What does the 6th annual Learning in the Workplace Survey say about the state – as well as the future – of L&D?

This year in the 6th Annual Learning in the Workplace survey, I asked respondents to rate the importance (value/usefulness) – of the following 12 ways of learning for, at or through work.

  • Classroom training
  • e-Learning (e.g. online courses for self-study)
  • Internal resources (documents, guides etc.,)
  • Knowledge sharing within your team
  • Daily work experiences (i.e. doing the day job)
  • Manager feedback and guidance
  • Coach or mentor feedback and guidance
  • Professional networks and communities
  • Conferences and professional events
  • Blogs and news feeds
  • Web resources (e.g. videos, podcasts, articles)
  • Web search (e.g. Google).

The results from over 5,000* people worldwide make for interesting reading. In the table below they are ranked by their combined  VI+Ess   scores.  The  red  figures  are where the most responses were received in each category.
(NI = Not important, QI=Quite Important, VI=Very Important, Ess=Essential)

Rank Results of the 6th Learning in the Workplace survey
(as at Tuesday 8 August 2017)
NI
%
QI
%
VI
%
Ess
%
VI+Ess
%
 1 Daily work experiences (ie doing the day job)  1  6 26  67 93
 2 Knowledge sharing within your team  1  9 30  60 90
 3 Web search (eg Google) 5 16 27 52 79
 4 Web resources (eg videos, podcasts, articles) 4 20 37 39 76
5 Manager feedback and guidance 7 19 39 35 74
 6 Professional networks and communities 4 24 41 31 72
7 Coach or mentor feedback and guidance 7 28 43 22 65
8 Internal resources (eg documents, guides, etc) 8 32 35 25 60
9 Blogs and news feeds 10 34 33 23 56
10 E-Learning (eg online courses for self-study) 20 39 25 16 41
 11 Conferences and other professional events 17 48 32 3 35
 12 Classroom training 28 41 19 12 31

The most interesting thing to note about these results is that the 4 most valued ways of learning – Daily work experiences, Knowledge sharing with teamsWeb search and the use of Web resources are all self-organised and self-managed “non-designed” forms of learning, whilst “designed” and “organised” forms of learning like Classroom training and E-Learning – both of which L&D traditionally has focused on – are the least valued ways of learning in the workplace.

All this seems to point to the fact that there needs to be some changes to the work that L&D does in order to offer a service that is more valued in the business.

Whilst some L&D teams are putting in great efforts to modernise their “designed” learning efforts – in order to make them more relevant for today’s people – this will not be enough. There is now enormous potential to support the other ways of learning in the organisation.

But that doesn’t mean putting in place some new enterprise learning platform and trying to capture and manage all the “learning” thats happening outside formal learning initiatives – an impossible task anyway. It doesn’t mean DOING more things TO people.

  1. It means enabling and supporting individuals to DO more FOR THEMSELVES – by helping them to
    • get more out of their daily work
    • to organise and manage their own continuous learning (i.e. self-improvement and self-development) both inside and outside the organisation – rather than simply spoon-feeding them stuff. This which will include helping them to
      • grow their professional networks
      • keep up to date with their industry or profession
      • learn something new every day
  2. It also means working with managers to help them take a more active part in the growth of their people.

But all that requires a brand new L&D mindset, new L&D role(s), and new L&D skills, as I showed in The Case for the new Role of a Modern Learning Advisor.

Those L&D departments that offer new services that are of real value to the business are more likely not just to survive but to thrive in the modern workplace,

What do you think these results mean for the future of L&D? Comments are open below.

Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about helping your L&D department modernise their activities, take a look at our online workshops.

*Breakdown of demographics

  • Countries: From 63 countries around the world, including USA 25%, UK 25%, Australia 9%, Canada 7%, New Zealand 6%, Germany 5%, Netherlands 3%
  • Industries: Education 25%,Financial Services 10%, Government 9%, Healthcare 6%, Technology 6%
  • Organisation size: 250+ people 66%,
  • Function: HR/L&D 59%, IT 5%, Marketing 4%
  • Job type: Non-managerial 39%, Senior manager 22%,  Middle manager 18%, Line manager 10%, Other 10%
    • Age: 41-50 36%, 51-60 25%, 31-40 24%, <30 6%,  >60 6%
  • Sex: Female 62%, Male 38%
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Jane Hart

Jane Hart is the Director of the Centre for Modern Workplace Learning, which she set up to help organisations and learning professionals modernise their approaches to workplace learning - through public workshops, private company sessions and/or bespoke consultancy. She is the Editor of the Modern Workplace Learning Magazine, and is the author of a number of books including, Learning in the Modern Workplace 2017. You can contact Jane at editor@ModernWorkplaceLearning.com.

11 Replies to “What does the 6th annual Learning in the Workplace Survey say about the state – as well as the future – of L&D?”

