April 28, 2022

Upskilling Employees in the Flow of Work


Est. Reading: 6 minutes

Retain and Advance Employees Through Upskilling

Workplace training has transformed in the last 30 years in response to new technologies and changes in the job market. Leveraging an organization’s existing tools and giving workers the ability to learn while they work are key components of a successful workplace training program.

Employees Are Motivated to Learn

Modern workers are facing a dilemma. On one hand, they are highly motivated to learn; however, on the other hand, they find it increasingly difficult to incorporate training into their workflow and free time.

According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report94% of employees would consider staying longer at a company that invests in training. Access to continuous training and skill development is also an important factor for many applicants when considering whether they will accept a job offer from a company.

Despite the drive to learn, time continues to be one of the top-cited barriers cited by employees when it comes to learning in the workplace. The pace of learning and the ability to do it on their own time is most important to modern employees. A study found that 58% of employees preferred self-paced courses, while 49% are interested in learning that can be done in the flow of their daily work.

“We really need to change and think about more productive and sustainable ways to help connect talent to opportunity, and our view is that that’s going to be done through a skills-based approach.”

Getting in the Flow of Learning

– Ryan Roslansky, CEO, LinkedIn

Josh Bersin coined the term “learning in the flow of work” in the face of all the changes workplace training has undergone in the last 30 years. It refers to training that is integrated into the employee’s workflow, allowing them to learn how to solve specific issues quickly and most effectively for their day-to-day work. In the age of bite-sized content and hybrid work environments, this concept has become more relevant than ever and has helped to shape the future of workplace training.

Despite the initial challenges people experience when tackling remote work, employees value the benefits overall—more flexibility, no commute, and increased time to concentrate on work. And a rather unexpected motivation that grew from the freedom remote work offers has been employees’ desire for upskilling opportunities to support them in staying competitive, productive, and better with self-managing in their new remote or hybrid positions.

Another root motivation for upskilling is represented in the more harrowing trends seen for the future of work. For example, 14% of current jobs are at risk of disappearing and 32% are set out to change drastically as automation takes over more tasksWhat’s more: by 2030, 39% of full-time jobs could be automated.

With so many of the job opportunities we see today projected to vanish in the next decade, upskilling and reskilling become imperative. Companies are evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of their staff to find areas of growth, and employees are more motivated than ever to adapt to a changing landscape and improve their skills.

Upskilling Employees Benefits the Entire Organization

High-quality training programs don’t just attract new talent—they are a tool for improving employee retention. When a company invests in staff training, employees feel valued and motivated. Training programs keep the talent the organization already has, saving money on hiring and onboarding new employees. This is a huge benefit as hiring a new employee can take up to 50 days and over $4,000. Investing in training to keep existing talent within the company not only makes sense but is a cost-effective business initiative.

Aside from boosting employee retention and saving your organization an ample chunk of change, prioritizing training and upskilling has been shown to benefit companies by:

  • Filling needed skill gaps within an organization
  • Creating a supportive culture of learning
  • Building a competitive advantage
  • Increasing employee motivation and morale
  • Improving customer interactions and satisfaction

With the surge of remote work and hybrid teams, the need for agile training and skill development tools has only grown. Managers have struggled with placing learning opportunities in the flow of their employees’ work, making it difficult for them to effectively deliver, monitor, and analyze training and manage its efficacy.

Plus, if managers choose to add new tools to help them improve on their upskilling initiatives, it still requires that employees are well-informed on using these technologies or platforms. This creates a new need for organizational training, which can be executed in a few different ways.

The two most common methods of creating and delivering training are macro-learning and micro-learning. Macro-learning—which uses long-form content and support from instructors to teach theory and guide practice—is one of the more traditional forms of delivering learning and has a variety of benefits.

However, when it comes to delivering learning in the flow of work, micro-learning—which introduces new information in small chunks and shorter periods—is more well-suited to the flexible, self-paced training structure employees are looking for.

Micro-Learning and Upskilling for the Win

With 94% of managers and business owners expecting their employees to learn new skills on the job, micro-learning has become a rising trend in workplace training as it allows workers to more seamlessly learn in the flow of work.

This is due in part to the easeful approach of micro-learning, as it uses bite-sized multimedia training content to teach practical skills and solve specific issues. For companies looking to train workers in the flow of work, this is the ideal format to upskill employees on the go without disrupting operations or asking workers to learn in their free time.

Though this format is well-tailored for learning in the flow of work structures, it’s not meant to replace more traditional training such as classroom or in-person training. Both have specific uses and can be beneficial for learners. Macro-learning is better to teach complex ideas and principles and reinforce them with targeted practice, discussion in class, and support from an instructor. For these reasons, macro-learning can also be a great tool for reskilling, or training workers for a new position or industry.

However, when it comes to upskilling employees on new skills—especially soft skills—micro-learning can be very helpful technique to employ. While workers can bridge gaps in technical knowledge with quick tutorials, soft skills require a more nuanced approach. One option is to offer soft skill training in the flow of work—such as time management, critical thinking, and communication—which can be broken down into shorter steps or processes learners can practice immediately to see rapid improvement.

Leverage Your Current Toolset with an Integrated LMS

As mentioned earlier, having a well-established upskilling and training structure requires the right tools and technologies. A learning management system or LMS is often regarded as one of the most agile and supportive tools when it comes to the effective management of company learning and training efforts.

A learning management system is designed to provide tailored training to employees in a way that best fits with their company setup and structure. For managers, these learning solutions allow for agile content creation and delivery, and some also have tracking tools to help analyze the efficiency of their training programs. For employees, a learning platform can offer seamless access to upskilling and general learning opportunities that can help them excel in their day-to-day work.

And as bringing on new tools can also require additional training, employing an LMS that leverages and integrates with your current workplace tools can save your company time and energy while getting your employee learning off to a more familiar start.

For organizations using the Microsoft 365 suite of tools, the learning platform, LMS365 is an excellent all-in-one learning solution as it is the only one of its kind that is natively built into Microsoft technologies. This means that managers can deliver customized, macro-, and micro-learning into the flow of employees’ familiar digital work environment.

Finding the Flow of Upskilling

Upskilling and learning in the flow of work are some of the most significant developments in employee training. By allowing workers to incorporate learning in their daily work and using tools already in their tech stack, organizations build more flexible, resilient teams who are more likely to stay with the company for longer. In addition to a hearty boost in employee retention, providing dedicated skill development opportunities ensures workers have everything they need to stay motivated, informed, and performing at their best.

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