Implement Learning in the Flow of Work Without Missing a Beat
What are the top employee training challenges your company faces?
Perhaps your employees struggle to find time to train, you're not getting a great ROI on your current training program, or the training isn't practical enough.
Solve all of these issues by implementing learning in the flow of work.
Learn more about this innovative training style, its benefits, and how to adopt it. Discover examples of learning in the flow of work and concrete implementations.
💪 What is learning in the flow of work? A new paradigm for corporate training
First up, what is learning in the flow of work? Josh Bersin introduced this learning ecosystem in 2018 as part of his Keynote Presentation for LinkedIn Talent Connect.
In a nutshell: this type of learning happens during your regular work rather than as a separate training program that disturbs your workflow to teach you something.
You might have heard of other learning trends such as microlearning or on-the-job training — these are examples of learning in the flow of work that prioritizes L&D rather than treating it as an afterthought.
The idea is that flow training is a welcome alternative to formal training. Traditionally happening outside of day-to-day work, often in a classroom environment, formal training is far removed from the realities of an employee's work.
There are multiple challenges with traditional formal learning, including:
- Lack of time to commit;
- Lack of learning engagement;
- Training doesn't achieve learning outcomes.
The most staggering research reveals that only 10% of the US $200 billion annual corporate training bill delivers the results that leaders want. And the rest?
Training effectiveness metrics suggest it's money down the drain as employees struggle to apply the information gained from their training or lose the knowledge completely due to a lack of context.
🧠 How does learning in the flow of work happen?
In the flow of work learning is about capturing an employee's attention where it already lies, rather than trying to distract. If your employee prefers to communicate in a Slack channel, that's where you should distribute your informal learning materials. Alternatively, if you know your employees engage well with interactive quizzes, create those resources to dip into as part of their workday. Here's a list of flow work learning types you can use:
- Email drip campaigns;
- In-app notifications;
- Microsoft Teams or Slack nudges;
- Pop-up microlearning content;
- Integrated learning tools;
- Multiple choice quizzes;
- Social network threads.
Tip: Use these learning types in isolation or as part of a blend, depending on your organization's needs. The key is to make the learning process as unobtrusive and convenient as possible for employees. In this way, they're more likely to engage.
📈 How effective is learning in the flow of work?
Instead of learning a topic once as part of a course (and then quickly forgetting it), the beauty of learning in the flow of work is that it ties in nicely with retrieval practice.
The main idea is that regularly repeating a topic leads to retrieving that knowledge repeatedly.
As you can see, practice and retrieval learning yields a 146% increase in technical material retention compared to basic study.
Alessandro Giacobbe, GM Enterprise Learning at Microsoft, echoes similar results.
"When we poll employees (whether it is our company or other companies) and we ask them about a month after they've taken a training class, "how much do you remember of that training class?" the amount of information that gets lost is a lot. So, why can't we make training more engaging? Why can't we make it so that it is in the flow of work?"
🧑💼 How about the employees? Do learners want to learn in the flow of work?
The LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report of 2022 names "Opportunities to learn and grow" as the no.1 driver of great workplace culture.
To put things in perspective, this is up from no. 9 in 2019 before the pandemic. It's never been clearer that employees prioritize their career growth and expect their employer to provide the resources and development opportunities to upskill in the flow of work.
Employers who commit to this request are rewarded with:
- Improved employee morale;
- Fewer incidences of burnout;
- Employees experiencing greater job satisfaction;
- Higher retention rates;
- Maximized productivity.
As Josh Bersin puts it: "Skills are an internal form of currency in the business of getting ahead."
He also confirms that employees who learn at work are 47% less likely to be stressed and 39% more likely to feel productive and successful than those who don't.
So, you must prioritize employee learning and development as a daily part of your employees' work routines rather than an annual event.
It will soon become clear that providing learning opportunities is a powerful retention strategy.
Your employees feel supported in their roles and excited about the prospects of continuous learning and growth within your company.
➡️ Struggling with retaining your best employees? Check out 25 best practices and actionable insights for keeping your best employees.
🔍 5 Strategies to adopt learning in the flow of work in your company
Follow these best practices to embed learning in the flow of work seamlessly in your training culture without missing a beat.
