What is the #1 obstacle to workplace learning?
According to aggregated research compiled by LinkedIn during 2020, the biggest obstacle to engaging in workplace learning among employees is, unsurprisingly, lack of time. Their review of industry surveys highlighted that 49% of learners said that they don’t have enough time to learn at work, yet 94% said that they could see the career benefits of making the time to learn. Clearly the intent is there, how can L&D help them free up time to learn?
We already know that most workplace learning takes place online - whether it’s through videos, articles, podcasts or online courses. The great thing is that all this content can be consumed in a few minutes at any time. It doesn't require travelling to course locations or taking a day off.
If learning is so easy, why do people lack time to learn in the workplace? In a very recent survey to our own customers’ employees, we asked: How much time do you want to invest in learning per week? The average answer was “between 30 to 60 minutes”. We then asked how much time they actually spent learning. Their answer was “between 0 and 30 minutes”.
The reason why this happens is well known. Most people are constantly receiving emails, notifications, requests, which then become prioritised over less time critical (but no less important) personal development activities, like self-development or learning new skills.
So how can L&D inspire more learning at work?
Here are 4 easy ways to develop the highly sought after ‘learning culture’ and encourage more learning in your organisations. All these suggestions are cost-effective, simple to implement, and their impact is very easy to measure.
Encourage employees to block out learning time in their diaries
Most learning requires time, intention, concentration and reflection. It’s an activity that requires mental and physical space and disconnection from other activities. The best way to ensure we reserve time and space for learning: Blocking “learning time” in the agenda and committing to that time, the same way people block time in their agenda to go to the gym or any other activity that requires focus.
Get the managers on board
Research shows that getting managers more involved in learning and development greatly influences whether employees also make time to learn. Another Linked In report found that 54% of employees said they would spend more time learning if their manager directed them to a specific training goal or suggested ways to improve their skills. This means that the easiest way to get employees to spend more time learning is to get their managers involved.
Remind people about the company’s learning resources
People tend to forget about the resources at their fingertips, so remind them. Email is the most efficient way for employees to discover the breadth of learning resources made available by their organisations. Our own research found that 80% of Learninghubz users want to receive a weekly newsletter from their L&D team, with content recommendations and what’s new. It’s a trigger to action - quick to read and with a simple click the content is accessible.
Ask for feedback and keep improving
The most successful L&D departments are the ones that treat their employees like valued customers. Try to launch a quick survey 2 or 3 months after a new campaign starts and get feedback on these 4 areas – like blocking time in agendas, level of manager support, weekly newsletter reminders and suggestions for improvement. Use this feedback to inform your next activities and show you are doing so.
Quick recap: 4 simple steps to support more and better learning at work
- Invite employees to block out learning time in their weekly calendar
- Encourage managers to motivate employees to dedicate that time for self-learning and to recommend articles, videos, courses to their team members
- Remind people regularly (e.g. in the weekly newsletter) about the learning resources the company has available and also suggest curated learning resources for employee development
- Conduct quarterly surveys to monitor L&D’s impact and effectiveness.