Among an organisation’s most valuable assets are its employees. Managing, nurturing and keeping the staff engaged and motivated is key to an organisation’s ability to deliver high-quality results. Employee development, then, becomes de rigueur for any organisation and it is important to consistently develop the talent among employees so that they perform their jobs productively. The onus of creating an efficacious strategy to impart training and engage employees to develop their full potential falls on the L&D team of an organisation that often relies on a Learning Management System (LMS) to manage its learning/training programmes.
LinkedIn recently released a report on workplace learning restating the importance of L&D in bringing about employee productivity and business growth, and uncovering the top trends in 2017 that L&D professionals are tackling in the workplace. Considering that training programmes and LMSs go hand in hand in most companies, here’s taking a look at the top trends mentioned in the report from the point of view of a Learning Management System.
1. #Trend: Organisations are Investing More in Talent Development
According to the report, 69% of L&D professionals mention ‘talent’ as the top priority in their organisations, and over ¼ expect a budget increase in 2017 for L&D.
While talking about L&D and developing talent, an oft-used term in the industry is CPD or Continuing Professional Development. CPD revolves around the maintenance, update and nurturing of employees’ knowledge and skills required for their professional role. This is where a good LMS plays an extremely important role – to keep employees competent and productive, and help organisations to maintain/ achieve their business growth.
Like CPD, another important term in the learning ecosystem is Competency Management. It’s the pulse of performance improvement that allows an organisation to certify that employees possess required skills or competencies, and qualify for their job roles. An LMS with Competency Management gives its users clear, specific, easy-to-follow paths to advancement. Using a multi-dimensional and comprehensive approach, it includes features such as skills-gap analysis, succession planning, as well as competency analysis and profiling.
An effective LMS also contributes largely in another important area of talent development – Compliance Training. In today’s complex regulatory landscape, compliance is a decisive norm and compliance training is essential because adherence to laws and regulations concerning a particular business is vital. An LMS is one of the most significant conduits in compliance training owing to its ability to ensure that the employees are compliant at all times.
2. #Trend: L&D is a Highly Varied Function, from Structure to Top Objectives
The LinkedIn report says, ⅔ of L&D professionals say L&D is centralised within their organisation – residing with HR or Business Operations, while ⅓ say it is decentralized across different departments – HR, Business Operations, IT, Customer Service, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, and Finance.
An LMS with multi-portal/ multi-tenancy allows centralisation and decentralisation of the training across departments/ divisions/ geographies, depending on the structure of the organisation. Using the multi-portal architecture of an LMS, organisations can host multiple portals on the same setup, each with distinct branding and access. While the training on each portal can be administered and managed independently by the respective portal admin (decentralised approach), the control, rights, and privileges for each portal can be managed from the parent/ master portal for monitoring and uniformity (centralised approach).
As the structure of an L&D module varies across organisations, so do its objectives. The report points out that in smaller organisations, there is more focus on training technical skills, while in larger ones, career development (can be met by LMS features like CPD and Competency Management) and soft skills are emphasised. More than half of L&D professionals say their main objective is developing managers and leaders which means skills like coaching and leadership communication are top priority for them, which can be sufficed to a large extent using off-the-shelf (OTS) courses. Other than these, organisations also use LMSs to help employees develop technical skills, train employees globally in a cohesive manner and support the career goals of employees.
3. #Trend: Developing Employees is Important to Executives, but Demonstrating Business Value Proves Challenging
The success of an LMS depends to a great extent on what ROI it is yielding to the company. A well-developed LMS programme can prove to be a game changer for the company’s training programme, and ultimately its bottom-line. Determining ROI is possible with any LMS programme which has the ability to effectively track and generate reports on various aspects of the training programme. With built-in MIS and Reporting, the LMS metrics can give a clear picture on whether the employee training is successful or not, thus demonstrating the business value to the top management.
4. #Trend: Proving Value to Learners is Equally Important, and Proves to be Equally Challenging
According to the report, half of L&D professionals find it tough to get employees to make time for L&D. While there is a demand for modern formats of learning, the number one method continues to be Classroom Training or ILT. This trend greatly mirrors the importance of how the LMS of today needs to facilitate and enhance the act of learning, and not just spoon-feed.
For learners, a Responsive LMS brings about a seamless learning experience, providing flexibility to switch from one device to another and learn anywhere, anytime as per one’s convenience. It also caters to the evolving user-behaviour of today’s multi-device workforce that goes through a minimum of 2 devices to complete a task.
Along with being responsive, an LMS that offers Mobile Learning is also beneficial to enhance the learning experience. These days, mobile device usage exceeds desktop usage. Providing mobile access to the course means that trainees have maximum flexibility over where, when, and how to undertake training.
Another way of improving learning is by leveraging the Blended Learning feature in an LMS that combines traditional, classroom-based training with new-age online learning methods like Virtual Classroom and eLearning.
Like mobile and blended learning, social learning is a useful approach to engage learners. Social Learning has more to do with informal learning than the formal, conventional learning approach. An LMS with Social Learning and Knowledge Collaboration tools like Discussion Forums, Communities, Twitter etc. not just open new channels for peers, seniors and juniors to communicate but also help in creating a collaborative learning environment.
5. #Trend: L&D Professionals See Room for Improvement in their Own Programs
The report says that less than ¼ L&D professionals are willing to recommend their programme to peers.
As learning management solutions continue to ride high on the popularity charts, they also evolve continuously. Given the array of factors involved in learning courses, many of which are constantly being adapted and developed, companies need to adopt updated LMSs. Upgrading the LMS to accommodate new trends and modules is a must for a company to keep its training programmes relevant. Also, introducing innovations in the LMS to make the learning creative and interesting is another important requisite. In the last decade, the rise of the SaaS business model, cloud technology and extended enterprise learning has opened the door to newer learning platforms. SaaS is a fast-growing force in enterprise software that has features like faster deployment, easy maintenance, scalability etc.
The report summarises the trends by pointing out that the only way to support growth and improvement is to make learning easily accessible, which is critical. An effective LMS helps in doing exactly that – taking the learning experience across employee sections and helping them stay relevant in today’s highly competitive corporate culture.
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