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From A to B: Increasing the application of learning in the workplace


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DateJuly 26, 2016 Posted by: Levi Phillips   Keywords: 70:20:10, blended learning, gathering feedback, learner engagement, learner support, #MakeItHappen

Everyone wants to do their job faster and better. Here's how the L&D team can help make that a reality in the workplace.

Employers want their L&D teams to help staff do their jobs better and faster. L&D wants to help employees do their jobs better and faster. When we analysed why employees learn online in our 2015 Learning Landscape study, the resounding response (76%) was wanting to do their job better and faster.

So far, the figures from this year's Towards Maturity Benchmark show that 95% of L&D leaders want to speed up the application of learning in the workplace - a very slight fall (1%) from last year's results. Is the aspiration becoming a reality?

Models can help increase learning application

Research published in our In-Focus report, 70+20+10=100: The Evidence Behind the Numbers, found that nine out of 10 of L&D leaders are looking to increase on-the-job productivity, respond faster to business change, improve staff engagement, reduce time to competency and improve the application of formal learning in the workplace. These are all goals related to speeding up the application of learning in the workplace.

However, fewer than one in four were achieving those goals. Also, worryingly, our latest In-Focus report, Making an Impact: How L&D Leaders Can Demonstrate Value, shows that only 24% of L&D leaders know how long it takes for learners to become competent in their job roles. We needs to know this kind of information in order to prove any kind of impact in this area.

We did find that the organisations implementing new models of learning, such as the 70:20:10 approach, were reporting an increased application of learning in the workplace:

  • Over a third (34%) said learners put what they learn into practice quickly (compared to 20% of those not applying new models of learning)
  • 62% said employees can access learning directly relevant to their job (vs. 32%)
  • 28% have noticed positive changes in employee behaviour (vs. 12%)

Workplace culture is vital

A workplace culture, supporting continuous learning that is integrated into the workflow, is more likely to report improved results such as increased learner engagement and increased responsiveness to business change. Our research shows that L&D teams applying new models of learning are twice as likely to say they have improved the overall culture of learning in their organisation.

This is about equipping L&D as agents of change and enabling the L&D team to become evangelists of the vision for learning in your organisation. Applying a model of learning simply gives you a structured framework upon which to focus your efforts - bringing increased impact.

User feedback is critical

As mentioned earlier, it is important that L&D knows what impact learning is having, so gathering and analysing feedback is critical. Are L&D teams currently doing this? Some are, but not enough.

Under a third (31%) identify the KPIs that they want to achieve up front with senior managers and 36% have a plan for how they will meet the agreed business metrics/KPIs for their programme. The 31% identifying KPIs in advance are three times more likely to agree that line managers provide information on the application of learning.

Fewer than half are trying to measure the impact of social or informal learning, despite the growing recognition of how important these areas of opportunity are. Something as simple as running a survey on how your staff learn, can make a huge difference in knowing what's having an impact and where to make changes.

Results to aim for

Top Deck organisations (the top performing 10% of organisations in the Towards Maturity Index) report much better results regarding the application of learning than those in the bottom Towards Maturity Index quartile. They are:

  • three times more likely to report benefits relating to efficiency and business process improvement
  • five times more likely to report benefits relating to productivity and business responsiveness
  • eight times more likely to report benefits relating to the culture of the organisation

It is vital that L&D involves line managers and business leaders in the learning journey, from analysing the business problem to design to evaluation. Getting all the stakeholders on board, yields results. This is what 95% of L&D leaders want; results that prove the application of learning is happening quickly and effectively.

Benchmark Your L&D Strategy

At Towards Maturity, we have identified six workstreams that characterise successful, high performing organisations. From these workstreams, we have developed a common framework of effective practice.

Benchmarking against that framework helps L&D pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their own organisation, work out what needs to change and map out actions. In short, the Towards Maturity Benchmark is a structured framework that helps learning leaders under pressure identify the actions that will bring tangible results in the workplace.  It helps you to work out how to get from A to B! 

Or find out more about the Towards Maturity Benchmark

Read more in our 'A to B' series:


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