In the 21st century, we have seen a great shift in the challenges modern organizations face. Instead of the previous issue of talent acquisition and management, one of the burning questions today is employee retention.
With high-quality Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) and perks, the goal of modern organizations is to make employees engaged, independent, empowered and valued.
This is especially prominent with millennials being a large part of the global workforce. It’s a generation that’s notorious for career-hopping and swift job changes. By 2020, half of the American workforce will be comprised of millennials. In many countries, like India and Indonesia, the millennial cohort has already surpassed the other generational groups within the workforce.
Companies are quickly adapting to this change and the insight that millennial employees prioritize learning as one of the key EVPs they look for in a company. According to Research and Markets, online training is currently provided by 77% of US companies.
To stay ahead of the curve and come up with the best innovative ideas for L&D in your company, here are some of the best examples of key characteristics of modern L&D departments:
Support Peer-to-Peer Learning
A great way to set up effective learning and development strategies in the office is to promote peer-to-peer learning. Well, this method is not new. But it still works perfectly for both big and small organizations. Today, this method is practiced all over Silicon Valley with some of the top companies like Google and Amazon.
At Google, the peer-to-peer learning and training program is called G2G (Googler-to-Googler). This training structure currently hosts 80% of all tracked training sessions at this company. This means that peer-to-peer learning is Google’s number one resource for learning and development.
Google’s approach is great for promoting a company culture that places a high value on learning. This is done by making the employees aware that they have a right and need to learn. G2G is also a great program because it allows Googlers to give back to their colleagues and share their knowledge with people who they work with.
Facebook also has a peer-to-peer learning program called FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice), in which leaders and managers receive coaching and feedback from their peers. It consists of team-building exercises, peer-to-peer feedback sharing sessions and executive coaching.
2. Personalize the Learning Experience for Individual Employees
Modern HR practices are all about approaching the employee as an individual and personalizing the company’s approach according to employee needs, traits and preferences. This is also valuable in the L&D program.
One company that stands out with personalized learning and training sessions is Facebook. According to the company, the organization culture “fosters a culture of continuous learning”.
The L&D program at Facebook is designed to approach each employee personally and provide an individual learning course. Every new engineer who joins the company goes through an intensive six-week program called Bootcamp. The program helps to immerse the new engineer into the Facebook codebase and gives the new employee greater flexibility in choosing a project.
A small number of rotating senior engineers work as mentors and coach new engineers. The mentors are responsible for reviewing bootcampers’ codes and answering each and every question that new engineers might feel ashamed to ask. Senior engineers from across the engineering teams also help new employees to learn. They give a bunch of tech talks on a broad range of the technologies that Facebook uses. And most importantly, the vast majority of bootcamp graduates agree that diving into the code with personalized support is the best way to learn.
A highly personal approach is also reflected in Facebook’s Engage Coaching Program. This is a program designed for new managers, who are connected to an executive coach as soon as they go through onboarding. With an emphasis on management skills and organizational strategies, the executive coach helps new managers to shine at their new roles. This program involves using case studies, coaching circle exercises with executive team members, and team-building activities.
However, it’s worth mentioning that personalization is not about coaching and mentoring only. It’s also about the usage of simulations and other immersive games. Simulation-based learning helps to create a more active, productive environment in which it’s easier for employees to gain first-hand knowledge of tools, programs, and devices. Simulation allows learners to test actual sample scenarios and situations and to learn from their personal mistakes.
3. Learning through Fun Competition
No matter how old employees are and what position they hold, they like to compete. It’s just human nature. People tend to participate in competition not to get a specific reward but to satisfy the self-esteem need – to show that they are better and smarter than others.
And that explains why gamification works effectively in the workplace. By using game-based elements like leaderboards, points, and badges, companies invoke the feeling of competition and engage employees in learning and development, without necessarily enticing learners with real-world, tangible motivations. In other words, Gamification promotes learning for the sake of learning, but in a fun and engaging manner (Tangible rewards are just a bonus!).
Box, a cloud content management company, held a little L&D competition when they first started cooperating with Udemy. The name of the promotion was “25 x 25 x 25“, meaning that the first 25 persons to watch 25 minutes of Udemy courses would win $25 gift cards.
Another example of a fun competition using Udemy courses is from the company Canadian Pacific. This railway company regularly uses Udemy courses to expand the skill set of their IT teams. To increase their motivation and add a bit of fun into the mix, the company organized a contest in teams where pairs competed in answering questions from learning courses on Udemy, with prizes for the winning team.
You can introduce this to your employees as well because some people thrive in a competitive environment. Every time you turn something into a game, it’s much more pleasurable!
4. Introduce Interactive Learning
New technologies give us unlimited possibilities for devising interesting and effective learning and development courses. That’s why many companies opt for interactive learning platforms to add a dimension of educational entertainment (or shortly “edutainment”) to their training efforts.
The key benefit of the edutainment (“learning while you have fun”) concept is that having fun releases dopamine in the brain, which makes a person more receptive to the experience. Making education fun allows learners to immerse themselves in the learning process and have a more retentive, positive impact from their learning.
A great example of edutainment is Slack’s Certification training, developed by the company’s Director of Learning, Kristen Swanson. The training program is inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books, where users choose which actions to take and witness the consequences of their choices.
“The Slack certification app gives people the opportunity to make bad choices and see what happens or to make good choices and see what happens”, Swanson said.
The training starts with the user selecting a character, along with the description of his job duties and role. Upon starting, the user starts interacting with the chatbot to perform a particular task.
5. Switch to Micro-learning
Huge courses and seminars can be daunting for young employees for a few reasons. Firstly, such digital-age issues as shortening attention spans and distractions from smart devices negatively affect the way modern employees learn and work. Secondly, the recency effect (retaining the most recent piece of information the learner receives) and the primacy effect (retaining the first piece of information the learner receives) also influence the learning process.
That’s why, according to psychologists and HR experts, you should offer L&D materials in tiny bits, and not in huge chunks of material. According to research, learning is most effective in small, highly focused sessions lasting from 15 to 30 minutes.
There are many apps and online tools that have answered this demand for micro-learning, such as Grovo, TAG or Blinkist. We definitely shouldn’t underestimate the power of quick learning sessions, because they can easily build up to be even more effective than a huge quantity of information overloaded at once.
6. Set up Learning Time Blocks Wisely
The concept of “setting up learning time blocks” was rather popular a few years ago. But today, Josh Bersin and other experts in the field say that this concept doesn’t work. They state that professionals are not able to set aside time specifically for learning and that they always prioritize their work over the learning process. Josh Bersin is advocating the idea of “Learning in the Flow of Work” as a primary learning solution for modern companies.
But the truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It always depends on the company and the methodology it uses to train its employees. For example, US visual media organization Getty Images regularly holds “WeLearn Wednesday”. Each Wednesday, the company’s L&D representative shares a course recommendation through Slack, and that brings results.
Another tactic that Getty Images used to motivate their employees to take a course was to post a photo of the company’s Chief HR Manager learning at his desk. The photo resulted in a significant increase in the number of employee course enrollments.
If the “learning days” training structure seems to be inappropriate for your company, you should consider using the “learning months” structure. If the learning process in your company is predominantly experiential and immersive, you will see a significant increase in the consumption of self-directed learning.
Using examples of best practices from top tier companies can teach you how to up your L&D game to the next level.
By introducing new concepts and structures into the way your HR team handles learning and development, you can increase employee satisfaction and boost your employer branding. Make sure you keep up with all the recent developments in the industry because things are changing fast and there are new platforms and learning methodologies cropping up every day.