Talent development is the biggest issue that growing small businesses and fast-moving startups face today. According to Deloitte’s 2015 Human Capital Trends report, 78 percent or four out of five of respondents ranked talent retention as urgent or important.
Yet, historically, formal employee learning programs have only been accessible by enterprise corporations. Even then, outdated, clunky and cumbersome learning management software, random seminars and instructor-led training sessions are static and ineffective. There is little to no learning continuity after those training events, and even less exists in the way of fostering peer-to-peer knowledge sharing within organizations.
How do we make learning stick, instituting a continuous culture of learning? How can startups use learning to maintain company culture as they scale?
We will soon see a few key trends emerge in employee learning that align with the lean, quick and agile methodology that small businesses need to survive.
1. Learning will live within our workflow.
Humans naturally like reading and learning. We more than ever consume in short bursts. However, in the workplace, learning has always pulled us out of our workflow. Weaving learning into employees’ everyday workflow helps tremendously with talent development and retention for startups and small businesses.
Learning is non-linear and should adapt to our everyday flow -- not take us out of it. This is the new, contextual learning model (streaming) vs. the old model (broadcast). Broadcast was top-down and dictatorial. The streaming model is accessible 24/7, collaborative and peer-generated.
2. Learning will be required to scale.
Globalization is at the doorstep of small businesses. Employee development, engagement and retention is a critical component of a more global and competitive marketplace.
As a startup “arrives," finds success and begins scaling, entrepreneurs always hit unanticipated new aspects of their business. When learning and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing is built into your workflow, you will adapt faster, conquer these learning curves organically and scale more easily.
When learning is built into the fabric of your organization and your startup is penetrating new market opportunities, you can capitalize -- and not just survive, but thrive.
3. Mobile learning will transform user experience.
The future will bring an employee learning experience that is non-intrusive and driven by keywords and social queues. The marketing industry has taught us the lesson that you can easily lose your audience with long-form content.
Today, learning content should be presented in a more agile way, in micro-bursts that give employees the chance to learn in a day-to-day manner. The emphasis will be on fluidity, finally reconnecting us to the learning itself.
Both mobile apps and responsively-designed mobile websites will suffice to deliver learning content, with the real priority being short-form learning content in bite-sized blocks.
As we increasingly work remotely off of mobile devices, naturally, a more lightweight and intuitive user experience is becoming required for successful employee learning. Mobile access and short-form learning content will effectively address the question of user experience moving forward.
4. We will learn more about each other.
Adjusting to everyone we work with or come in contact with on a daily basis will soon become a core competency. Rapidly increasing awareness around issues such as diversity and inclusion, both visible and unseen disabilities and leadership skills are just some of the reasons why employee learning is steeply ramping up within the small business sector.
Moving forward, implementing next-generation employee learning programs will be the secret weapon that will separate savvy entrepreneurs apart from their competitors.