What Does It Mean To Learn In The Flow Of Work?
There’s no denying that employee training is essential for businesses that want to thrive and grow in today’s evolving world. However, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that finding the time to learn is more challenging than expected. In fact, it often feels as if employees need to choose between working and learning. And as schedules become busier, we can all guess where the needle is tipping. For this reason, you must approach employee training differently and make sure that it contributes to, rather than hinders, productivity. The solution lies in leveraging an L&D strategy that has been gaining traction in recent years: learning in the flow of work, otherwise known as workflow learning. This article discusses 8 pillars that make workflow learning possible in the modern workplace.
What Is The Definition Of Learning In The Flow Of Work?
In 2018, research analyst Josh Bersin coined the term “learning in the flow of work” and predicted it would be the fifth stage in the evolution of employee training. The previous four stages were eLearning and blended learning, talent management, continuous learning, and digital learning. This learning strategy describes a concept where employees can access training without disrupting their workflow. The idea behind it was that if we could manage to allow workers to learn without pulling them from their tasks, learning would become more appealing and effective. Sure enough, an efficient workflow learning strategy has been proven to increase learner engagement and produce outcomes that can be directly implemented in real-life situations.
8 Basic Principles For A Successful Workflow Learning Strategy
Below, we discuss 8 principles that make learning in the flow of work possible while increasing its chances of success.
1. Relevance To Job Responsibilities And Requirements
As is clearly outlined in the definition, learning in the flow of work means leveraging learning opportunities while maintaining high levels of productivity. For that to be true, the context of the learning content needs to directly relate to the tasks an employee performs on a daily basis. That’s often not the case with traditional learning, as it requires learners to interrupt what they’re doing. Apart from decreasing engagement, this can also impact the applicability of newly acquired knowledge. Workflow learning, on the other hand, takes contextual relevance into consideration, thus ensuring direct knowledge transfer.
The seamless integration of learning into the workday heavily depends on the time it requires, making microlearning a perfect fit for the fast-paced modern workplace. Specifically, when training modules are lengthy and time-consuming, staffers are less likely to find the motivation to even get started. The thought that all this time could be used to complete tasks and advance projects will always hold them back. However, if training material has been broken down into bite-sized chunks that take only a few minutes to complete, employees will find it that much easier to fit them into their busy schedules.
The workflow learning strategy must be adapted to fit each employee and their varying needs, tasks, responsibilities, and learning preferences. Failing to recognize the necessity of personalization will result in an ill-fitting learning program that brings in disappointing outcomes. To avoid this issue and increase this L&D strategy’s effectiveness as much as possible, you must provide employees with a variety of options regarding learning programs, types of formats, difficulty levels, etc. Technology can become a valuable tool for this task, providing you with adaptive learning algorithms and personalized content recommendations that modify an employee’s learning journey according to their choices.
4. Just-In-Time Resources
Learning content needs to be available to employees at all times. When working from home, during a meeting with a client, or while commuting to the office, employees expect their organization’s training resources to be available at the touch of a button. Besides, the basis of learning in the flow of work is being able to leverage learning materials to optimize performance at any given time. Creating a library of just-in-time resources is exactly what your staff needs to make training part of their everyday routine and increase their knowledge base with seemingly no effort. An offline option would also be useful for when an internet connection is unavailable.
Learning doesn’t have to—and frankly, shouldn’t—be a solitary activity. In our everyday work lives, we often find ourselves collaborating with colleagues. Applying the same logic, learning in the flow of work can happen through collaborative and social learning. As employees work together, they exchange opinions and ideas, share knowledge, and push each other to view things from a different perspective. This way, not only are you accomplishing more effective learning but also encouraging teamwork and fostering a sense of community that promotes innovation, growth, and development on an individual and team level.
6. Feedback Exchange
Feedback is essential when working on the professional development of your team, and it is equally important when implementing learning in the flow of work. Employees need to be able to receive regular feedback on the progress of their learning journey and their overall performance. At the same time, it’s crucial that they are comfortable sharing their thoughts, goals, and concerns with their supervisor. This way, you can make sure that appropriate adjustments are made to achieve maximum results. When effective feedback exchange is established, employees feel actively involved in their development, appreciated, and motivated to learn and improve their performance as much as possible.
7. Integration With Technology
Technology plays an important role for employees on a daily basis, whether it is to complete tasks, collaborate with their coworkers, or leverage analytics to make important decisions. Similarly, it can be equally valuable for a successful learning in the flow of work strategy. To name a few examples, you can use Learning Management Systems to organize training material and promote easy access, Artificial Intelligence for personalized content recommendations, and data analytics to optimize the learning process. These tools and many more, such as specialized software, can seamlessly integrate workflow learning into the workplace and help you achieve the best learning results possible.
8. Continuous Learning Culture
Finally, there is no way for workflow learning to function if your company hasn’t fostered a culture of continuous learning. Seeking new knowledge and ways to improve your skills must be an initiative that employees take themselves. If you have to force them to do it, chances are the effects of training won’t last very long. Fostering a learning community can be accomplished in many ways, some of which are rewarding participation, updating learning opportunities frequently, and aligning learning with personal and organizational goals. This way, learning in the flow of work will be something natural for your employees and not an obligation.
Learning in the flow of work encompasses the need of modern businesses to promote employee development while maintaining smooth workflows. Although not a groundbreaking idea, this L&D strategy fits perfectly into the modern business world, where employees are constantly required to expand their knowledge and skills. However, for learning in the flow of work to produce the desired results, some requirements must be met. By embracing the basic principles described in this article, you’ll notice enhanced organizational skills and productivity.