Why the right content is key for propelling your business forward

During last week’s webinar, David Wentworth, Principal Learning Analyst at Brandon Hall Group (BHG) and Craig Wahl, Vice President of Client Experience at Axonify talked about the role content plays in corporate learning and how crucial it is for driving business outcomes.

But, first, they opened the session up with a live poll and asked the audience: “Which best describes the stage of maturity for your organization’s learning content?”

54% of participants said they’re currently exploring ways to modernize their content approach, 31% are retrofitting their learning content and mico-sizing, and 14% are focused on specific business outcomes and measuring impact.

These results are on par with what Wahl normally sees in his line of work. He said that it makes sense for most companies to be in the exploration phase, since it takes time to get to the modernized content approach. But, leaders have to first embrace this shift in mindset, before they can begin focusing on business impacts.

Many forward-thinking companies do realize the impact effective corporate learning content can have on their business and are willing to make the investment. But how much are they spending and on what? To gain a better understanding of the current corporate learning landscape, BHG conducted a study of their own.

Here’s what it found:

    • Over 50% of companies surveyed spend 20% or more of their learning budget on content
    • 31% of companies expect to increase the amount they spend on content

So, what are they spending it on?

        • 80% of companies purchase at least some of their content off the shelf
        • 98% create some of their content internally
        • Less than 50% receive it from a content aggregator subscription

Companies are devoting a significant amount of resources to content production. However, for corporate learning to make a true impact on business goals, it needs to look beyond traditional models. Whether content is built in-house or outsourced externally, first and foremost, it should align with a business goal. It should also be agile, contextual, dynamic, personal, relevant, and timely to the learning required by a modern workplace.

Making your existing content relevant today

Unfortunately, content remains a challenge for many companies. In fact, BHG found 50% of organizations deem their existing content irrelevant to their current business needs, and 39.6% said they’re stuck with too much outdated content.

Producing relevant resources requires a shift in the way you think about content and in the way your employees interact with it. It also requires an understanding of how content impacts performance.

A model for modern content creation

As an example, Wahl walked through Axonify’s model for modern content creation that’s proven to drive business results. He suggests focusing on the business result first. Ask yourself, ‘What do you need your people to know to improve business results?’ Then, begin to build content that is:

Focused on the desired business outcome

Start by carving out the information that is contextual or ‘nice-to-know’ and zero in on the critical, ‘need-to-know’ information that ties directly to a specific business objective. Any content that doesn’t align with that objective should be eliminated.

Fitted to a busy employee’s schedule

Instead of overwhelming employees with a massive amount of content, deliver it in bite-sized chunks so that the brain can consume and retain it more successfully. Also, enable your employees to access content anywhere and anytime so they can participate in learning whenever it fits into their routine.

Formatted to be meaningful

Once your content is focused on a business outcome and fitted to be accessible for the employee, now you can think about which format is most effective for the delivery of your content. Understand what you’re trying to accomplish and reinforce that knowledge by putting it into a format that drives engagement in a repetitive nature. Create an environment where your employees want to learn and improve themselves—and, in turn, improve your business.

So, how do you begin creating this focused, fitted and formatted content?

When creating content—start with the end in mind

        1. Identify a business goal – What is the business goal that the subject matter will address? How will you measure this business outcome?
        2. Define performance – What do employees need to DO to impact the business goal? How can we impact behavioral change to impact this result and how will it be measured?
        3. Establish Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs) – These are key to the overall process. What is the minimum that employees need to know to achieve the performance goal?
        4. Establish Key Learning Points – KSAs feed into the key learning points that should drive all of the content that’s created. What is the minimum content that needs to be reinforced to meet the performance goal? This is where you focus on the need-to-know and eliminate the nice-to-know.
        5. Create micro-topics – Here, you take eight to ten key learning points that can be logically grouped together to form a micro-topic for more digestible, impactful learning.
        6. Content – Now, you can start to think about content—based on the key learning points. By going through this process, you’re better equipped to make informed decisions on what kind of content you want to create and how it should be delivered. Instead of starting with the delivery aspect, you go through this exercise first—and then, you figure out if it makes sense to deliver your content via video, reinforcement questions, etc.

This model doesn’t necessarily mean you need to throw out all of your existing content and replace it with brand new content. This methodology can be applied to existing third-party content, aggregated content and, of course, existing in-house content. It’s agile, and it’s about looking at your business goals and challenges critically so that the content you create always starts with a clear objective in mind.

This approach to content creation will also allow you to make changes on the fly to any component, which is critical in today’s changing workplace. Always go back to: What is the learning objective? What do you need your employees to do? Then, identify the key learning points, establish the questions, observe the behaviors, and adjust as you go.

What modern content can do for your business

In the end, it’s both the content and finding the best way to deliver it which really drives the overall result. In closing, Wahl shared some of the successes experienced by companies that have used the Axonify model to modernize their content and delivery:

        • A national multi-brand retailer with 50,000 employees and a business goal to reduce violations of alcohol sales to minors.

Results: 14% increase in knowledge and a 94% voluntary participation rate led to a 90% reduction in violations from 20/month to 2/month.

        • A global manufacturer with 20,000 employees wanted to reduce costs associated with workplace injuries.

Results: 13% increase in knowledge and a voluntary participation rate of over 80% led to a 40% reduction in Recordable Incident Rate (RIR) and 31% reduction in the Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFR).

        • A fortune global 500 service provider with 1,000 call center employees wanted to reduce call handling times, reduce repeat calls and increase customer value.

Results: 14% increase in knowledge and a voluntary participation rate of 78% led to a 14-second drop in call handling times, 22% drop in repeat calls and a 5% increase in customer value.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to maximize time, money, and resources when it comes to creating strategic learning content, be sure to check out our latest webinar: Wrong Content = Wrong Results – Why the Right Content is Key for Propelling your Business Forward.

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