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Knowledge. Your employees depend on it. Your business can’t thrive without it. But what do you do when that brain power walks out your office doors—for good?

Believe it or not, businesses everywhere risk losing critical business-related expertise every day. Whether retiring or resigning, every lost employee is critical information that’s difficult—if not, impossible—to regain.

Something has to change. You need to store that knowledge before it walks out your office doors forever. Easier said than done, right?

Preparing employees for the future doesn’t have to be tricky

To accommodate the new dynamic of the 21st-century workforce, companies are supplementing traditional classroom training with a tapestry of easy-to-use content and delivery. As a result, a business culture that values and encourages life-long learning is born. By integrating active learning into daily work practices, corporate learning fosters a culture for employees to continuously grow their skill sets with ease and on their own terms.

Although this sounds like an ideal way to support corporate learning, some executives are apprehensive about moving away from a structured classroom model. By shifting the balance of power to employees, there’s doubt that anyone will use learning content and tools. And there’s even fear that inappropriate, irrelevant, and inaccurate content will be created.

Here are three ways corporate learning can show the true value of a next-generation approach:

1.  Appreciate varying learning mentalities

With five generations in the workforce, corporate learning is faced with accommodating different learning styles and expectations. Some “students” prefer a classroom setting, others work best using social platforms and mobile gamification, and another group may desire a hybrid of those two approaches.

Although these differences may seem like an insurmountable barrier, they’re really an opportunity to tie familiar, formal learning to informal, social spaces. Classroom instruction can be extended by creating a virtual community that connects “students” with each other, subject-matter experts, and additional resources and tools. This hybrid approach helps ensure that learners apply new knowledge to their work as soon as possible. And better yet, everyone involved in the learning process can feel more empowered, engaged, and self-gratified because they’re receiving the support they need to perform at their best level possible.

2.  Respect and reward the contributions of your subject-matter experts

When experts create user-generated content, they play a key role in the future of corporate learning. Experts don’t need a broadcaster’s voice and charisma. Nor do they have to be a certified Microsoft Office specialist. With access to various methods and tools for creating and delivering content, experts can share knowledge in a manner that’s comfortable for them.

The latest technology can help corporate learning ensure the content integrity. Self-regulating features that resemble those of our favorite social networks attach the content provider’s name and face to every comment and deliverable posted. In addition, corporate learning professionals can obtain administrative access to tools to monitor interactions.

3.  Measure your employee-centricity learning programs

Analyzing the effectiveness of your program is no longer as easy as collecting “smile” sheets. Instead, hard data is required to show executives that corporate learning is significantly impacting the bottom line, such as:

    • Change in performance levels. When “students” access information quickly when they need it, they become more capable of performing their job at a level that meets—or even exceeds—expectations.
    • Rate of e-mail traffic. When you see a decrease in e-mail communication while performance and business results improve, it’s most likely because employees are spending less time gathering data and focusing on strategic activities more often.
    • Speed of completing job duties and requests. Enabling a connected and collaborative environment provides users with way to reach out to experts and get answers much faster.  When users build content, others can find it, learn from it, ask questions about it, and get answers faster than ever before.

4.  Enhance your processes—don’t reinvent them

The key to upgrading your corporate learning program to address current workforce needs is to resist the desire to revamp the whole program. Instead, identify problems in the program and wrap new solutions around it.

With a blended approach, corporate learning can mix and match the best features of the program to fit business needs. As a result, the current learning model becomes more efficient, engaging, and impactful.

There’s no handbook for the future of business. But, there’s one truth that is obvious to all of us—your workforce talent is the engine that drives future business success. If you take the time to develop them in ways that they learn best, they’ll bring their A-game every time.

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  1. Jo Coulson

    Excellent article.  And the best advice you gave is to resist revamping the whole program.  One item I would add — and it is one I often see with our clients at SweetRush — is that creating an environment of shared knowledge creates a more engaged and committed workforce.   Jo Coulson, SweetRush

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