Learning in the flow of work is the idea that learning can be done through the work employees do. It is the art of managing work and training without having to compromise on either of them. Hence, making the lives of employees easier. That is why a recent study shows that 49% of employees are in favor of this learning model. In this article, you will learn how this innovative concept can transform corporate training and yield the optimal result.
The concept of 'learning in the flow of work' was introduced by Josh Bersin. Bersin is a leading industry analyst, author, and the founder of Bersin and Associates - an advisory enterprise. After seeing that traditional learning and training programs require employees to juggle their busy schedules and overburden them, Bersin came up with the perfect solution. Rather than dividing time between tasks, he put emphasis on learning through on-the-job experience. Therefore, making corporate learning less demanding and employee-friendly.
What is learning in the flow of work?
As the name suggests, the concept operates by putting the learning into the work. So, rather than pushing employees to enroll in tedious courses, it teaches them core skills with the tasks already assigned to them. But make no mistake, this does not mean entirely cutting down on structured learning, instead, it strives to strike a balance between macro and micro learning models.
To illustrate it better, here is a little example. Imagine that a company has taken on new responsibilities, perhaps there has been a shift of roles. Now, this shuffling around of tasks can leave your employees in a spiral without the right guidance. Moreover, corporate trainers are not cheap to come by, now who is to sort this matter? This is where learning in the flow of work comes into action. With minimal spearheading, you can effectively mentor your employees into independent professionals.
The need for learning in the flow of work
If you are wondering about the relevance of this idea to your organization, here are some reasons why you should definitely look into it.
- Traditional learning is demanding and ineffective. It is a constant struggle for the workers to manage their time between work and learning. Contrarily, learning in the flow of work offers a balanced solution to this dilemma.
- It produced measurable impact which is easier for L&D experts to scale and assess. Since it reduces the direct teaching burden off the shoulders of trainers, they can focus more on evaluating the effectiveness of training content. Moreover, they have greater availability for addressing employee concerns.
- Lays emphasis on developing meaningful and supportive connections. Unlike the traditional training style, here learners and trainers work on equal terms and relatively independently. Hence, it also contributes to developing learners' critical evaluative skills.
- Learning in the flow of work promises more productivity by optimizing time management. Since workers can learn and work simultaneously and are better equipped to overcome challenges on-site, they end up being more productive.
- It provides valuable context for learning. Note that learning does not happen in a vacuum. One needs to be aware of the purpose of learning i.e. context. Learning on-site enables them to train practically.
- Finally, it reports longer retention rates. By incorporating micro and macro learning, learners get both base knowledge and at the same time learn from on-the-job challenges. That is to say, learners are exposed to the best of both worlds.
A look at its primary components
As mentioned above, the two learning formats that makeup learning in the flow of work are micro and macro learning. Let's take a look at the greater detail.
Micro learning is a learning model, rather than a strategy that breaks down bigger chunks of information into bite-size pieces. The strategy functions by periodically repeating these pieces of information so that learners may not forget them. It is an ongoing learning method that compliments macro learning. Ideally, it is a better fit for employees who have some experience and need further development on a skill.
Macro learning is also known as structured learning. It follows the traditional learning methodology and emphasizes directed detailed learning. A good example is the preparatory onboarding training or lecture series. Since it is more thorough, it is an ideal match for new recruits who require more background knowledge regarding the company's operations. In fact, research shows that new recruits benefit more from macro learning.
How to implement learning in the flow of work?
Ever had a challenging task that you just couldn't cover on your own and decided to reach out to your colleagues? Well, that simply is 'learning in the flow of work' in action. According to the 70:20:10 learning and retention model, the majority (70%) of the learning takes place on the job through practice. Hence, corporations must learn how to do it effectively. Here are some easy steps to achieve it.
Pair it up with existing ICT systems.
This is to say that making use of your in-use LMS otherwise invest in one to host your learning content in one designated place. Platforms such as Teachfloor come equipped with necessary tools that enable trainers to design and deliver the learning materials to the employees. Moreover, employees can access the learning material anytime anywhere hassle-free.
Incorporate a holistic learning approach.
It refers to the four-factor learning approach by Bersin; education, experience, exposure, and environment. Education focuses on the formal and informal methods of knowledge sharing. Experience is about everyday on-the-job learning be it through social interactions or through formal training. Exposure centers around feedback, mentoring - any and all forms of collaborative learning. Finally, the environment looks at providing the right set of tools, infrastructure, and atmosphere that is conducive to learning.
Curate targeted content
Ensure that the content is relevant to the needs of the learners while also achieving company goals. Moreover, focus on when to deliver the content - when is the right time for what. It also refers to investing in adequate tools to support the development and delivery of the content. Carefully select a supportive content hosting platform. This shows that content creation is not an isolated task.
Build a learning conducive culture
Investing in learning LMS or hiring a corporate trainer does not ensure the end of this story. For effective learning in the flow of work, having a supportive and thriving learning corporate culture is also necessary. Learning can only occur when learners feel the curiosity and motivation to seek knowledge. If they are burdened with work most of the time and if the company sees investing crucial time for this as a waste, then it simply won't yield the expected outcomes. Hence, create a culture wherein employees feel encouraged to learn more.
Learning in the flow of work looks at how one can learn from anything and everything, that learning is not limited to classrooms, and is in fact, an ongoing process. It supports and encourages employees to learn without compromising their work life. So when employees learn and perform better at work, it only adds to the benefit of the company. That is to say, investing in your employees is investing in your company.