Essentially, corporate training and corporate learning are the same thing, just two ends of the same thread. And, they should be. A long time ago, they were. But that no longer is the case because while the way modern employees learn has completely changed, corporate training has stagnated over the years, unwilling to sync with learner expectations.
Consider this. Corporate training is a mammoth $130bn market (possibly larger than that) and, yet, there is negative satisfaction among learners across organizations.
Around 89% executives believe new hires don’t have the necessary skills for their job. And, despite the demand for end user training, there is negative satisfaction because current corporate training methods aren’t helping employees skill up for their individual job roles.
That’s because the corporate training paradigms that most organizations seem to be using is akin to using a pager in the age of the smartphone. They’re just outdated.
So, what do employees do? They find alternative means of learning. It means that are more aligned to their needs, even though these knowledge sources may not completely satisfy their requirements.
As L&D expert Josh Bersin points out, corporate training in most organizations is still built around a legacy Learning Management System (LMS) at a time when employees are using public information on the internet to feed their on-demand learning needs. Bersin’s observation is consistent with what we, at Whatfix, hear from enterprises yearning to redefine their corporate employee training regimes.
But, why is this the case? Why is there a misalignment between corporate training and corporate learning? Why are the two drifting apart?
Let’s find some answers.
We’ve been talking a lot about how the modern workplace is rapidly getting consumerized. Consumers use products that automate their regular chores saving them time and hassle. Not just that, consumers are increasingly demanding unified product experiences.
And so are employees at the workplace from the software applications they use.
Consider Slack. It’s just a workplace communications app but Slack is worth upwards of $5bn. In 2016, almost 77% of all Fortune 500 companies were using Slack inside their organizations. The official Slack pitch is that is makes workplace communication easy while integrating all the tools in use like Google Drive, for instance.
To be honest, the actual selling points are that it does integrate, centralize and unify all the tools in use and also the fact that it’s really cool.
The modern workplace is rapidly moving away from a formal environment to an informal ecosystem that is cool to work in and that’s what employees demand today. An experience and a culture that is unified, flexible and cool at the same time.
Unfortunately, while a majority of companies now seem to be bowing to this demand moving towards a culture and environment that is cool, the same can’t be said about corporate training.
Largely, it’s still very similar to this 90 years old training video on how to use the telephone from AT&T.
At this point in time, corporate training is highly inflexible and disengaging. But this can’t last long. Enterprises need to transform internally if they are to remain attractive for employees to work in, develop and become more productive than the previous day.
Have you heard of the Canadian telecom giant TELUS? The 40 thousand employees strong TELUS was afflicted by the same problem. Its corporate training methods were entirely hinged on formal classroom based training techniques. In such a formal environment, TELUS found that it’s employee engagement was just 53%.
So, they changed practices. TELUS reinvented its corporate training procedures slowly but steadily transforming learning from just a formal process to “a combination of formal, informal and social process.”
The company introduced new technologies which actually aligned with employee expectations and behaviors. Fast forward to 2013 and the employee engagement rate stood at 83%. Per capita return on performance increased to 75%.
The TELUS story is a lesson in corporate training for all enterprises. Companies need to stop treating corporate training as just an event in the employee lifecycle and start integrating it into employee workflows.
How do you do that?
The disjointedness of the corporate training needs to go. The current corporate training environment tends to pull employees away from their workplace and workflows and put them in a completely disjointed classroom environment.
If not just classrooms, even the LMS based corporate training methods tend to pull employees away from the environment of knowledge application. As a result, the entire learning process is something like an automobile engine giving rise to a transmission loss in knowledge and performance.
Because the learning environment and application environment is disparate and disintegrated, employees can retain and apply all the knowledge they acquire in the learning environment. And so, performance in the application environment drops.
Enterprises seem to be consider this as the normal course and something that can’t be bettered.
But it can be. By integrating the learning and application environments. By training employees within their environment of application.
And that’s the solution we, at Whatfix, are helping so many Fortune 500 companies with. With Whatfix, enterprises can provide learning right at the time when employees need and within their software applications resulting in true integration of the two separate environments.
Companies need to unify the learning and application environments so that corporate training is not a standalone, isolated event but something that is always happening, something that is continuous, something that ensures there is no transmission loss in knowledge.
As Deloitte analysts put it, “Employees want a single place to access content, share experiences, and find formal programs. Simple, integrated, learning platforms drive adoption.”
Employees are increasingly shifting loyalties from the organizations they work for to their own career graphs.
Learners don’t care about how corporate training is delivered or how they should consume knowledge or the processes. All they care about is their own individual performance and development of expertise. Because, that’s what will help them in their career.
Enterprises need to leverage this to their advantage by ensuring that the right knowledge is available to their employees at the time they need and at the point of need.
Integration of the corporate training and application environments not only ensures 100% knowledge retention and accurate application but also improves performance and companies are able to increase return on performance. Just like TELUS did.
For the longest time, corporate training has focused on just activities. Measurement of the success of corporate training tools was simplistically derived from how many employees participated in these activities.
But, in times, when the world is more data driven than ever and everything is quantified in clear measurable metrics, it doesn’t make sense to measure learning in terms of just a counter of how many employees completed it.
Measurement needs to be much more than, it needs to focus on performance and whether corporate training programs are driving business results.
In employee workflows dominated by software applications, success needs to be measured by how well employees are able to adopt applications, how quickly they are able complete tasks and how much their return on performance has increased over a period of time.
As Jenny Dearborn, VP of HR at SAP says, “If you can’t prove that the workplace learning you’re offering has a positive and measurable effect on your business, then why bother providing the training?”
Like product decisions in B2C companies are almost completely influenced by consumer needs and expectations, it is imperative for organizations to make decisions which are aligned to employee behaviors and expectations. By doing this, orgs need to play to their employees strengths.
And they need to begin with corporate training. This is one bridge that has to be rebuilt ASAP.