4 Reasons to Embrace Self-Driven Learning in Your Organization

Emily Manley

Product Marketing: Rework

Whether you subscribe to the 70:20:10 model, are a huge proponent of offsite learning or think the humble classroom is the best learning environment, we can all agree on one thing: Learning at work just isn't what it used to be. I chalk this up to two things:

The pace of change in the business world is faster than it's ever been

Access to information is at an all-time high

So what can learning departments do in order to work within this new environment? How can we give people the knowledge they need when that knowledge might be outdated by the time it reaches them? And will they even look to learning departments for that knowledge when they have such free access to whatever they need to learn?

The good news is that we aren't suggesting that learning departments are going extinct. Far from it. But we are looking at a paradigm shift in the idea of developing talent. Instead of the traditional idea of providing learning opportunities to employees, leading organizations are more and more often emphasizing self-driven learning.

In these frameworks, employees are allowed, nay, encouraged to go out and seek the knowledge they need to be their most productive selves. Employees can seek out this knowledge anywhere. Podcasts, videos, articles, MOOCs, or even modules in a well-stocked LMS sourced from a content vendor or created in-house make for great learning opportunities that employees can seek out on-demand and at the time of need. And it doesn't stop at content either. Employees can seek out this new knowledge from internal subject matter experts, peers and teams.

The role of the learning department shifts as well. Instead of prescribing specific learning to employees, they instead curate learning content and help to direct learning around particular objectives linked to organizational, departmental and individual goals.

This may all sound great to you, or it might not. But I'm here to let you know that this way of delivering and facilitating learning has some huge benefits. Here are four reasons you should let your employees be self-driven learners.

Save time and resources

Self-driven employee learning strategies save the HR and learning teams time and resources. One of the biggest burdens placed on learning teams is content creation. But self-driven learning programs rely drastically less on in-house created content and instead pull from a wide variety of sources. Learners can pull from third-party content vendors, learn from their peers and internal SMEs, and even outside the LMS by searching across the web. By removing the burden of creating a huge library of learning content for employees, learning teams can instead focus on developing great L&D strategies, content curation and tracking results.

Also, with the right tools, content curation can also be crowdsourced from individuals and managers across the organization as well!

Learning is more relevant and personalized

Self-driven learning also offers the benefit of being more personal. When a learning team imparts learning content to an entire team, department or organization, those people may not all need those new skills (or at least, not at that particular moment). It's a catch-all situation that can be disengaging and, frankly, time-wasting.

It's also important to mention that employees and their managers will have a better handle on what new skills are needed than the learning team. A marketing manager will have a better idea of what skills to focus on not only because they work in the field, but they have a closer relationship to that department's current strategy and goals and can tailor learning goals as such.

When employees are able to seek out information specific to them and at their specific time of need, they can better tailor their learning experience to their current role, performance goals and even future career aspirations.

Fun Fact: 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace, and 49% of employees prefer to learn at the point of need, according to the LinkedIn 2018 Learning Trends Report .

Learning is more motivating and enjoyable

When L&D is driven by the employee, their attitude changes from "I have to do this" to "I want to do this." And by making rewards and recognition a part of that experience, working with content partners that create high-quality content, offering training that earns learners accreditations and certifications, employee learning becomes much more rewarding and engaging. It's all about making sure the employee has the right reasons and is motivated to learn.

Plus, we all have different content preferences. Some employees are speed readers while others may find video to be more engaging. Letting employees seek out new information allows them to find it in the way that they enjoy consuming it, which can also help with retaining that information!

Self-driven learning drives better business outcomes

This is the point you want for when you want to sell your executive team on self-driven employee learning. In self-driven learning systems, employees have a purpose behind their learning efforts and can leverage it to drive their performance, develop skills and grow in their careers. In fact, IDC reported that organizations that align learning programs to business strategy see a 32% greater average improvement in employee performance and 38% average improvement in employee productivity.

Employees that are able to make the connection between their goals and the learning they should take to help achieve those goals. When employees are taking learning that's going to help them perform better and achieve their goals, the L&D department moves from being a cost center to a profit center.

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