The labour market currently finds itself in a place where nurturing and retaining existing talent is more important than ever. According to ONS data, in July 2022 the number of vacancies in the UK remained slightly higher than the number of unemployed people – we are certainly not yet seeing an end to the impact of the Great Resignation and the global skills gap.
As such, organisations must continue to prioritise employee retention and satisfaction by ensuring existing staff enjoy the best experience possible. This should involve tailoring learning programmes to meet the needs of all people, no matter their age or experience level. Considering a people-centric strategy that drives effective learning experiences is crucial, contributing to building workplace initiatives that are effective for everyone at all stages of their lives and careers.
Learning through the lifespan
The traditional ‘one-size fits all’ approach to workplace learning fails to account for variety in types of learners. The consequences of this are significant, because by trying to provide for everyone, blanket approaches to learning can end up providing for no one.
Employees differ in a multitude of ways, but as the workforce gets older, age becomes an increasingly important consideration when designing workplace learning strategies. The number of older workers (generally defined as those aged 50+) in the workplace has been rising for several years now, with latest estimates suggesting that older workers represent almost a third (32.6%) of the UK’s workforce. Learning must therefore be tailored to the wide range of generations present in the workplace, as each age group has different development needs.
For example, those who are just starting their career may have a lot of transferable skills learned from their time at university but lack the industry-specific knowledge that they need to succeed in their role. On the flipside, older workers have decades of industry-specific knowledge but could lack the digital skills that are necessary for today’s digital-first workplace environment. Personalisation is key here; businesses must deliver an approach that blends the needs of an organisation with the needs of its individuals. This means delivering people-centricity from the user’s perspective, by giving them content that they will engage with and ensuring the upmost efficiency. Alongside this, from an organisational viewpoint, it is essential to make data easily accessible so that a business can learn invaluable information about its population and where any skills gaps might exist.
Encourage a culture of learning
Once a strategy is designed, HR leaders must ensure that its execution meets expectations. When delivering content for a wide range of age brackets, leaders must consider the value of flexibility, both in terms of content materials and delivery, offering a wide range to suit everyone. Equally, individuals want the opportunity to learn and develop at their own pace, which in turn can keep them engaged and motivated to upskill and develop.
To facilitate a lifelong learning culture, organisations can consider integrating a Learning Management System (LMS) into their workflow. With an LMS onboard, organisations can easily offer a wide range of personalised learning experiences, monitor the progress of their staff, and get the most out of people development for everyone. By doing so, businesses can tailor and modify the learning solution so that they are constantly, iteratively improving the learning experience being delivered. As a result, learners are much more likely to engage, as the content is always highly relevant and delivered in a format that suits them.
Make learning exciting and interactive
As digital learning becomes increasingly popular, organisations have come to realise that learning must be engaging and accessible for every learner, as well as informative. One way in which this can be done is by ‘gamifying’ learning, otherwise known as adding gaming elements to learning. Gamification doesn’t turn learning directly into a game, but rather introduces more interactive elements, therefore encouraging learners to interact and better recall information. This approach can benefit all age ranges. Although gamification requires technology, the level of digital literacy required is relatively low.
The main aim of learning is always for users to retain the knowledge they gain. Gamification of learning can encourage learners to feel good, as they experience the dopamine hit of achieving something positive. This impacts positively on knowledge retention, as employees associate learning something knew with a happy feeling. Gamification therefore boosts motivation and engagement, encouraging learners to continue learning and build up their knowledge.
Lifelong learning as a strategic necessity
Pivoting to a lifelong approach to learning is crucial for ensuring all employees can engage successfully with their job roles. The traditional approach of onboarding, followed by ad-hoc training at various points during the employee lifecycle, is not sufficient for today’s workforce, who are staying in the workplace for longer than ever before. Learning should take place at regular intervals within the flow of one’s everyday work and be delivered in a format that makes sense for the individual.
This is especially relevant in today’s fragile employment landscape, where if employees do not feel that they are enjoying their experience and progressing in their organisation, they are liable to leave and find a more suitable role for them. As a result of this trend, businesses must consider how they can create a culture of lifelong learning, implementing strategies such as gamification and a LMS to drive success.