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When Employee-led Learning Doesn’t Work

Amrit Sandhar

Recent research by LinkedIn¹ shows that 59 percent of companies are increasing spending on digital learning and 39 percent have reduced instructor led training since 2017. As Josh Bersin, explains, this is because “Digital learning works!”. This has led to an explosion of learning experience platforms (LXP), in an L&D market estimated to be worth over $240 billion, growing by 7 percent in one year alone. Contributor Amrit Sandhar founder – The Engagement Coach.

One aspect of these digital learning experience platforms, is in the ability for employees to upload their own video content, allowing learning to be shared across an organisation. This trend towards user-generated learning means it costs organisations nothing to create content, and internal experts can share their knowledge quickly and efficiently. 

The success of this approach has been used to demonstrate improved engagement in learning, with many organisations citing the number of visits to learning experience platforms as a measure of success. 

There is a challenge with this approach. Within the same report, 57 percent of senior leaders surveyed identified “soft skills are more important than hard skills”; listing skills such as creativity, persuasion, collaboration and adaptability. If you were to ask those leaders who are naturally highly engaging, who create trusting working environments for their team and have higher productivity as a result, ‘what do you do and how do you do it?’, many would struggle to explain this. For many, they just do what they do – it comes naturally. Asking them to create a video to share their knowledge with others would turn into a very bland training video indeed. 

We believe that user-generated learning used to help teach technical skills such as ‘how do you use this software’, would be ideal for this type of learning. For understanding more complex situations such as ‘how can I improve the relationship with my team’, it requires expertise in human behaviour.  

This knowledge of behavioural science helps us to explain what’s going on. As humans we have a desire to know why something works, so we can replicate our successes and be confident in the processes we are using to get similar results, time and again. Combine this knowledge with the space to practice these skills in a safe environment, along with the ability for individuals to tailor the approach to their way of leading, and you create learning that allows for changes in behaviour to feel more authentic. 

Most employees who are good at the softer skills, are so, without fully appreciating how or why they are so good. The best students are not always the best teachers as this lack of awareness of what they do and how they do it, despite being very good at it, means it’s difficult to teach or help others. Experts can provide these insights and allow for the practice of these skills and the importance of the steps needed to replicate success and help with understanding the behavioural science behind how and why something works. 

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