Enterprise Learning has always been in a state of constant flux. Various elements including technology and changes in the global market, often influence the way L&D is equipped to face the competition, the way tools and systems are selected, and the way the finance is allocated.
“Developments in technology, success metrics and global competition together with changes in workplace demographics and culture all play key roles not just in how corporate learning looks today, but how it will appear in the future”. This opening sentence of ‘The CGS 2017 Enterprise Learning Annual Report Corporate Learning Trends, Observations & Predictions’, sums it up quite accurately.
Most organizations set a yearly target for self-improvement and select focus areas within the enterprise's learning structure. The CGS survey puts together the responses from 186 senior professionals, who are key stakeholders in the implementation of corporate learning initiatives. When asked as to where L&D departments plan to focus their resources based on business priorities in 2017, the surveyed individuals emphasize on Soft Skills, and Change Management. A surprisingly new aspect is the stress on fully engaging/ supporting new and existing employees in order to better maintain and strengthen the business culture.
Considering that the presence of L&D often indicates the presence of an LMS, the focus areas can be easily influenced by the presence of an efficient system. Here are our observations on how an LMS and its features can benefit the top focus areas for 2017 Enterprise Learning.
Developing employees’ soft skills is often considered a top priority for most enterprises. And rightly so. As stated in the report, “this is mostly because instilling the soft skills through leadership, coaching and on-boarding makes for a more cohesive, collaborative and productive workforce.”
So, how is soft skill training delivered? Most organizations leverage the functionalities of media and collaborative platforms to achieve this. Some use online chats, IMs and internal platforms, where employees can find new information and also share knowledge with their peers.
The LMS Perspective here is to leverage features such as Social Learning and Knowledge Collaboration. These 'social' features can not just help in filling most of the soft skill gaps but also serve many strategic business functions such as community development, on-demand support, volunteer learners, content curation, knowledge sharing, and strong collaboration for self-paced learning too.
According to the CGS report, “For the 85% of respondents planning to maintain /increase use of social media, decision makers feel that the benefit of tapping into collaborative learning environments will allow subject matter experts in the workplace community to share their expertise directly with their peers.”
Engaging, Retaining, Motivating Employees
In the words of Jack Welch, “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow.”
Keeping the learners engaged has been a priority for almost every L&D department and every Enterprise Learning strategy. Hence, it comes as no surprise if L&D professionals plan to commit its team resources for maximizing employee engagement, motivation, and retention. In terms of ROI too, employee engagement and retention act as the primary metrics to measure the effectiveness of learning program.
According to the report, “What most learners look for in a learning program are features such as speed, efficiency, relevance and usability, similar to what they enjoy in their favorite online resources and apps.”
From an LMS stand point, there is much to be offered towards this aspect. The User Experience (UX) that a well-structured LMS brings in can be convenient and accommodative to not just appease all the users, but also encourage LMS usage and drive learner engagement. Add to this a Responsive LMS or one for Mobile Learning that creates an opportunity for learning anywhere, anytime on any device of one's choice. LMS Gamification or a Gamified LMS too is often considered as an effective way to make an enterprise learning environment more learner-centric. Blended Learning feature of an LMS is often used to mix the methods of learning delivery to make the training program more interesting and effective.
Motivating employees is often done by giving learners what they need, when they need. When it comes to enterprise learning, an LMS can also act as the knowledge repository to store and distribute learning and performance support content efficiently just-in-time of need.
The CGS survey found that company leadership and L&D professionals still put a lot of thought into Change Management.
Enterprise learning endeavors, in most cases, target adaptability to change and future-proofing. Be it change in the business due to market fluctuations or due to competition or in response to huge technological changes, having a robust learning culture often allows the organization to be prepared for such situations.
According to the report, “Millennial workers are particularly well-adapted to changing market environments, because learning and development is one of that generation of employees’ most prized benefits. A recent survey from the Future of Corporate Learning Report, from The Bersin by Deloitte, showed that more millennials desired learning benefits than either flexible work schedules or cash bonuses.”
Where does an LMS fit in here?
When it comes to learning that needs to be constant and up-to-date, the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) module in an LMS is often considered as the best way to accelerate professional career. Compliance Training too can be handled effectively using an LMS.
Not just that, managing competencies and certifications, keeping a record of competency changes, certifications, and course performance for every employee and team, and creating an organization-based competency framework can all be done using the Competency Management tool of an LMS.
Organizations that participated in the 2017 CGS survey either have complete in-house L&D programs or outsource it and some have a perfected balance between both. The survey points out once again that even if the requirements may overlap at times, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that can work well for every enterprise learning requirement. The trick often is to leverage the features of an LMS or any other learning tool for that matter, to fit the needs to its best.