A one-size-fits-all training no longer applies for today’s learners, which is why training providers and the companies that partner with them must know how to keep up with their learners’ changing behaviors.
The training industry has been highly influenced by technology. Given the advancements in the field, the training industry was forced to adapt to the changing needs of learners—the same learners who are now tethered to their mobile devices and want untethered access to learning resources. Bersin by Deloitte gave a clear understanding of the persona of today’s learner in the infographic “Meet the Modern Learner: Engaging the Overwhelmed, Distracted, and Impatient Employee.” From the title alone, employers and HR managers can see the main challenge: Getting their learner’s attention and keeping them engaged.
Who is today’s learner?
Today’s learner is highly distracted, whether by constant notifications on their phones, new emails, or alerts from collaborative tools for work. The Bersin by Deloitte infographic tells us that today’s learner is actually interrupted every five minutes—disabling their ability to remain focused on one task. Because alerts, notifications, and other demands often come at the speed of light, today’s learners are now overwhelmed and feel the need for things to go quicker. They’re impatient because they know there’s so much to do, in so little time.
Crystal Kadakia and Lisa M.D. Owens echoed the same sentiments to ATD, describing today’s learners as “Someone who is in an environment where content changes fast and learning needs change even faster. Modern learners want answers right away and rely on a wide variety of sources to find the answer.” But despite having only 24 minutes in a week to focus on learning and development, these modern learners are in fact very hungry for training.
The constant need for training and development
The general consensus is this: employees do want training. They believe it will aid them in performing their roles better and help them grow in their careers. Now, it’s just the matter of how it’s delivered to them to generate the most impactful results. With workforces composed of people from different age groups, skill levels, and learning capacities, it’s difficult to find a solution that fits everyone. Combine this with the employers’ desire to obtain measurable and meaningful training results and ROI, and employers have for themselves a challenge to overcome. According to HR Dive, research has proven that a singular training solution for all learners does not yield optimal results. Often, traditional classroom-based training is used for a large group of learners. While traditional classroom-based training is effective in “delivering” information to learners, it’s not the best model to “educate” these learners. Traditional, classroom-based training must be followed up by activities that ensure learners are able to absorb and apply what they’ve learned.
According to HR Dive, learners are eager for training that will aid them in becoming successful in their respective roles. But it matters how this training is delivered. When asked in an Ipsos poll, learners said that they want training that is “easy to complete/understand” (93%), “personalized and relevant” (91%), and “engaging and fun” (90%). In terms of content and deliver, at least 80% of learners want training that can be done anytime and anywhere or training that can be selected to fit into their schedules. They also believe that frequent or regular training is more important than formal workplace training. What, then, is the solution?
Despite being around for quite a while now, blended learning and its concepts are still being applied in today’s modernized training landscape. Blended learning, which still refers to the combination of online digital media and traditional classroom methods such as face to face training, is relevant today as it was in the 1990s. Why? Because classroom training is now supported by digital learning on mobile phones. This helps in supplementing knowledge and retaining information among learners.
Employers must also keep in mind, the mobile device is also home to social media, which is now an emerging trend in learning. According to ATD, 54% of organizations are now using social media for learning. Aside from social learning, experiential learning was also found to be the most effective, HR Dive reported. The reason behind this is the value that hands-on, on-the-job training gives to learners who are pressed for time and need to learn fast. But regardless of which blended learning aspects employers utilize, it’s also important to conduct a training needs analysis before mixing and matching solutions to build a training program that will yield measurable results. In the long run, determining what learners need is always the first step to creating a successful training program.