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How Workplace Learning Has Changed in Recent Years

Posted on July 17, 2017 By Jake White

Deloitte Human Capital Trends' newest research shows that "reinventing careers and learning" is now the #2 issue in business (followed only by reorganizing the company for digital business), creating urgency and budget in this area. 83% of companies (more than 10,000 respondents) told us this is important and 54% said the problem is urgent ( Workplace learning has undergone a metamorphosis driven by increasingly easy-to-use online tools. However, the development and implementation of these tools were just the beginning of a grander journey to a more effective decentralized learning method. Here, we’ll take a look at how we’re rapidly approaching this new form of learning by looking back at how we got here.


Traditional Classroom Learning

Traditional classroom learning was (and often still is) the starting point at which learning is the most centralized. Workplace learning is controlled, curated, and distributed by a department in the company, either a training department set aside for the task or human resources.


On its face, it appears attractive because the employer has more control over the distribution of learning, and it is the most formal form of learning on this list. However, this teaching method is not sufficient or fast enough to keep a large workforce competitive in today’s market. It requires a lot of time from both the employees distributing the learning and the employees receiving it. The information is presented in a way that makes it tedious and difficult to retain.


Early Online Learning

The advent of online learning tools like eLearning courses and LMSs gave employers some great benefits that made eLearning less expensive, less time consuming, and more convenient for employees. Work can now be done on the employee’s terms and at his or her desk, and a single system for distributing training makes it easier than ever to train with consistency.


However, in its early days eLearning was still not being used to its full potential, and training curriculums still looked pretty similar to the way they did when traditional methods were used. The availability of powerful online learning tools did pave the way for less centralized learning, however, as it put the power to take control of workplace learning in the employee’s hands.


Mixed Learning

After online learning tools had opened the gate for less structured learning, companies began to adopt a system that’s a combination of traditional and new learning methods. This method includes things like trainers and coursework but also started to incorporate more employee-driven learning like social learning. At this point, companies were (and many still are) primarily using a top-down strategy for employee training.


Fully Integrated Learning

Many companies are starting to adopt an integrated learning approach that ultimately turns the traditional workplace learning system on its head. Instead of a formal top-down system, this modern workplace learning technique puts the responsibility for self-improvement in the hands of individuals. Employees are encouraged to manage their learning and work together to come up with innovative solutions for day to day problems. Informal learning allows for learning to happen anywhere, and employees can glean a lot of good knowledge from their daily tasks.


Employees that are self-managed can develop learning solutions that work for their particular circumstances and can keep up with changing challenges in the workplace. They are motivated not just by success in their current position, but by bettering themselves for their future careers and lives. In a modern work environment, leaders don’t so much manage employees as they do coach them towards becoming more independent. This type of corporate learning is ideal for the modern workplace, and positions corporations to be more competitive in their markets.