08 Oct 2013
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Corporate Learning is Broken – Let’s Get it Fixed
Whether it’s the next generation smartphone or the latest hybrid vehicle, corporations around the world are continually reinventing their products and services to stay on the cutting edge. Yet in a lot of cases their training departments are still more or less stuck doing what they did in the 60’s – tie-dyed shirts, marbled jeans and all.
But before we poke fun at their questionable fashion sense and their outdated approach, let’s get to the heart of it: training departments have simply fallen victim to the same phenomenon than troubled companies like Nortel, Blockbuster, Polaroid and BlackBerry have experienced – complacency.
When you think “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or even worse “We’re the best and that’s always going to be the case” it’s really easy to ignore or dismiss trends and disruptive innovations in the market as new products and technologies emerge. Then suddenly, what worked twenty years ago is so completely outdated that the organization needs to take strides to change and stay relevant. Those who manage corporate learning are now discovering the hard way that old rules don’t work well in today’s social, interactive and on-demand world and they’re rapidly trying to make up for it.
But How Much Does it Cost?
North American corporations spend about $150B delivering training each year. That amounts to an average of $1,067 per employee (2.7% of payroll) for 32 hours of formal training annually according to The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). Instructors lead 70% of this training in a classroom and the remaining 30% is delivered via technology, otherwise known as eLearning.
But walk into any training conference today, and you’ll be hard pressed to hear a whole lot about instructor led training. Instead, what’s hot? It’s all about performance support through informal, social, gamified and mobile learning, among other things. Why is that 30% of the training dollar suddenly getting all the attention?
No More Need for Traditional Training
It’s simple: corporate learning is broken. Traditional approaches to training and development ignore key factors including how our brains actually work to retain information, how fragmented our attention spans have become and just how demanding younger demographics are for personalized, interactive and social training experiences.
Instead, organizations continue to invest billions in something that no longer works for today’s learner. One time, event-based learning with no reinforcement, boring modules with cheesy clip art and one-size fits all type of training is stunting the growth of organizations worldwide.
Perhaps even more frustrating is that this type of training is hardly measurable when it comes to business results. Sure, we can find out whether the employee liked the training with post-training smile sheets but we never truly know if this training will actually be remembered and most importantly, applied.
The above issues create a training experience that results in very little learning transfer, which means that employees don’t operationalize the learning in their day-to-day activities, and most of the learning investment is wasted.
Today more than ever before, Human Resource and Training and Development professionals are beginning to understand that they have a real opportunity to be strategic enablers in their organizations. Employees are more mobile than ever, and keeping an employee engaged and motivated to stay long-term involves more than providing just a paycheque.
Meeting Employee Expectations
Employees now expect to be offered real performance support and opportunities to grow and be recognized for their contributions. By delivering a cutting edge learning experience, the corporate learning organization can support overall strategic initiatives for the enterprise, get significantly more out of the learning dollar, and drive bottom line results that are measurable.
Learning no longer has to be broken, with a chasm between the learning event and what truly happens on the job. Technology has allowed learning professionals to deliver an experience that is fast, fun, on-demand, personalized to the learner, digestible in bite-sized chunks, measurable and taking into account how the brain actually works to remember.
Sure, no one wants to be the next Nortel or BlackBerry, so the real question is: are your people growing fast enough to keep up with the needs of your business and is training being retained by your employees?
(ASTD) ASTD 2011 State of the Industry Report: ASTD’s Annual Review of Workplace Learning and Development Data, http://astd.org
(Kelly) The New Knowledge Worker: Enabling the Next Generation
(Pink) Drive, http://www.danpink.com/drive
Meet Carol Leaman
Join me and Impact99 on October 10th as we discuss these and other pressing topics as we answer the question of just how broken is corporate learning and more importantly what we can do to fix it.
Carol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify, an award winning serial entrepreneur and an avid baker.