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Why Learning in the Flow of Work is the Key to Productivity
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Why Learning in the Flow of Work is the Key to Productivity

Surprisingly, managers actually have a thing or two they can teach workers when it comes to workplace learning (wink). We’ve touched on why and how in our guide to informal learning that you can find here. With the right LMS platform and managerial behaviours, L&D practitioners, managers and leaders can further improve the efficiency of training through the flow of work.

Learning in the flow of work is essentially employee learning on the job. During day to day activities, a new employee may encounter a task that involves something that they don’t fully understand. For example, software or some part of an internal platform. Learning alongside working gives employees access to a carefully curated, short piece of learning content. 

How can learning in the flow of work bring out the best in your team? 

Let’s get stuck in and find out! 

1) It’s learning made engaging

It’s always tempting to pack off your team for a training day after a bad performance review (after all, the office is never quieter), but this is no longer the only way to train. More and more, many employees are finding that learning in the flow of work can be more beneficial because:

  1. They’re in a familiar environment.
  2. They’re actually trying stuff out for themselves.
  3. They’re surrounded by their coworkers (alright, this one isn’t always a good thing). 

Research conducted by corporate L&D analyst Josh Bersin (who coined the term “learning in the flow of work”, no less!) found that 49% of employees prefer to learn at the point of need, when they’re open to receiving information and less stressed.1   Studies suggest that learning when stressed impairs memory retrieval, meaning the chances of your employees retaining what they learned are slim. On top of that, people are less likely to engage with learning materials when they’re preoccupied with work stress. We hate to break it to you, but that challenge you’d had planned to see who clears their inbox the fastest while reciting the company values might not be the most effective training tactic.

Success in workplace learning also depends on the learning experience itself. Organisations that fail to offer engaging L&D strategies shouldn’t expect their employees to learn much, hence, the style of your learning content matters. Which is why we champion the power of storytelling and humour in our video-based learning content… 

Suggested reading: Fancy some ideas for creating a personalised learning and development strategy? Click away, it’s yours!  

Giving employees access to learning pathways and content specifically tailored to their own learning processes — a framework of relevant, continuous learning — is sure to benefit their long-term learning. 

2) Immediately see lessons in action

Learning in the flow of work allows employees to immediately see lessons in action. In other words, it lets employees implement the skills they just learnt. Not only is this a more interesting way of learning for your team, it’s also a really efficient way of making sure the stuff you’re trying to teach actually sticks. After all, you can try to explain Excel in a windowless room and no computers, but you’ll regret everything as soon as someone needs to make a basic spreadsheet.

It’s a classic example of two birds, one stone. According to the CIPD, workplace learning needs to actually support the organisation’s strategy.2 What this comes down to is generic content that doesn’t teach employees what they actually have to know. It’s like learning how to cook a whole turkey without knowing how to boil an egg. 

Employees want to feel valued. One way to help them accomplish this goal is to give them an opportunity to get practical. Going back to the classroom analogy, how much more fun was Chemistry when we conducted the experiments ourselves? Digital learning suited to employee action accomplishes three things: 

  • Saves time and resources by creating pathways that actually work. 
  • Gives employees a sense of value as they take action in understanding the lesson, rather than simply being told what they should’ve learned.
  • Empowers the employees because they choose a way of learning that best-suits them.

Digital and video learning is the ideal candidate for training your employees in a personalised way. By providing employees with relevant, informative and engaging content, you make the journey of learning feel unique and encourage your team to learn more efficiently. After all, it beats sending out a memo that says “learn quicker please, thanks!” 

Suggested reading: Here are 6 reasons why video should be a part of your digital learning solution.

3) You can fully own your learning pathways

There’s been somewhat of a renaissance in terms of workplace structures as we’ve entered an era dubbed the “new normal” (we know, such a niche term! Don’t know if you’ve come across it yet). Remote and hybrid working has exploded in popularity with employees. 

Learning cultures are adapting to suit a hybrid workplace, where learning and development is no longer a box to be ticked but is instead shaping day-to-day activities at work. Encouraging a positive learning culture could feel like a sudden demand, but it’s really important to understand that hybrid learning is here to stay and demands us to adapt. Sort of like when your toddler wakes up one day and decides they no longer like the cereal they loved yesterday. Workplace learning for workers is set for brighter days it seems. Yet for managers, these changes could see them struggle to acclimate to this new way of working. 

Suggested reading: Learn more about the benefits of a workplace learning culture with this stellar blog — and yes, we do say that ourselves.

Learning in the flow of work mediates this issue. It gives managers, L&D practitioners and business leaders the opportunity to curate content for any given scenario. Of course, this would be a work in progress, but would allow them to witness and adapt to how employees learn best. This helps to create learning tools containing short snippets of engaging, educational content that:

  • Benefit learner engagement
  • Are refined by senior members of staff.
  • Are based on how the employees themselves learn. 

This also leads the way to other methods of effective workplace learning. Employees learning in the flow, in close proximity to the instructors who designed the pathway, sets the stage for laser-precise performance support. If employees need more support about specific learning tools, managers are on hand to offer relevant advice. As we showed in this article on the changing role of management conversations, 89% of HR leaders believe on-going feedback and check-ins have positive impacts on organisations. And while it’s been a while since we did a Maths lesson, we do know that’s a powerful statistic. So, just imagine the benefits of managers working closely with employees within learning frameworks that they helped develop. 

Conclusion

And there we have it! There’s no doubting the strengths that learning in the flow of work lends to employees and managers. After all, amongst learning solutions, it’s perhaps the most viable option for saving time, increasing productivity and a consistent source of employee development. As David James states in this excellent podcast: “developing standardised [learning] solutions will make limited impact.”3 It’s up to L&D practitioners to not fall into this pattern, to ensure that what employees learn really sticks with them for the long run. 

On a practical level, basic training is expected for new employees. However, allowing them to learn the many operational nuances at their own pace, and giving managers who oversee such operations on a daily basis a chance to select what content is readily available, empowers everyone involved in the process and makes it unique to your company. 

But without the right learning management system that facilitates the running of that bespoke learning content, the type that improves learner engagement, adapts to your framework and encourages micro-learning, your learning materials run the risk of becoming stale. Video Arts puts humour and storytelling at the core of corporate learning. And let’s face it: if it’s replacing the awful jokes made by Ben in HR on training days, it’s worth it.

Want to find out more? Book a trial today!  

1 A New Paradigm For Corporate Training: Learning In The Flow of Work | Josh Bersin 

2 Learning in the flow of work | CIPD 

3 The Learning & Development Podcast: The L&D Detective Kit For Solving Impact Mysteries With Kevin M. Yates | Looop 

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