1. Ensure corporate knowledge systems are digestible
Flow learning will only be as effective as the technology supporting it. Make sure your corporate knowledge systems are accurate and easy to use.
Tip: Consider repurposing existing training materials into snackable chunks of learning and proactively gathering employee feedback about how they find your training tools.
2. Share online content internally
If you know your employees engage well in peer learning, sharing digital content internally across departments ensures everyone has access to the same high-quality training.
3. Create a shared learning environment
Set up a communication channel (for example, Slack or similar) where employees can come together to discuss what they're learning and raise thought-provoking questions.
Tip: Allow employees to share insights and ideas and help create a learning culture within your company.
4. Know when to lean on formal training
Microlearning or any flow training program shouldn't take over from more structured learning. There will always be a time and place for this type of learning, such as when you need to learn an entire set of technical skills or transition from job to job.
For best results, use a blended approach such as the 70-20-10 model we use here at Zavvy. This rule is:
- 70% of our training comes from on-the-job learning
- 20% comes through feedback delivered by peers and mentors
- 10% comes from traditional learning, also known as macro learning, such as attending a course.
Tip: Once seasoned learners have completed a formal course, switch the topic into their microlearning content to be frequently revisited and recalled as they commit the information to memory.
5. Devise a way to measure progress
So long as an employer provides the necessary training resources, the onus should be on the employee to own their impact. Encourage this by creating customized development plans and providing role cards so employees understand their role expectations and the training they need to complete to achieve them.
L&D leaders can stay on top of training scheduling and progress by following a training matrix. This gives an overview of all the training programs people are committed to across the company.
🏢 5 Examples of learning in the flow of work
Learning in the flow of work fits in perfectly with the following use cases:
1. Sales Training
Sales teams are constantly on the go and often on the road, so getting them into a training classroom can be challenging. Microlearning is an excellent way for sales teams to stay refreshed about product information and features without searching through a lengthy product manual. Scenario-based videos also create immersive experiences for sales reps, helping to demonstrate possible outcomes based on sales interactions.
2. Internal Reporting
Organizations that use data to drive their business can use microlearning modules to train employees on using specific internal reporting tools.
Ensure that employees have the skills to use the data effectively and make better business decisions.
3. Health and Safety Systems
Health and safety are important to any organization, and employees must know how to use health and safety systems. Microlearning can educate employees about specific health and safety procedures, such as how to use personal protective equipment (PPE).
For example, US retail giant Bloomingdale's uses microlearning chunks of 3-5 minutes per day to cover topics like how to clear up broken glass safely and how to use ladders without causing an accident.
4. Quality Assurance
Organizations focused on quality assurance can use microlearning to train employees on specific quality assurance procedures. You could include anything from how to properly inspect products to how to use in-house quality assurance tools.
Organizations must comply with specific regulations, such as health and safety regulations, data protection laws, and anti-corruption laws. There's a wealth of information to stay on top of, which changes frequently. Learning in the flow of work ensures employees digest these regulations and understand the implications of non-compliance.
💡 7 tips for integrating learning into your employees' daily workflows
Know how to incorporate learning into your employees' busy schedules, so it complements their work rather than adds unnecessarily to it.
1. Create a culture of learning and feedback
Companies must give employees time to invest in learning and reward them for acquiring skills.
Learning and feedback should be interwoven into company culture, always considered a part of everyday life, rather than an optional clunky add-on.
Tip: Encourage employees to discuss what they're learning with their colleagues. This could be in a dedicated Slack channel, on a virtual coffee morning, or even in the kitchen at lunchtime.
➡️ Check out more learning culture examples.
2. Experiment with multiple learning formats
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to flow learning, so test out various learning materials, including (but not limited to) videos, gamification, in-app nudges, and podcasts.
And don't forget the social element.
Microlearning can often be delivered asynchronously, but that doesn't mean it has to be a solo activity. In fact, social learning can be a powerful way to embed new knowledge and skills.
3. Listen to employee needs and challenges
Ask for regular feedback from your workforce, so you know what's working and isn't. Remember, you've invested your company budget in learning and development, so why not get the most out of it?
