Stopping the silent killer of workplace e-learning

Guest Blog By Tim Thomas-Peter, Ambidect


I recently caught up with a global L&D manager who’d spent several years solving a thorny problem: how to reinforce the customer excellence programme for thousands of young, front-line employees in demanding work environments.



Her team was now boosting training habits and knowledge retention through an e-learning programme for customer excellence teams world-wide. It successfully uses trusted ‘classroom’-style learning assets just as much as the video training clips of the YouTube age. She said this approach was triggering more effective workforce learning, even in high-pressure customer support and retail environments.


What struck me as she spoke, however, was the L&D team’s real breakthrough had been to vanquish the silent killer of many a big company’s training efforts. It’s a common challenge but one that is not commonly diagnosed. One that holds back ‘engaged’ learning and productivity increases: a legacy learning management system (LMS) that can’t deliver content to front-line teams.


She said the company had long wanted to beef up its programme learning modules for different regions, including outsourced partners and franchisees. Her department wanted to bring about incremental behavioural changes: encouraging employees to return to and re-use content and Millennial employees to upskill in quiet times.


There were, however, two fundamental questions that her L&D team had consistently struggled to resolve.


First, how could the company replicate ‘classroom’ materials and exciting, social media-style content, to inspire employees in such high-pressure situations, without the learning tool itself getting in the way?


Second, with colleagues operating in so many extended workforces and worse, using so many different IT environments, how could learning materials be reliably delivered to different PCs, workstations and devices – without time-consuming and costly IT and LMS upgrades?


There was no doubt that the L&D team had long understood the daily pressures on front-line teams working in a call centre or retail outlet; if a learning app or module failed first time, they wouldn’t look at it again.


But as it investigated the content delivery ‘issue’, the L&D department found that in many territories, the corporate LMS clearly struggled to accommodate different legacy office IT systems or staff devices. Worse, the system couldn’t readily accept new content formats without costly upgrades. That shift in staff behaviour her team wanted – accessing content repeatedly, with the ease of social media – simply wasn’t happening.


So how did the company make that breakthrough to accessible e-learning materials?


The L&D team tackled the content delivery issue with a different mindset. They accepted that you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results, so they engaged with learning platform specialists with experience from outside the industry. Digital information provision has leapt forward across publishing and the media and many of the techniques used there can pull the L&D industry forward. Her team had to stop thinking in terms of “how do we do this with the tools we already have?” This applies to IT generally, given the limitations of internal networks – and LMSs that were never designed for agile and engaging learning strategies.


The L&D manager commissioned a learning app that sits on a cloud-based learning platform, ensuring user flexibility and commonality of training content on any corporate, partner, or franchisee’s IT network, and deliver the information assets to the point of need.


Rolling it out country by country, the L&D team uses the e-learning app to push structured and localised learning materials to customer excellence teams.


The app ensures accessible content – explainer videos, best practice PDFs and short games – to encourage more flexible learning at work. By delivering established training materials and newer video formats at the point of need, front line personnel have something in their pocket or at the desk that enhances their training and coaching efforts.


The learning programme is becoming part of the employee’s day. There is peer-group competition for knowledge. Supervisors say the app helps front-line teams refine soft skills, like receiving feedback or keeping a positive mindset, through repeated viewings of video clips.


Instead of fixating on trendy content to attract younger age groups, like many companies, the L&D professionals had realised that ‘bite-size’ content being accessed reliably on any device or in any office, across extended workforces, was the key to behavioural change. The company’s new e-learning apps operate on the main corporate network just as well as they deliver standardised content to partner teams – even if they will never have the very latest IT networks, tablets or smart devices.


By making training assets available when needed at the front line, the L&D team has inspired behavioural change across customer excellence teams. For me, they have achieved more, because they have overcome the limitations of LMSs and multiple IT set-ups – the silent killer of engaged learning.


Ambidect is a global innovator in learning and development platforms for businesses.
Tel: 01260 221292

Author: Editor

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