Transforming L&D into a tailored learning experience

What do you deem as great online customer experience? It could be the ability to find what you need in a few clicks or getting answers in real-time. Or it might be when a brand understands your preferences and so tailors the experience to your wants. No matter what you rate most important, it’s the experience itself that defines your engagement and satisfaction.

We’re experiencing a shift to a hybrid workforce, with technology integrated into nearly every aspect of working life. For L&D, the biggest challenge is innovating the learner experience to meet expectations that come as we become accustomed to technology. Nearly half (49%) of L&D leaders surveyed in our latest whitepaper The digital opportunity: Striking the digital balance for better learning experiences agreed this was their biggest challenge as the workforce heads into a new era.

The insight we gained from 350 L&D leaders, 500 business leaders and more than 2,000 employees revealed that creating a great learner experience is not without its challenges. First and foremost is the cultural resistance around the role of technology in enhancing the learner experience.

Avoiding digital overload

When asked about current and planned use of technology to support learning delivery, the three areas that showed the biggest lack of interest were directly related to learning experience. Considering the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide personalised learning recommendations, 25% of respondents say they have no interest in it and 25% say they don’t plan on offering learning support, such as chatbots to act as assistants for on-the-go learning. When it comes to creating customised learning programmes, 22% say they have no interest in using AI to facilitate this.

L&D leaders are also concerned about the potential of over-reliance on digital products and tools in learning. 44% of L&D professionals think there’s a risk of employees becoming disengaged or suffering from learning fatigue due to excessive use of technology. Other concerns include dependence on or inappropriate use of technology. This can result in learning becoming distracting for employees and disconnected from its original objectives.

Despite these concerns, 88% of business leaders and 85% of employees believe that digitisation can help drive high quality learning experiences. So what’s the best approach to creating a better learner experience?

Putting learners at the heart

Think about your own customer experience. The same rules apply to a learner. In order to deliver high-quality experiences, brands focus on what customers want and measure the effectiveness of what they deliver. The key is putting the customer at the heart, with experiences designed specifically for them. This is how it should be for learners too.

Our research provides some insights on the role of digital in delivering a great learner experience. Across a range of interactions on the employee journey, employees prefer human interaction over automated, technology driven interaction. There are some that naturally lean towards being human-led, in particular appraisals, with 71% preferring face-to-face. This is also the case for objective setting, with human-led preferred by almost two-thirds. For training and learning activities however, preferences are more equally distributed, with 45% and 55% split between automated and face-to-face.

Getting the balance right

Our data shows L&D leaders are right to have concerns about digital delivering the entire learner experience. Employees want a mix of digital and non-digital interactions across the many touchpoints of the employee lifecycle.  This is echoed by L&D leaders, with 80% stating that optimal learning will always involve a blend of human and digital provision.

By putting the employee at the heart of the process, L&D teams can design far more effective learner experiences. Experiences that are tailored to the context of the organisation and employee. Our report also highlights that L&D leaders must be prepared to challenge their own views of digitisation. The way technology can drive learner experience to increase engagement, satisfaction and digestion of information needs to be embraced by the very team implementing it.

Setting an example to follow

Before investing in digital, there are key considerations that senior management should consider. This includes their own training, with 35% of leaders revealing a lack of digital skills across HR and L&D. By setting an example to follow, L&D can much more easily instil a culture of independent learning.

Whilst building an engaging, digitally-driven learner experience is necessary, it’s by no means a simple task. Understanding the internal barriers, skill gaps and cultural challenges and how to overcome them will allow L&D teams to work with employees and leaders across the business to harness the full potential that the mix of digital and human-based learning can deliver to an entire workforce.