Corporate Learning Changes Dramatically

Employees and young workers, used to “googling” any problem they want to solve, no longer want to sit through long, formal online programs unless they are very entertaining. Today, in fact, according to Basex research published in May 2009, 28 percent of all employee work is wasted by people multi-tasking among e-mail, Google and various other forms of “informal learning.” The same research also found that the average employee visits 45 Websites every day.

“This pattern of behavior (and availability of technology), of course, has been further enhanced by the availability of social networking,” says Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin & Associates.

“Today’s employee has access to formal training, overwhelming amounts of other information, and actual human beings online. Adding this all together, the corporate learning landscape has undergone a dramatic change. Now, when someone needs to ‘learn’ something, we must consider the various ways they can gain these skills or information: they can go to a class, they can take an online course, they can look up support information on the Web, they can read a book, or they can find someone who knows what to do and get help. And we, as L&D professionals, must formalize this informal learning environment and make sure we align our investments toward talent management and the needs to build deep levels of skill.”

This shift has created tremendous challenges for the corporate training department. Bersin’s research shows that 68 percent of knowledge workers now feel that their biggest learning problem is an “overwhelming volume of information.” This information exists in many formats, it is often out of date, and they are not sure how to find what they need. In some sense the need for “formal” training is greater than ever (you can make sure you get the right information presented in the right way).

‘Yet, in fact,” Bersin says, “now corporate training professionals must grapple with a whole new set of issues: How do I create a complete learning environment — not a learning program — that supports this new world of formal and informal learning?”

Employees and young workers, used to “googling” any problem they want to solve, no longer want to sit through long, formal online programs unless they are very entertaining. Today, in fact, according to Basex research published in May 2009, 28 percent of all employee work is wasted by people multi-tasking among e-mail, Google and various other forms of “informal learning.” The same research also found that the average employee visits 45 Websites every day.

“This pattern of behavior (and availability of technology), of course, has been further enhanced by the availability of social networking,” says Josh Bersin, president and CEO of Bersin & Associates.

“Today’s employee has access to formal training, overwhelming amounts of other information, and actual human beings online. Adding this all together, the corporate learning landscape has undergone a dramatic change. Now, when someone needs to ‘learn’ something, we must consider the various ways they can gain these skills or information: they can go to a class, they can take an online course, they can look up support information on the Web, they can read a book, or they can find someone who knows what to do and get help. And we, as L&D professionals, must formalize this informal learning environment and make sure we align our investments toward talent management and the needs to build deep levels of skill.”

This shift has created tremendous challenges for the corporate training department. Bersin’s research shows that 68 percent of knowledge workers now feel that their biggest learning problem is an “overwhelming volume of information.” This information exists in many formats, it is often out of date, and they are not sure how to find what they need. In some sense the need for “formal” training is greater than ever (you can make sure you get the right information presented in the right way).

‘Yet, in fact,” Bersin says, “now corporate training professionals must grapple with a whole new set of issues: How do I create a complete learning environment — not a learning program — that supports this new world of formal and informal learning?”

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