APIs to bring material into the office

Thanks to the API economy, integrating into the flow of work has never been easier. The majority of software is now designed with interoperability in mind, which is frequently accomplished using APIs. Open APIs are available on platforms like Slack, Teams, and Atlassian, to mention a few. This means that using integrative technologies like Zapier, IFTTT, or learning-oriented APIs, and appropriate learning information may be planted into employees’ days.

Make learning a channel in your company’s communications program

Create a specialized online learning environment and promote it with contributions from influential business executives. Encourage people who are already active sharers and influencers to share and promote fresh content. If those contributions come directly from the top of your company, the message that learning is essential will be amplified.

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Find out more and request a custom demo!

Consider a chat or conversational interface

Adding a conversation layer to your primary workflow software is a simple and effective approach to combining work and learning. The less intrusive the chatbot feels, and the more beneficial it is, the more intelligent it is, the more relevant it is to what’s happening in the workflow.

Incorporate learning into your inbox

Email continues to be a big part of the day for knowledge workers, and it’s one of the most powerful ways to communicate with others.  It, while it’s an unglamorous option, using personalized emails sparingly to sprinkle learning into your employees’ working days may be the most efficient and effective method to do so.

More than any other format, email is used by the majority of corporate executives to get news. What makes you think that learning should be any different? Inboxes will get less congested as privacy restrictions tighten, and individual e-mails will become proportionately more valuable.

Lifelong Learning Comes from Joint Accountability and Joint Ownership

To be successful, you must also consider shared ownership. There is a growing consensus that learning and development should be shared between employees and their employers, between HR and the business, and between businesses, educational institutions, and governments.

This shared responsibility does more than generate joint ownership; it also allows for joint accountability for success, which most businesses still lack. Many firms do not link performance incentives to their learning programs, despite making significant investments in learning.

As a result, their learning efforts may lie underused and underappreciated. Organizations that provide incentives to ensure that management encourages learning and that employees find learning opportunities feasible to pursue are more likely to benefit in terms of new skills learned and creating a learning culture.

Ad: PlayAblo’s Enterprise-Grade Micro-Learning platform is built for the corporate learner. Micro-Learning, along with assessments and gamification features, ensures learning outcome measurement along with sustained engagement.
Find out more and request a custom demo!

Rounding it Up

Chief learning officers all around the world have embraced the concept of learning in the flow of work. Because establishing the impact of specific learning programs is challenging, the $360 billion corporate learning industry has traditionally remained in the shadows of other more “glamorous” elements of the business (although the benefits of training in general for individuals and society are beyond doubt). However, as businesses begin to emphasize employee engagement and well-being, this may be changing.

Organizations have the potential and the obligation to reinvent learning such that it integrates into the flow of work—and life—in a world where technology is transforming employment and people are living longer with more diverse careers. Organizations in the age of the social business will recognize that cultivating and maintaining a culture of lifelong learning is part of their goal and purpose and what gives their employees meaning both in and out of the office. Nothing is more intimate than that.

Ad: PlayAblo’s Enterprise-Grade Micro-Learning platform is built for the corporate learner. Micro-Learning, along with assessments and gamification features, ensures learning outcome measurement along with sustained engagement.
Find out more and request a custom demo!

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