Learning new skills on the job can be challenging as deadlines, meetings and other commitments vie for employees’ time and attention. Learning and development (L&D) professionals have their work cut out when it comes to upskilling and/or reskilling workers in such time-constrained environments – the urgency of work all too often supersedes opportunities to learn.
But what if there was a way to embed learning opportunities in the natural course of a workday, reducing disruption and distraction? This is called “learning in the flow of work”, a concept coined by industry analyst Josh Bersin, who posits that learning should be seen as part of an employee’s everyday focus.
The idea of learning in the flow of work is defined as an employee having easy access to an answer to a question – or a chunk of learning material – while working. This enables employees to find the value of a tool or process without interrupting their productivity. Learning in the flow of work enables employees to immediately apply new knowledge and skills to their work, allowing them to quickly solve problems and boost productivity. For example, when an employee encounters issues as they use a new tool to perform a work task, they can watch a video tutorial or access a job aid with frequently asked questions to immediately troubleshoot the issue. Learning becomes embedded into the employee’s workflow and enhances the performance of the individual.
At its simplest level, learning in the flow of work can be as basic as taking a few minutes to watch a tutorial on YouTube or Google the answer to a question, but ideally learning in the flow of work is all about transforming learning into something that’s relevant, curated, embedded, and useful in an individual’s everyday job.
For a company to fully embrace learning in the flow of work, this could mean using a fully integrated learning management system (LMS) that takes into consideration the needs of employees and stores all the relevant information in one easily accessible location. Other learning aids could include a QR code that an employee scans at the time of need, creating a direct link between learning and work; a chatbot that helps employees grasp difficult concepts on the fly; or personalised emails that share learning across all the employees of an organisation.
Enabling an environment of ongoing and embedded learning in the workplace brings many benefits. For starters, learning while growing in the workplace creates a greater sense of engagement and commitment among employees. Research by Josh Bersin shows that employees who spend time learning in the flow of work are 47% less likely to be stressed and 39% more likely to feel productive and successful than their peers who do not receive on-the-job learning.
Organisations can empower employees to succeed by allowing them to direct their own learning journey. By enabling employees with access to the tools and information they need, organisations can enhance productivity across the business. Learning in the flow of work can help employees foster meaningful connections with colleagues and drive deeper engagement in their work to help them achieve their full potential.
Workshops and seminars are no longer ideal in delivering learning outcomes as they are time-consuming and often lack immediate context – those who learn in the flow of work will always be one step ahead as they have access to information at the exact time of need. This also reduces the cost of training within an organisation.
When learning on the job is delivered in bite-sized pieces at the time of need, the forgetting curve can be bypassed – that is the tendency of learners to forget information over time. This is why micro-learning and learning in the flow of work are a perfect match, with the former enabling the latter. When the information is relevant in context and able to be reinforced through repetition, it is more likely to be retained by the learner.
Learning in the flow of work enables employees to be more proactive, and encourages them to take ownership of their performance, keeps motivation high, and helps them reach their job-related goals. This process of learning is natural and non-invasive – leading to an increase in employee productivity and engagement while leading to a decrease in employee turnover (an employee who feels engaged is 87% less likely to leave their company). And employees show a clear preference for this type of learning according to a LinkedIn study, which noted that 58% of respondents wish to learn at their own pace, while 49% would like to “learn in the flow of work”.
For learning in the flow of work to be truly effective, the relevant learning content needs to be accessible (readily available at the moment of need), on demand (available at all times on any device), and carefully curated (from a reliable and verified source).
Get in touch with us today to find out more about how we can help you curated powerful microlearning assets that your workforce can access in the flow!