The LMS is failing to deliver for many organizations. This is the conclusion of extensive research conducted by the Brandon Hall Group, a preeminent research and analytics firm. In our recent webinar, Brandon Hall Principal Learning Strategist David Wentworth and Axonify’s Principal Learning Strategist J.D. Dillon discussed the research and what it could mean to leaders like you.
You know the 70-20-10 rule: people learn 70% of what they need to know on the job, 20% through informal coaching or mentoring, and 10% through formal, classroom style learning. Most LMSs are focused on the 10%. They tend to come up short, says David, when it comes to experiential and informal delivery and, in fact, on a scale from 1 to 4, companies rated their LMS as a 2.23 for informal and 2.20 for experiential. These are frustrating ratings for companies, which is likely the reason 44% of them are actually considering replacing their LMS. Given the investment and other costs related to switching technologies this is a pretty stunning admission.
What is going wrong?
Focusing on the 10% is just one of the problems with the LMS. David argues that the LMS has also failed to keep pace with the changing nature of work. Organizations know they need to be more agile, more adaptive to change. Training needs to reflect these changes. Learning happens regardless of what we do, says David. Your people will continue to do their job, talk to colleagues, live their lives. The challenge is how you can use these experiences and bring them into the learning environment. How can you make the most of them, capitalize on them, guide, and measure them? In the end it’s about changing and adapting to fit the way people already learn every day.
How people learn is changing
The workplace is shifting. In 2015, millennials represented 34.6% of the workforce. In 2017, they represent 42.4%. Technology is part of their daily lives. There is no adaptation period for them with respect to mobile and other technology, working at home or on the road. They get their information in many different ways and they expect this in the workplace. Embedded learning is essential to meet the expectation that your millennials and others have. Like everything else in their lives, it must be contextual, individualized, small, informal, mobile, and social.
It has to be accessible
Whether you locate learning at point of sale machines or allow your people to use their own devices, barriers to access must be eliminated. David pointed to the example of one employer who purchased a set of tablets to ease employee access to training, while JD pointed to another example where a lightly staffed store had to solve the issue of pulling its very busy staff from the floor to provide training. The solution? They leveraged breakroom kiosks and broke down content into microbursts of learning that fit the workday and the workflow. The result was a 90% reduction in onboarding time and a weekly average participation of 94%. What you offer behaves specific to a device but you have to be sure that the content, audience and time frame for which you are delivering learning are all suited to specific technologies. Simply giving people access to non-mobile-ready content isn’t good enough anymore.
Driving bottom-line results
It turns out that high-performing organizations know what works. Brandon Hall Group frequently looks at high-performing organizations, organizations with increased revenue, and whose profitability, customer satisfaction and market share has increased year over year to identify just what they are doing differently. One thing they discovered is a direct link between a company’s ability to drive performance through learning and their ability to outperform other organizations. 52% of high-performing organizations ranked their ability to improve organizational performance through learning as effective or very effective while other organizations ranked their effectiveness at 39%. Even more interesting? 64% of high-performing organizations believe they were effective or very effective in improving individual performance, while only 45% of non-high-performing organizations felt they were making effective change in individual performance. If less than half of organizations believe they can improve performance through learning, you have to wonder what is it they’re doing wrong?
The engagement question
One obvious problem is engagement. While we recognize our people have to want to learn and have to be able to see the value in it, most of us aren’t doing anything to actively engage our employees in learning. On several issues related to engagement, the vast majority of companies are not at all prepared to take action. For example, only 17.5% are ready to increase experiential learning opportunities, only 7.9% are ready to move on mobile learning and incorporate social tools and a mere 7.5% are ready to explore gamification. Interestingly, David points out that 84% recognize aligning their learning strategy with the business is either important or critical. Drilling down further, more than 78% identify increasing the amount of experiential learning as either important or critical to achieving their business goals.
The message? We might know we need to do things differently but we’re not prepared to do it. What is clear is that it does make a difference to the bottom line and there is a direct line between employee engagement in learning and employee engagement in the company. Learning matters and businesses know it. Yet, the LMS and other outdated methods aren’t engaging employees in the workplace. Engagement requires a combination of tactics that include making it personal and adaptive, simple, motivating, and fun. A learning environment that is focused on that formal 10% simply can’t do this for you.
Making the connections
You know what creates sales, what keeps customers coming back. Identify those key behaviors your people must exhibit to drive revenue growth, says David, and you have all you need to work backward and design learning that encourages these behaviors. High performers already know this. They also know that engaging their employees means they’ll get buy in on those behaviors. High performers place a premium on such outcomes as individual performance, employee engagement, and team effectiveness. Across the board, low performers view these and other outcomes as far less important. See the difference?
Become a high performer
JD explains that part of encouraging these behaviours is enabling front line managers to leverage the right types of data so that they can act on it. They are the ones who best understand the work and the day to day of your employees. Data tells you who to target and how to focus on motivation, feedback, and value proposition to encourage people to engage. One off measurements such as a checklist in an LMS aren’t good enough. Knowledge must be measured continuously so you can see growth and retention.
Think about performance reviews. These shouldn’t be scheduled monthly or annually anymore. They should be an ongoing process. Learning needs to keep up with that. It doesn’t make sense for learning to be a scheduled, one-off event. It needs to be agile, continuous and embedded into the workflow. It needs to be linked to the results you want to see in your business and it needs to engage your employees. Finally, your learning needs to include actionable data that can be both measured and analyzed. High-performing organizations recognize this. So should you. If your current learning environment isn’t offering what your company needs to succeed, maybe it’s time to consider a change.
Want to hear all this firsthand? Please listen to our webinar recording: 5 Reasons to Rethink the LMS.