Why L&D Needs Flexible, Scalable Content
Given all the changes in recent years, ranging from how the pandemic has upended work models to continued technological advancements, learning and development (L&D) strategies can’t afford to be stagnant. Training materials can quickly become outdated, and employees’ priorities can shift rapidly, too.
In fact, a 2021 CGS survey looking at what’s causing the Great Resignation found that the desire to gain new skills/promotions is a Top 3 factor when considering whether to remain at a current job or find a new one. Plus, nearly two-thirds of employees have concerns about how innovation/other trends will affect their careers.
That’s likely why L&D professionals are spending a lot of their time examining the opportunities being offered to employees. Specifically, 55 percent are spending more than one-quarter of their time redesigning or rethinking their learning programs, according to our Enterprise Learning 2022 Annual Report.
In many cases, that means reorienting learning programs to be more flexible and scalable.
For example, more flexible content might mean that employees can access learning materials in their preferred formats, at their own pace. Meanwhile, scalable content might leverage technology more, so more employees can access learning materials, rather than limiting L&D to the number of in-person training sessions that a company can put together.
That’s likely why L&D teams are often prioritizing the building out libraries of reusable/modular content. This was a new answer option for this year’s survey, where we asked L&D professionals to rate the emphasis they place on various areas to prepare for future needs and trends in learning.
The results show that 65 percent at large organizations (those with 5,000+ employees) say building out libraries of reusable/modular content is at least a slight priority. Smaller organizations show an even greater preference, with 97 percent ranking it as at least a slight priority. More specifically, 59 percent at smaller organizations say that it’s a high or the highest priority, which could indicate that companies with fewer resources can overcome this size limitation through flexible, scalable content.
Turning to Technology
To build out more flexible and scalable training programs, L&D professionals can turn to technology. In-person training still has its place, but logistically, it’s typically easier to achieve scale digitally. Once a training video gets recorded, for example, there’s no limit to how many employees can watch it, which can be particularly helpful amidst turnover. You don’t have to run the same sessions constantly for new employees if materials are available online.
To that point, 74 percent of L&D professionals in our Enterprise Learning survey expect to increase video usage in 2022, a number similar to what we found the previous year. That consistency indicates that the shift to video was not a one-off event, but rather that more still needs to be done to accommodate the new ways in which employees learn and work.
“[We experienced an] increased use of technology that has improved agility and scalability [since the pandemic] ... [there's been a] major focus on increasing engagement to fight digital fatigue and reduced attention span.”
– Global Service Design Manager, Training, Global Platform for Luxury Goods
But L&D professionals don’t need to limit themselves to static videos. Nearly half of the respondents expect to increase their usage of augmented reality/virtual reality/mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) in 2022.
These learning formats are more engaging and interactive than standalone videos, while still providing scale. Rather than being limited by the number of people who can attend a live training demonstration in-person, for example, AR/VR/MR can enable remote employees to join in while getting a deeper experience than they might have with videos.
Don’t Set It and Forget It
To get the most out of redesigned L&D programs, it’s important to maintain a willingness to change, rather than getting stuck in whatever the redesign looks like. That often means making L&D a two-way street between employees and L&D leaders.
Organizations can launch “an accessible and scalable experience by ensuring employees know how to access modules, courses, and resources and asking for feedback to make improvements along the way,” notes Microsoft.
The good news is that L&D teams are shifting toward more collaboration. Our 2022 report finds around 7 out of 10 L&D professionals survey employees at least quarterly about the types of training tools they need. In the year prior, less than half did so at that frequency.
As L&D teams collect more feedback, it can often be easy to then adjust reusable/modular content, such as by adding or removing content blocks to multi-part training programs. Or, even if content like a video needs to get re-recorded, that can then be easier to push out at scale, rather than bringing all employees back in for live sessions that address these changes.
Want to learn more about how L&D professionals can provide employees with better content that is more flexible and scalable? Take a look at our full Enterprise Learning 2022 Annual Report.