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Why you need to tailor L&D strategies to modern ways of thinking

It’s no secret that the modern brain works in a distinct way. On the whole, our attention spans are more limited, we’re short on time and we find bite-size pieces of information the easiest to digest.  

Employees now spend just “1% of their time on learning and development.” (1) So, efficiency is crucial. The most effective learning solutions are those which are tailored to the way modern brains work, and that’s why learning and development professionals really need to take the time to understand the best ways in which to share information with employees.  

It’s time to update traditional ways of learning. Here are five reasons to challenge the norm when it comes to learning strategies, in order to provide more effective learning solutions for the modern workforce.  

We now take in information differently

Modern day workers have a short attention span, so information needs to be packaged appropriately. In research undertaken by Bersin, it was found that “most learners won’t watch videos longer than four minutes.” And this is absolutely right. How many times have you sighed when asked to watch a training video which goes on for twenty minutes?

Distractions are a huge obstacle to development

Workplace distractions cost time and money, now more than ever before. Employees are short on time, so every moment of distraction really does have a damaging effect on the quantity and quality of information they’re able to take in. Workers “are now distracted on average every five minutes”, and that’s while they’re in the office!

Not only that, employees are now experiencing new levels of independence at work, meaning their responsibilities are increasing too. It’s a good idea to increase alignment in the workplace in order to maximise the potential of employees’ abilities to retain information.

We need to harness the power of mobile tech

New technology is being released all the time, but nothing quite compares to the power of the smartphone when it comes to sharing information. Smartphones are hugely useful in the workplace, allowing employees to find the answers to specific questions as and when they might need to. They’re also incredibly powerful in terms of mobile learning.

Learning and development professionals are increasingly using mobile learning as a way to encourage employees to invest time in training on the go. As previously mentioned, employees have just “1% of their time to spend on training.” And that’s simply not enough.

The advent of mobile learning means that employees could turn their daily commute into crucial training time, or spend a few minutes here and there on training as they go about their day. When it’s all in the palm of your hand, the possibilities start to open up.

Motivation to learn isn’t waning

Whilst we can all see the drops in learning and development strategies across the board, it would be a mistake to think that this is down to a lack of motivation to learn on the part of employees. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Employees are still reporting a willingness and a desire to further their careers through training and development. Although almost all employees feel they don’t have enough spare time to spend on training, they will still give up their own time and money to learn. Bersin found that “62% of IT professionals” have done so, and when you look at the industry these employees are working in, it’s easy to see why.

Investment is just as crucial as ever before

New methods of learning tailored to the modern learner are still hugely reliant on investment, both in time and money. It has been reported that only “38% of people feel they have access to long-term development at work.”

Many employees feel they have little choice but to invest in themselves, by undertaking training outside of the workplace. Of course, not everyone has the resources to do this, and therefore learning and development on the whole is suffering.

It’s not difficult to predict what the impact of this might be on our economy, long-term. Nothing is more important than investing in people, and it’s the companies that respect this that will rise to the top.

It’s time to tailor training to new ways of learning

It’s more important than ever that modern trainers respect the needs of modern learners. The way in which we digest information has evolved considerably over the years, and in order to provide successful learning and development that really works, trainers need to understand this.

Employees do still want to learn. It’s just a case of packaging information in an effective, easy to digest way. Trainers need to cut through the noise and demand employees’ attention. It’s the only way to guarantee effective learning solutions for the modern workforce.


Do you want to find out more about the future of learning? Download our free eBook by McKinsey’s Chief Learning Officer Nick van Dam.