Last year, we looked at the Future State of L&D and how an LMS could help, in light of LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report. With LinkedIn’s latest report for 2018 now out, it’s only right that we look through the same lens at the Learning & Development function and map it to a Learning Management System.
According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, “Today’s talent developer is being asked to balance competing demands from executives, managers, and employees alike: They must play a critical role in shaping future workforce strategy, while delivering hyper-relevant content to support employee needs of today, and cater these vast efforts to a multi-generational workforce with varied learning preferences.”
What does this mean in the context of the L&D?
It means that the onus of satisfying the learning needs of different employees from different strata of the company is all upon L&D and the way they decide the learning strategy, in turn, influences the future of the company. In this article, I shall try to map the trends pointed in the LinkedIn Report in the context of a Learning Management System (LMS) – the one tool that can play a pivotal role in determining the success of a company’s learning and development initiatives.
Here we go:
1. # Trend: Increased focus on Identifying Industry Trends to Avoid Internal Skill Gaps
The report mentions that employees are looking at talent managers to specifically identify industry trends to prevent internal skill gaps. A good LMS with its comprehensive feature-set can help in exactly doing this.
An LMS does a great job at Competency Management which is the pulse of performance improvement—at the individual as well as the organizational level. LMSs with features to manage Competency Management ensure that the learners are always skilled and stay updated. On similar lines, the idea of CPD or Continuous Professional Development (or also referred to as CPE or CEU or CME or CLE) too fits in this perspective.
A modern LMS is also capable of easily integrating with and supporting Online Course Marketplaces/ libraries considering that such options are growing exponentially. This opens the door to a wide learning/training repository, sometimes beyond what is available in-house/ proprietary.
Some LMSs are also able to aptly support Off-the-shelf or OTS eLearning, which are essentially repositories or libraries of learning material that are pre-created and available online for ready usage. These courses (or videos) cover an array of topics from skills training, technical knowledge to desktop application training and are available as stand-alone solutions that can be purchased by individuals or corporate. They are sometimes a more cost-effective solution that customized content.
2. # Trend: Pronounced dependence on Online Learning Solutions
The report says that talent developers are depending more on online learning solutions to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse, multi-generational workforce.
Depending on the nature of your organization, an LMS may deliver most value by integrating with existing applications, platforms or systems. Working with systems that users are already familiar with can increase the rate and ease of user adoption.
According to the report, while 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, 58% prefer to learn at their own pace and 49% prefer to learn at the point of need. In the context of an LMS, this is where the Mobile Learning aspect fits in best. Mobile Learning allows employees to learn anytime, anywhere, on-the-go and as per their convenience without being tethered to desktop/laptop. Mobile Learning is all about a well-thought-out approach, pedagogy, and a proper delivery system too, which is why mobile LMSs are gaining traction. An important feature of a Mobile LMS is that it provides ‘just-in-time’ support to the learners, which means it’s available to them at the time of their need rather than having them wait for the next training session. No wonder then that Performance Support and mLearning are a great duo!
3. # Trend: Learner Engagement through Platforms where Employees are Already Spending their Time
The report points out that one of the major reasons why employees say they are not engaging in workplace learning is because they don’t have the time. But, at the same time, 94% employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invests in their career. It is therefore up to the L&D to decide how they can engage employees into training and development initiatives that do not hamper their work schedules and are not imposed upon them. Here are some thoughts on bringing about Learner Engagement in a World of Distractions.
On this front, L&D can create platforms that enable Social Learning and Knowledge Collaboration for the exchange of ideas above and beyond “formal” learning. Social Learning creates the much needed informal learning setting where learners can network, share, collaborate, and exchange ideas and knowledge, and solve problems by going beyond the boundaries of designations, roles, and structured training programs. An LMS thus provides unique ways for people to learn from one another via Social Media and Knowledge Collaboration tools.
The concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI) also works in this context since AI systems are able to identify each learner’s needs and come up with models which focus on method and reason. Learners are free to explore topics in depth, and their knowledge is tested in complex scenarios rather than simple right-or-wrong answers. Adaptive Learning, which is a sub-set of AI-based learning, focuses on the customization of the design and delivery of learning based on each learner’s individual learning needs and performance in real-time. Introducing these in a learning strategy are a great way to enhance learner engagement by customizing learning to suit the needs of a learner.
4. # Trend: Amplification of Manager-Learner Relationships
The report says that Managers are an essential part of the employee experience and getting their support in employee learning is likely to make an impact. 56% employees say they would take up a course suggested by their manager. Naturally then, it is all about building a comfortable relationship between these two sections of the company and ensuring that the employees are on secure grounds with their manager.
By guiding employees to a more successful career and providing them with opportunities to progress beyond the current responsibilities of their role, a manager will gain great respect. A manager can use an LMS to tailor each individual’s training to their own interests. An LMS can be used in combination with face-to-face reviews to aid talent retention. The staff are more likely to feel valued when the manager asks them what they want, what he/she can do for them, and how both can benefit from this investment.
Line managers also have a very important role to play when L&D is looking at how best to support a culture of learning and meet the needs of self-directed learners. Line managers form an army of support that is ready, willing and able to guide their teams in meeting complex challenges. If the L&D domain is to fully utilize the network of line managers in their organization, the need to provide simple actionable information is key to unlocking that potential.
In essence, an LMS is one of the best investments a company can make to enhance the future of its workforce. An LMS can be the engine that drives their development and in doing so, moves an organization’s business forward. So, here’s to investing in the right LMS, at the right time!