Will learning in the flow of work solve all of our problems?
Training & Learning

Will Learning in the Flow of Work Solve All of Our Problems? Here’s What 3k People Said

“A lack of time is just a lack of priorities.” You’ve probably heard this maxim at least once from a mentor, parent, or manager (or all three!). 

But when it comes to learning at work, employees say it’s just not that simple. 

We conducted a survey of 1,957 learners and 1,004 L&D decision-makers in the US, UK, France, and Germany, and we found that learners face two critical barriers that make it challenging to learn at work. Our data also revealed that L&D teams aren’t invited or resourced to support employees to cope with changes in their roles at their point of need.

Read on to hear more about the barriers employees encounter when learning at work and the critical challenges faced by L&D teams when implementing learning in the flow of work.

Irrelevant content and no time to learn it: The two main barriers of learning at work

Our survey shows that the most common factor stopping employees from learning at work is having a high workload. 

This is especially true for learners in the UK, where 47% of learners responded that they are too busy, as did 39% of employees in Germany. In the US market, 28% told us that their workload stops them from learning at work, while in France, the rate is lower at 19%.

The second most common barrier is that employees aren't offered training that fits in with their workflow. In the US, 1 in 4 learners told us that training isn’t offered to them in a way that fits their work day. The rate is even higher in Germany (31%) and France (28%), while in the UK, 18% of learners find that training doesn’t fit in with their day-to-day work.

Another trend our survey shows is that a high percentage of learners feel that they aren’t getting training tailored to their specific roles. 

In France, the percentage of learners who told us that the training offered isn’t relevant to their job is as high as 29%. In the other three regions, this is also a significant barrier for 24% in Germany, 21% of learners in the US, and 14% in the UK. 

However, a resounding number of learners across all four markets say they know what they need to help remove these barriers. So, what is it going to take?

Looking for more tips on how to facilitate learning in the flow of work? Check out our playbook: How to get learning in the flow of work right

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Practical, hands-on learning in 6 simple steps

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What it takes to make time to learn

Our data reveals that across all four markets, learners identified the same intervention as the most effective way to help them make more time for learning at work. 

In the US, 51% of employees told us that they would be encouraged to make more time for learning at work if they could do it during working hours and/or their manager helped them offload some work to make time. This is also true for 49% of learners in Germany, 47% in the UK, and 46% in France.

And again, there is agreement across all four countries on the second most effective intervention that would help them at their point of need.

In Germany, 45% of learners responded that they would make more time to learn at work if the learning helped them do their job better. 42% of learners in the US, 39% in France, and 31% in the UK said the same–relevant training at the point of need would encourage them to make time for learning at work.

Learners also identified that they were more likely to engage with learning at work if courses were easier to access than they are today.

In the US, 87% of learners said they were very likely or somewhat likely to engage with courses if they were more accessible. This high response is also true for France (84%), the UK (82%), and Germany (79%).

Related: What do your learners really want?

In the US, 87% of learners said they were very likely or somewhat likely to engage with courses if they were more accessible. This high response is also true for France (84%), the UK (82%), and Germany (79%).

Limited resources and budget: Key challenges facing L&D leaders

So, learners have highlighted that learning in the flow of work is what they need. But our data reveals that L&D leaders in all four countries agree that limited resources and budget is a key challenge in facilitating learning in the flow of work.

In the UK, 49% of L&D decision-makers responded that limited resources and budget is the foremost challenge they face in their efforts to facilitate learning in the flow of work. This is also true for L&D leaders in France (44%), the US (37%), and Germany (35%).

Results also show that the second key challenge identified by L&D leaders across all four regions (20% to 24%) is limited support from leadership in how they structure training programs.

L&D decision-makers also recognized a limited understanding of their learners’ preferences and performance challenges as a barrier to facilitating learning in the flow of work (16% to 23%), as well as limited technology and integration capabilities (18% to 21%). 

So, how can you and your team start improving your L&D practice by implementing learning in the flow of work to help upskill employees?

Related: Expert Insights Volume 1: How L&D Can Help Your Company Scale

7 ways to get learning in the flow of work right 

Our survey makes it clear: L&D teams should make learning in the flow of work a priority

By implementing learning in the flow of work, we can support and guide learners at their point of need to help them perform–and make an impact. We’ve come up with seven practical recommendations to get you started.

1. Encourage peer learning: The success of your business is facilitated by encouraging a peer learning culture, enabling each team member to have a significant impact on the company by sharing what they know and helping others upskill from within.

2. Identify learning and performance needs in real-time: Organizations need to find ways to identify learning needs, ideally in the flow of work. Gathering learning needs should happen continuously in real-time, so investing in a learning needs tool is worth it.

3. Pinpoint evergreen problems: Your learners will probably encounter difficulties that hundreds if not thousands of others have already resolved.  These evergreen problems may frequently pop up in onboarding or manager training programs, so this is a good place to start.

4. Leverage technology and integrations: L&D leaders should consider building business cases for integrations with business tools such as MS Teams, Salesforce, Slack, and HRIS systems to meet learners where they are and provide resources in the platforms they use daily.

5. Focus on the needs of learner cohorts: You need to truly understand the requirements and challenges within any one role. A gap analysis between the current reality and the expected performance can be a great place to start–and sometimes, all this takes is the right conversation at the right time. 

6. Get leadership buy-in: Start with a small pilot project that aims to improve the performance of a cohort of learners quickly. You can then use the data from this pilot to gain approval from senior leadership teams and make learning in the flow of work an ongoing priority.

7. Engage your subject-matter experts: Engaging SMEs is an excellent way to support and guide other employees and promote a culture of upskilling from within. To do this effectively, you need to enrol them in solving the problems that are recognized to be costing valuable time, money, and opportunity.

Looking for more ways to promote a culture of upskilling from within? Get in touch with one of our specialists today.

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