Suppose your employees aren't getting involved in training delivered as part of an email series. Why not try Slack notifications instead so you can meet your employees in a more suitable place?
4. Build in time for reflection
From a company-wide perspective, reflect on whether training works well across your teams. Track metrics and learning outcomes, including course participation and completion, to understand how engaged your employees are.
Use development check-ins to allow employees to reflect on their training progress and set their own goals.
Tip: A 70-20-10 development plan can combine learning in the flow of work with macro learning, and social learning – each of these areas can be defined and adjusted on a personal level.
Remember: goals change, and that's ok. Our careers are jungle gyms rather than career ladders, so flexibility is part of our growth.
5. Assign tasks that sufficiently challenge employees
Training should get the brain ticking without being overwhelming. Even short training sessions should be mentally stimulating, but be mindful of the breadth of learning activities you offer.
Tip: Too much choice can lead to analysis paralysis, so don't overwhelm your employees with an excess of learning options.
If the volume of information constantly stresses them, they won't have time to process and retain anything long-term.
6. Fire up your employees with gamification
Ever noticed how competitive your employees are? Put that spirit to good use by bringing gamification into your learning mix. Games are intrinsically motivating, so it's no wonder that gamification is one of the most popular methods for delivering flow learning. You can turn learning into a fun and engaging activity using game-like elements such as badges, points, and leaderboards.
7. Lead by example
When approached in the right way, training can be an opportunity to improve job satisfaction, skill development, and knowledge retention.
Tip: If you want your employees to actively learn and improve, you need to walk the talk. Model the behavior you want from your workforce – set an example and be a role model for learning in the flow of work.
➡️ Discover how Freeletics is building the next generation of leaders with Zavvy
Business leaders at Freeletics (a fitness app and AI coach) had long struggled to find time for regular leadership training and people development. And when they did find the time, business as usual quickly kicked back in following training, with knowledge lost shortly after.
Freeletics transformed its approach to L&D by creating a blended learning program developed by Zavvy. Our team helped Freeletics to choose three programs that coexist in perfect harmony with each other:
- Microlearning - weekly chunks of relevant learning content
- Leadership onboarding - an in-depth program helping every new leader get up to speed on important processes, principles, and resources.
- People manager roundtable - peers share leadership challenges and best practices with like-minded business professionals in a structured group-based setting.
➡️ Learn more about how Zavvy's learning experience team supports Freeletics.
⚙️ Tools and technologies facilitating and enhancing learning in the flow of work
The best tools in the learning space fit in seamlessly with existing workflows and processes. Here are some of our favorites:
- Zavvy offers innovative training for managers and employees based on a range of innovative scientific approaches to L&D. From leadership training and just-in-time guidance to behavioral training, including microlearning and spaced repetition, your company can benefit from accessible learning in a digestible format.
➡️ Explore our training templates gallery. You'll access real Zavvy journeys made by our learning designers, customers, and other forward-thinking companies.
- Corporate knowledge systems are libraries filled with glossaries, videos, product demonstrations, and more. They increase employee productivity by making it easier to find relevant content. Add training content to your company's existing knowledge system for a streamlined learning experience.
- Slack channels are the obvious choice if your employees already spend half their day in them. Don't make them click around other programs to access their training; simply push notifications out to specific channels and remind employees to click a link to progress their development goals.
- Asana boards are a convenient place to attach training content to tasks and have employees check them off at completion. Many Asana users are motivated by on-screen celebrations, such as unicorns flying across the screen, which works wonders for training engagement.
- Loom videos are perfect for asynchronous learners. Send short, engaging video content to your team, and let them view it in their own time.
- Learning management systems should offer a breadth of engaging content that makes it easy to assign and track employee development. Look for an LMS that provides content in formats such as video, audio, text, and interactive quizzes.
➡️ Make learning a part of everyday work with Zavvy
If your current training program isn't working for you, it might be time to join the likes of Google, Walmart, and Cisco and opt for an L&D facelift. Zavvy can help you deliver learning experiences that are personalized, engaging, and effective.
Learn more about our training solutions by arranging a demo with our learning experience team.