Corporate Learning 4.0 – focusing on the learners

In times of ever shorter innovation cycles, learning has shot to the top of the list when it comes to gaining a competitive edge. However, it can only be considered an edge when the training on offer is tailored to the needs of the workforce – after all, they are key to actually implementing change.
June 18, 2020
4 min
Johannes Starke, Product Manager Learning & E-Learning Expert, tts GmbH Johannes Starke

Whether it’s rolling out a new piece of software, enhancing their focus on customers or increasing innovativeness, companies have to be agile when responding to new developments if they are to be successful in today’s volatile environment. However, that requires employees who are able to keep pace with these changes.

To achieve this, innovative companies are already pursuing an agile learning culture. They have recognized that working and learning go hand in hand, and have organized their staff development accordingly. But not all learning is the same.

Current developments in corporate learning

The VUCA world affects both everyday working conditions and the way employees learn.

  • Working and learning as a continuous process
    The context in which people learn is changing, as the line between working and learning becomes blurred. In the best case scenario, a cycle of experimentation, reflection, adaptation and networking will develop.
  • New methods gain in importance
    Training programs that fit perfectly into this process – such as social learning, co-creation and learning by teaching – are becoming increasingly important. In these methods, employees take control of their own learning, while also receiving support from internal community managers.
  • Learning is increasingly self-organized
    As a result, this also means that learners will be much more responsible for their own personal development in the future. To ensure this is successful, it is advisable to actively support employees as they “learn to learn”.
  • Staff development prepares the ground
    All this means the role of staff development is changing, too. While it was previously responsible for organizing structured training courses, most of its work these days is about creating the correct framework within which the employees can organize their own development.

Focusing on the learners

To create effective training programs, it therefore makes sense to involve the learners early on in the development process. This ensures learners’ needs can be factored in right from the design stage, meaning programs can be tailored accordingly. Interviews can be used to clarify questions such as the following:

  • What are the needs of the learners?
  • What are the factors that cause them frustration?
  • What motivates them?
  • How do they learn outside of work?
  • What IT skills do they have?
  • What are their daily challenges?
  • How could they be supported in their work?

Personas can be developed based on the results of this, and in turn, these can be used to systematically test the practicality of the programs.

Learners in the organization

But that is just the beginning. After all, from an organizational standpoint, the idea is to create a package that offers “all-round satisfaction” and is focused completely on the needs of the learners. The next step therefore has to bring in more perspectives. Now, the priority is finding answers to the following questions, among others:

  • What are the strategic goals of the organization, and to what extent do the training programs help achieve them?
  • Which internal and external stakeholders have an influence on and/or benefit from the programs? Could external customers be included, for example?
  • How do self-organized teams influence the learners’ learning process?

A learning culture that holds up

When designing organizational training programs, the objective must be to take all these perspectives into account to an equal extent. If this is successfully achieved, the HR department will have created the best conditions for a learning culture to develop within the organization that

  1. Meets the requirements of the VUCA world,
  2. Creates value for the learners and for the organization and
  3. Boosts the competitiveness of the entire company

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