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Are Your Employees Ready to Take Control of Their Learning?

Thursday, June 20, 2019

According to PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, CEOs are turning inward to drive revenue growth. Faced with global trade and economic uncertainties, executives are optimizing areas within their control, such as operational efficiencies and opportunities for organic growth. As PwC points out, however, a look inward means CEOs must confront their own challenges as they relate to the information and skills gaps; 55 percent of CEO respondents cited an “inability to innovate effectively” as a top concern, followed closely by “higher-than-expected people costs.”

Upskilling and reskilling are buzzwords of the moment within corporate learning. As reflected by the PwC report, CEOs are increasingly frustrated by their organization’s inability to advance and by the growing skills gap. They expect their organization, enabled by a modern learning strategy, to remain ahead of the skills curve. To do that, they need to foster adaptability and ongoing learning so employees are empowered and equipped to take charge.

The good news is employees want to be empowered. In a recent study published in Harvard Business Review, 85 percent of learners say they understand their learning gaps and know what they can do to bridge them. They are also willing to put in the effort. On average, employees are spending just over an hour hours per week on learning opportunities provided by their employer and triple that amount of time on self-guided learning. Social learning from mentors and peers also played a prominent role for these surveyed professionals, with 44 percent saying they looked to teams and peers for learning, preferring this type over learning delivered through formal corporate channels, HR, or their L&D team.


Here are a few ways employees can take charge of their learning:

  • Be open to feedback. Employees who successfully manage their learning are proactive, reaching out to colleagues, mentors, and managers for feedback while using techniques such as Social Assessment. They also are receptive to making changes based on feedback.
  • Journal, curate, and reflect on learning. It is helpful for employees to use tools such as blogging to journal insights. Successful employees also actively curate their own learning resources to supplement those provided by their employer.
  • Seek out opportunities to practice learning. The availability of video (on every mobile phone) provides employees with the tools to quickly capture and record a learning insight or practice a presentation/pitch/customer encounter and share it with colleagues, coaches, and mentors for feedback. Mobile-enabled learning also enables equal-opportunity learning, providing support for those who work remotely.
  • Bring your learning with you. Mobile-enabled modern learning systems offer anywhere, anytime access to learning. So, learning can happen on the road, in a hotel room, on the train to work, or in the local coffee shop—wherever employees feel most comfortable and can escape from day-to-day office distractions.

Here are a few ways leaders can help empower employees to take charge of their learning:

  • Make it easy for employees to discover learning opportunities. While we want to encourage employees to take charge of their learning, they often don’t know what resources are available to them. Look for a modern learning solution that allows employees to easily discover content from within the approved corporate library, so they’ll have relevant learning at their fingertips.
  • Provide employees with a clear direction for learning and a road map of how to get to their goals. To take charge of their own learning, employees need to be able to visualize their learning path and, within that road map, adjust their course to address their specific weaknesses, strengths, and learning goals. To ensure it resonates, instruction should be personalized whenever possible. Consider an employee who comes to you with a goal to advance into a new role. Rather than looking at the learning path toward that goal in discrete steps, consider allowing them to visualize that learning pathway as a process by seeing content laid out in a sequential way.
About the Author

Will Campos joined D2L in 2012 to be a part of the company’s rapid expansion into the global marketplace and specifically Latin America. He has a passion for new technologies and emerging markets and has applied his background in Business Management to help build a strong international business at D2L. William wants to live a world filled with innovative businesses, education for all and winters that are maybe 6 months instead of 8 in Canada.

1 Comment
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Leaders should inspire their individual contributors to embrace continuous learning (assumption is leaders inherently are doing this already.) The more applicable knowledge we can share with our teammates, the more successful we should be. The side effect is broadening individual knowledge and skills to be more competitive for increasing levels of responsibility. Win-win.
Employees who don't pursue continuous learning could be sending a red flag about their commitment.
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