Blog Post

Learning in the Flow of Work: Anticipating Learners’ Needs

Ike Bennion

Director of Product Marketing, Innovation and Strategy

Over the past year, we as an industry have noted just how drastically the nature of work has evolved, from the shift to remote and more flexible environments, to the growing importance of skills over traditional credentials. But one area that’s largely missing from the conversation thus far has been the need to transform how employees learn on the job.

Imagine working on a financial statement in Microsoft Excel, only to realize that you aren’t familiar with a specific formula that’s essential to the project. There’s a video available on your company Intranet—but it’s only 30 minutes long, it’s also from two years ago, and designed for an outdated version of the software. When there’s a looming deadline, this doesn’t cut it. The pace of work is accelerating, and the skills gap is real. Workers are facing growing pressure to deliver results quickly, yet they’re often dealing with new challenges, new technology or performing unfamiliar tasks.

At its core, learning in the flow of work is a basic concept: the goal is to serve up the right content, in the right place, at the right time to meet a learner’s concrete need and desire to develop. In practice, that means that when you’re creating that financial statement in Excel, an integration with your learning platform enables you to use a toolbar right within Excel to search for and find content that can help—say, a 15 second video clip that’s best-suited to show you the formula you need quickly and effectively. Sounds simple, but the inner workings of this personalized, highly-targeted approach to learning are much more sophisticated.

To be an effective resource for today’s remote, fast-moving, and technologically-empowered employee, the right learning resource must be delivered in a moment of need. That’s why we are building learning in the flow of work as a key feature of our LMS, and our LXP which is currently in development.

Learning in the Flow of Work Delivers the Right Content When It’s Most Needed

There are "learning in the flow" integrations out in the market today, but many just put notification in new applications. What learning in the flow of work really should do is provide push and pull tools to find relevant learning in the places where employees work every day. In fact, the technology helps eliminate the need for learners to toggle into their learning platform or company Intranet for content or open up their browser to Google a solution, enhancing their focus.

On top of saving learners’ time, learning in the flow of work can use a key layer of additional context to provide employees with content: their existing skills. We’ve shared how our skills graph works to match multiple dimensions of a person to the multiple dimensions of a job, using not only their existing skills but also their interests, goals and other facets of their development. Learning in the flow of work can leverage this insight to drive content recommendations, resulting in a more useful and customized piece of content that elevates employees’ work output and furthers their growth.

Anticipating Learner’s Needs

The heart of learning in the flow of work is to better meet learner needs, but there is potential to take the technology a step further and anticipate these needs even before they arise. For example, there are common reasons why learning happens—an employee gets a new role, or has to use a new technology, or is working on a stretch assignment. There’s even the possibility that they need specific training or credentials to gain physical access to a facility they haven’t yet been to. Learning in the flow of work can help make those transitions easier and take some of the burden off of learners and administrators.

With more of the right data about users we can pick up and use these signals to deliver the right content in the right times and places. Like through data from other Cornerstone solutions, learning in the flow of work will have recognized that an employee has recently been promoted to a new role, which means they’ll need support in building new skills or other learning materials.

Fueling the Future of Learning

This may sound futuristic, but it’s not too far off. We are laying the foundations right now, and it’s just the beginning. As our skills AI continues to mature and ingest more content across the web and within an organization’s intellectual property environment, it’ll only become more sophisticated in delivering content when employees need it—and even before they realize that they do.

Our aim is to bring learning closer to work than it has ever been before. The result? A more empowered, happy, and productive workforce.


For more reading on the increasing prioritization of skills development and best practices for rolling out training programs, check out our global report, "A License to Skill: Embracing the Reskilling Revolution."

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

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Taking A Company-Wide Approach to Learning & Development

There’s a lot of coordination that goes into a company’s learning and development programming, from identifying skills gaps and creating engaging content to scaling initiatives company-wide. And because there’s so much complex planning involved, organizations can sometimes get caught up in the details, and overlook how L&D fits into broader organizational goals. A recent survey—titled "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change"—from Cornerstone People Research Lab (CPRL) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI) found that only 55% of organizations believe their L&D programs are well-aligned with their company’s overarching strategy. But CPRL and HCI’s survey reveals two logical ways to overcome this challenge. First, there’s a need for L&D executives to participate in strategic conversations around organizational goals to ensure that L&D planning aligns with broader business plans. And second, it’s important to share responsibility for learning effectiveness. If facilitating continuous learning is a part of everyone’s role, it becomes easier to integrate it organization-wide. Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration and Responsibility To better align L&D efforts with overarching business goals, learning executives have to participate in strategic conversations about organizational direction. For instance, when business leaders gather to discuss goals and KPIs for the coming year or quarter, HR and L&D leaders should be involved in those conversations. And the opposite is also true: Business leaders need to help direct the learning outcomes framed against those goals. According to the "Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey from CPRL and HCI, only about half (51%) of learning leaders report being involved in these discussions. During these business planning discussions, it’s important to establish accountability, especially among people managers. CPRL and HCI found 67% of people managers report being involved in the creation of content, but only 47% are involved in the accountability for the results. By holding more people accountable to the success of L&D programs, it can be easier for a company to spot pitfalls or opportunities for improvement. It creates shared goals for measuring effectiveness, and establishes a process for making changes. For example, by getting people managers involved in L&D initiatives, L&D leaders can work with them to get a better understanding of a specific team’s skill gaps or what reskilling or new skilling solutions will work best for them. All leaders in an organization, in fact, should be eager to participate and own their team’s newskilling, reskilling or upskilling efforts. Ask a people manager in the IT department to reiterate the importance of learning to their team, and track the amount of time their employees spend on learning content. This approach will not only create a shared commitment to continuous learning, but can also help leaders outside of L&D and HR get a better idea of what content or formats work best for their teams and recommend adjustments accordingly. Continuous Learning Is Everyone’s Responsibility Aligning overarching business plans and strategy with learning and development efforts can improve each’s efficacy. The more cross-departmental collaboration that exists, the more information that HR and L&D leaders have about their workforce and its needs, strengths and weaknesses. And with more accountability, all stakeholders in an organization can become more involved in ensuring the successful partnership between L&D and a company’s overall strategy. To learn more about the findings from Cornerstone’s "The Revolution is Now: New-Skill Your Workforce to Catalyze Change" survey and its recommendations for using cross-departmental collaboration and accountability to help with L&D efforts, click here to download and read the full report.

Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

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Why supporting neurodiversity is essential for any successful workforce today

When we think of diversity in the workforce, we typically think of it along the lines of race, religion, sexual orientation or gender. But focusing only on those four is its own sort of constraint. To truly create a successful and diverse workplace, you need to ensure you're also embracing neurodiversity too. Understanding neurodiversity In the late 1990s, a single mother in Australia named Judy Singer began studying Disability Studies at University of Technology Sydney. Her daughter had recently been diagnosed with what was then known as “Asperger’s Syndrome,” a form of autism spectrum disorder. As she read more and more about autism as part of her studies, Singer also suspected that her mother, and she herself, may have had some form of autism spectrum disorder. Singer describes crying as she realized that her mother, with whom she'd had a tumultuous relationship throughout her childhood, wasn’t purposefully cold or neurotic as she had thought. She just had a different kind of mind. In her honors thesis, Singer coined the term “neurodiversity.” For Singer, people with neurological differences like autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or dyslexia were a social class of their own and should be treated as such. If we are going to embrace diversity of race, gender, religion, sexuality, etc., then we must embrace a diversity of the mind. The following video is an excerpt from the "Neurodiversity" Grovo program, which is available in the Cornerstone Content Anytime Professional Skills subscription. Neurodiversity in today's workplace Recently, neurodiversity has become a trendy term in diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging spaces. And many organizations are working to hire more neurodivergent people, as well as give them opportunities to thrive at work. That’s why, at Cornerstone, we recently produced a series of lessons on neurodiversity. If your organization hasn’t prioritized neurodiverse inclusion yet, here are some reasons why it both supports your people and organization. 1) Neurodivergent people are underemployed Neurodivergent people, especially people with autism, are widely under-employed, regardless of their competence. In the United States, 85% of college graduates with autism are unemployed. According to a 2006 study, individuals with ADHD have higher rates of unemployment than individuals without. However, there is no evidence that neurodivergent people are less competent or less intelligent than neurotypical people. Organizations are missing out on talented people. 2) Neurodivergent people are more common than you may think Neurodiversity manifests in many different ways. It can encompass autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, Tourette syndrome, and many other conditions. And as scientists have learned more about what makes someone neurodivergent, they're identifying more and more people. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 160 children have some form of autism spectrum disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1 in every 162 children have Tourette Syndrome, and roughly 8 percent of children under 18 have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. And that's just children. How many adults, like Judy Singer's mother, have struggled their whole lives without a diagnosis? People who are neurodivergent are everywhere. Diverse organizations are stronger Diverse organizations and teams not only have better financial returns than less-diverse ones, but they also perform better. Having the different perspectives presented by people who are neurodivergent can help your team solve more difficult problems. Different perspectives and different ways of thinking lead to creativity and innovation.

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Blog Post

Why Selecting a Leadership Development Program Is Way Too Complicated

Many organizations face a leadership gap and cannot find the talent needed to grow. We could blame the retiring baby boomer phenomenon, the free agent nation, or the lack of investment made in developing leaders. But since blame is a lazy man’s wage, I will not entertain that debate because there are too many options out there for developing leaders. There are many leadership development programs in the market. In minutes, with a simple Internet search or over coffee with your head of human resources, you can discover myriad high-quality leadership development programs that you could use in your organization to develop leaders. The problem is not finding a good program, but in choosing one. Answer the Right Questions So how does one choose? The problem we face in evaluating leadership development programs is that we get caught up in evaluating the content rather than asking a simple question, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Each organization is unique in how it answers this question. And that is where the secret lies. If an organization can select a program that matches the answer to the question above, the selected program will likely be the right one. After all, each leadership development program is very good in some way. It is not so important which one you select. It is important that you use the one you select. In other words, the key is to not let it become another un-opened binder on the bookshelves of your management team. Be An Effective Leader Let me give you an example: If an organization’s answer to the question above is, "We want our leaders to be proactive and focused on the things that drive results," your choices are narrowed down to only a few programs that would deliver on that answer. And if I had to pick one program that would deliver on that answer, without hesitation, I would choose, "The Effective Executive" by Peter F. Drucker. It is a classic, and all five of the behaviors of effective executives taught in the book remain vital skills that any leader should practice if he or she wants to be effective in his or her organization. In the book, Drucker teaches that effective executives: Know where their time goes Focus on contribution and results Build on strengths Concentrate on first things first Make effective decisions This is not a book review or a plug for "The Effective Executive," though I do believe if you had to choose one set of skills to teach your leadership, it would be the five from Drucker’s book. This is a challenge for every organization to simplify the selection of leadership development programs, and ask, "What do we want our leaders to be able to do?" Answering this question clearly will help you choose the right program. After all, many programs are excellent. The secret to success is not in which program you choose, but that you get people to apply the program you choose. Photo: Can Stock

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