  1. Thanks, Jane. Great to have some data for what feels true, but is hard to prove given the blinkered approach often applied within L&D, or more commonly, the blinkered approach by those demanding services from L&D.
    Cheers, Paul

    1. Thanks Jane. Since I invited staff to do the survey I should share the results so will post the link to the report on our intranet tomorrow and invite people to share their thoughts with me as well as reply here.

      I am still trying to reconcile how we can apply these results to training for a new business system given that it will have a set Go Live day (big bang, whole business) and the system will be in development prior. Given that customer-facing staff will have to be reasonably competent in using the system on day one it is hard to see how they can get to this stage by “doing their job” before Go Live. One idea is to see if there is a way they can duplicate their responses to real calls but in the training environment for the new system. Operationally this could be a near impossible challenge but it should be explored. They would of course need some instruction prior to having this practice time. We otherwise just take real clients and real but historic scenarios and use these as the basis for the exercises. Systems training from my experience has a unique set of challenges!

      1. Hey Helen, that is a very important thought and I am sure the Survey results will not hold true for a scenario involving a Go Live day. When an organization is migrating to a new enterprise-wide application or even for a departmental-level application, the workforce will definitely require extensive training to handle the D-day jitters. You just can’t expect them to self learn the procedures and workflows. In such cases, blended learning interventions involving classroom trainings, application-based demos, and other such material goes a long way in making the workforce comfortable with the environment.

  2. It would be interesting to know if there was a difference in responses among different countries, industries and gender. Are you able to provide further breakdowns of the responses?

    1. Andrea, I did some analysis on the results last year – there was not much significant difference across industries, ages or genders. However, there was some differences across countries, which suggested a cultural difference in how they viewed e-learning and classroom training. I will do some more analysis on this year’s results and write it up.

  3. Jane, thanks for doing this study and reporting the results. This will be very useful in my consulting with “L&D” folks. I would add that the survey confirms for me that training and learning professionals need to engage the entire organization in learning. If learning comes from daily work experiences, knowledge sharing within and among teams, and from the support of managers and leaders, then L&D professionals need to help facilitate all of these elements in a very intentional way. Not left to chance. And companies need to invest less time, effort, and money in formal training programs and put more into all of the other ways that people learn in organizations.

  4. Hello Jane,

    First thanks for the surveys you have done, the results are always interesting and informative.

    This survey was a tremendous validation of the research and conclusions Steve Gill and I write about in our forthcoming ATD Press book” Minds at Work”. The companies we studied that are leading the way are not just making some changes to the work that L&D does. They have dramatically changed the way people are managed and learn in order to help their company succeed in the Knowledge Economy. The result is an entirely new type of organization that is forward-looking and responsive to needs of the 21st century instead of being stuck in the management and learning solutions of the past.

    These new organizations profoundly realize that now and into the future we produce work with our minds, and our focus must be on how to manage those minds to be as brilliant as possible. These companies have created workplaces in which those minds can flourish and realize their greatest potential. The answer is not more of what you have always been doing, but an entirely new approach that is proving to be successful in every measurable way.

    This new approach to managing minds includes the four most valued ways learning uncovered in the survey. It also demonstrates a major shift in the way everyone in the company focuses on learning. For example, Senior Management consistently enables and empowers learning at the individual, team, and whole organization levels; technology provides just-in-time anywhere and anytime continuous learning throughout the company; and an open and collaborative culture makes learning part of everything the company does.

    Thanks again for the work behind the survey, it was satisfying to find out we were spot on in our assumptions and observations.

  5. Hello Jane,

    Thanks for providing a simple and uncomplicated picture to the otherwise much complex results that you must have got during the Survey. These are definitely some great points to ponder upon and throw immense light on the way forward for Learning and Design professionals (like me). 🙂

    Although it has been long suspected that classroom training is a distant choice for many, but still it’s surprising to see it there at the bottom. I would have probably liked it a little higher than that, especially with the kind of audience engagement and scope of doubt clarification opportunities it brings with it. Nevertheless, the results surely show that nos. 1-4 (which I would broadly consider as micro learnings) as the future of learning!

  6. As a trainer I am interested that E-Learning and Classroom based learning were low on this list. I think as Sachin Nandwani has already pointed out, so much of this is situational and the best learning vehicle depends very much on what one is trying to learn. People naturally think they learn best on the job, and from their peers as this is very specific to their role and just-in-time learning, so they feel the learning has a higher impact. In my opinion this causes cognitive distortion where the learner then believes this is the best way to learn. This article begs the question, “what is the best way to learn?”, and the answer to that is always going to be, “it depends what your learning”. Based on research, we don’t really need a L&D department, we only need Google and a few of our peers. Clearly that is not the case.

    1. In which case, I would suggest that this survey shows that people don’t actually value WHAT they are being taught as well as HOW it is being learned in e-learning or the classroom. This is often due to the fact they see no purpose in it, as Elon Musk says https://t.co/wsYBWQd60B. But my main point here is that the learning that IS valued, is the “non-designed” learning – and this is currently not supported by L&D in any meaningful way. But the future isn’t about trying to organise or manage it – but help people do things for themselves. That way everyone benefits (organisation and individual).

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