From A to B: Creating a strategy that supports learning in the workflow

by | Jul 25, 2016 | 0 comments

Early indicators from this year’s Benchmark show that L&D leaders want to support staff where it matters most – directly in the workplace. The vast majority (91%) of those who benchmarked early this year are looking to integrate learning into the workflow. That is a rise up from 80% last year- so how do we make that work?

There is a lot of debate around new models and frameworks for workplace learning: Jane Hart’s thinking around Modern Workplace Learning, 70:20:10, seek, sense, share are excellent examples, but what actually works and how do we get started?

Let’s take the 70:20:10 framework and its central premise that most of our learning happens while we are actually doing our jobs rather than on a training course. Just in case anyone is a little hazy on the detail, here is what 70:20:10 represents. The idea is that 70% of learning happens from real life and on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem solving, 20% comes from feedback and from observing and working with others. That leaves 10% coming from formal training such as classes, courses and reading.

Whilst the numbers may differ from case to case, this framework certainly helps outline the shift we need to make. Instead of targeting all our resources into formal learning we need to shift our activity to increasing the ways of support learning in the flow of work.

So how can we use the principles behind this framework help us get from aspiration to reality?

The activities behind 70:20:10 that ‘just work’

Earlier this year, we produced an In-Focus report with expert Charles Jennings called 70+20+10=100: The Evidence Behind The Numbers. Some really interesting facts were highlighted, such as the fact that 47% of L&D professionals think their approach is shaped by models that support learning in the workflow. That figure rose to 86% of organisations in the Top Deck (the 10% of high performing organisations in our benchmarking Index). Are they gaining anything from integrating learning in the workflow? According to our figures, they definitely are. We found that compared with their peers who were not using models they were:

  • 4x more likely to report that they responded faster to business change
  • 3x more likely to report improvements in employee motivation

How to embed learning in the workflow

All three activity areas – workflow (70), social (20) and formal (10) – need to be properly thought out and balanced. Our research found that those who used the models were more likely to be using technology to support their efforts and critically, to help employees find what they needed, at the point of need. In particular, they were twice more likely to use performance support tools, four times more likely to provide staff with access to job aids and 50% more likely to use learning communities and communities of practice. Shockingly, they were also eleven times more likely to help employees find what they need through content curation.

That’s not all. Many other benefits were also highlighted in the report, such as efforts around building connections in the workplace. The organisations practicing models like 70:20:10 were twice more likely to agree that coaching and mentoring were an active part of work culture, twice more likely to agree that they help individuals locate in-house experts and eight times more likely to agree that they encourage employees to solve problems collaboratively using online social media tools.

Moving beyond the course

When it comes to formal learning (the 10%), 70:20:10 enthusiasts again seem to be more proactive in their approach. For example, they are twice as likely to use online books, podcasting and video content.

Formal learning is designed to reach out beyond the course, supporting business and individual performance. As a result, L&D in those organisations are twice as likely to analyse the business problem before recommending a solution, three times more likely to involve users in the design of learning and seven times more likely to use spaced learning to assist in retention.

Top Deck organisations are much more likely to actively support learning in the workflow. How?

  • 90% expect managers to take responsibility for developing the skills of their staff, compared to 60% of non-top deck organisations
  • 82% actively encourage employees to take on new work experiences as an opportunity to learn (38%)
  • 78% encourage employees to learn from their mistakes as well as from others (41%)

A culture of continuous learning

One of the reasons why 70:20:10 is successful is that it gets the L&D team and its organisation thinking beyond the course. It’s about continuous learning, it’s about informal learning that happens each day as part of the workflow. Facilitating and encouraging that learning really delivers results for organisations and for individuals.

Engaging learners

70:20:10 also engages learners better. Our Learning Landscape research shows that social and collaborative learning are really important to learners. On average, 90% of the 5,000 surveyed say working in collaboration with their team members is essential or very useful. They want to learn from each other. What else did we discover? That 37% find formal learning essential or very useful. But, a whole lot more find social learning essential or very useful (66%) and 57% experiential learning.

Getting business buy-in

As with any learning initiative, L&D needs business buy-in in order for it to be successful. That means engaging with business leaders and line managers, involving them in the design of training, encouraging line managers to take responsibility for their teams’ learning and the following up – collecting the data that shows where learning is making a difference.

Again, Top Deck organisations are doing all of this. They are reporting the biggest bottom-line business benefits as they come through the Towards Maturity Benchmark. We would do well to benchmark ourselves against them and take a leaf out of their book!

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:

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!

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