Learning & DevelopmentLearning Programs

Learning in the flow of work – why is it so important these days?

dark-haired female in a bright room working on her laptop

In the times of total virtual exploration of the world, the fast pace of life, and the changeability of the environment, people, and jobs, the need to develop in a well-defined, organized, and at the same time flexible way is indisputable. People have always strived for knowledge, certainty, and new challenges. Employers should satisfy these needs of employees by means of modern learning and development opportunities.

What is the “learning in the flow of work” concept coined by Josh Bersin?

In the times of information and digitized work environment, the ways of learning and gaining experience have changed considerably. In 1998, Google was founded and the whole world soon discovered that access to information could be instantaneous. That revolution transformed the way people communicated and learned – and the transformation is still in progress. The manner in which people around the world absorb information as well as their daily habits have changed beyond recognition. Learning must be quick, based on images and buzzwords – that’s what makes it nice and easy. 

Employees work more and they work quicker. Expectations keep growing and the change has become the norm. The overload of stimuli and the pace of work result in lowered processing information capabilities. Trainings which take hours may be a valuable form of knowledge transfer but they are no longer relevant and applicable. What employees need nowadays is short, attractive, and personalized input at the time of their choice.

These changes have been recognized by Josh Bersin. He is one of the most experienced L&D experts and an L&D industry analyst, a speaker and an author of books on workplace education and technologies supporting learning. 

evolution of corporate training to learning in the flow of work by Josh Bersin
Source: joshbersin.com 

How corporate training has evolved over decades

Bersin described a methodology based on the application of engaging “knowledge pills” at work. He claims that modern L&D systems should encourage learners to acquire knowledge by means of easy-to-use tools, filled with attractive content. He points out that the time devoted to learning should be really short. His research revealed that employees can learn only 4 minutes a day. Learning which is not separated from the flow of work and content which is relevant and adjusted to a given employee’s role – these are the pillars of Bersin’s concept. Short videos, podcasts, presentations, games, and sets of instructions are the most effective methods of knowledge transfer.

Tools which help employees learn in the flow of work are based on mechanisms that make it possible to adapt the content to the professional interests, talents, and pace of development of a given person as well as measure out knowledge in a way that does not overload anyone’s cognitive abilities. This is particularly important, as information overload is a common problem these days. The infamous multitasking can actually cause damage to human brain and psyche. Focusing on a number of subjects at once ends up in the feeling of stress and tension and lowers creativity and productivity. 

This is why it is essential to make use of tools that give access to specific, useful elements of knowledge in the flow of work.

The goal of learning in the flow of work is to learn effectively – to maximize efficiency, build up motivation and engagement, counteract occupational burnout, and increase employee satisfaction. 

How to create and implement an effective L&D strategy to make learning in the flow of work a dominating method of employee development?

Changing the way employees learn and develop is a top priority of businesses these days, especially in light of the pandemic. Microlearning and combining learning with work – these are the ultimate trends of today. 

Organizations need to invest in adequate tools and technologies to provide employees with opportunities to learn at work. The best idea is to find a reliable provider of L&D solutions and implement an internal L&D platform. This is the first step toward learning in the flow of work.

The possibility of learning and acquiring knowledge in an easy and stress-free way is the most powerful vehicle of motivation. Employee engagement grows when the organization supports the staff’s aspirations through quality development-oriented activities. Learning is part of human nature, just like problem solving and striving to grow and improve. Employers who understand these needs and ensure ways to meet them can expect that their employees will remain with the organization for a long time and that the candidates will always be interested in their job offers. 

If you want to take care of employee development and optimize the L&D processes in your organization, you need to consider a few tools that might help you transfer crucial information in the form of “knowledge pills”.

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Launching an in-company messenger will surely be appreciated by employees, as it will help them communicate freely and make their own decisions concerning the choice of content and the time spent on using the available resources. 

Newsletters and one-pagers on a development platform are quick methods of communicating important issues and evoking interest in the current subjects related to the company or to the acquired material.

That’s not all, though. When describing his model, Bersin suggested the ways to use workflow learning with the help of the 4Es paradigm. This means that apart from tools and programs, important elements of education and valuable sources of knowledge include experience, job rotation, collaboration, coaching, feedback, and relationships.

Other significant motivational factors include activity and innovativeness boosts, providing a platform for idea realization and knowledge sharing. Leaders are aware that cooperation and co-responsibility are the key. The same refers to co-creation, as employees can co-create knowledge that will serve them all. Tutorials, case studies, and success stories should be based on the company reality: the experience of colleagues may be very impactful and engaging. Giving awards for engagement in knowledge sharing may foster its growth. 

Now that the world is approaching the end of the pandemic, it is still important to build mental and physical resilience, so pieces of information about psychology, especially when it comes to dealing with stress and its effects, will be an additional incentive to learn in the flow of work. 

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Another crucial aspect of this method involves the opinions of leaders – including the informal leaders. Influential leaders know that a thirst for knowledge can be huge, as they themselves have been successful thanks to constant learning and development. Thanks to this, they are usually open to innovation in the field of L&D. They know the values of microlearning, so they easily decide to adopt a modern approach to learning and to invest in employee development. 

Why is learning the flow of work so important in the world of remote and hybrid work?

The pandemic has probably changed the way people work and learn around the world irreversibly. Since travel is impeded, there are no conferences, panel discussions, workshops, or on-site trainings. Paradoxically, even though so much time is saved when people don’t need to travel to work, meet their clients, or perform other business tasks, work takes even more time than before. People become totally immersed in their online work, stopping only to look up some necessary information or to take a short break and scroll down their favorite social media. 

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This is exactly where Josh Bersin’s method can be applied. The forms of learning which cannot be used due to the current restrictions can be replaced by learning in the workflow. Microlearning – short and concise shots of knowledge, adjusted to the roles and goals of the learner – is a great method for busy people who need to do a lot of things at once. This method is changing people and organizations right now. It has become urgent and indispensable to provide employees with access to online educational platforms that offer knowledge that is helpful in solving daily problems and broadening one’s horizons. 

Small and inspiring portions of knowledge are also a kind of antidote to Zoom fatigue and cognitive overload experienced by a number of employees these days. Information overload and difficulties with information filtering coupled with the lack of personal contact with colleagues are serious threats to mental health. Hence, the quality, time, and manner of learning are crucial. 

Employers must be aware that values, development, safety, and good prospects for the future are vital for employees and candidates. Most of those surveyed around the world say that development – which entails learning – is the crucial quality that may encourage them to stay at a company longer. This is why modern companies managed by conscious leaders give a high priority to innovation in work organization and knowledge transfer.

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