Becoming a learning organization has long been an idealistic goal for learning and development (L&D) leaders. But what does it actually mean to be a learning organization?
Simply put, a learning organization is one that can adapt products, services, customer interactions, and internal processes as the world around it changes. And the key to becoming one is finding efficient ways to upskill and reskill employees as your business evolves.
L&D leaders have been under pressure to accelerate workplace learning for years now. A 2019 McKinsey survey found that “nearly nine in ten” businesses were struggling with a skills gap or expected one to appear within five years. And the COVID-19 pandemic only made the problem worse.
In the wake of COVID-19, it’s essential that every organization become a learning organization so that you can adapt quickly and effectively to widespread business changes.
1. COVID-19 Has Made Remote Work the Long-Term Norm
It’s essential for every organization to become a learning organization because the pandemic sparked a massive shift to remote-first work. Every organization is facing the same pressure to adapt, but learning organizations are the ones that will be able to manage the transition the best.
Individuals within a learning organization embrace a lifelong learning mentality. They’re willing to embrace new systems and workflows and learn the skills necessary to master them over time. And they have this mindset because they know their organizations will provide the right amount of support and training.
The rapid shift to remote work may have been jarring for companies that don’t have the structure in place to support ongoing employee training and learning. But they had no choice but to adapt. Global lockdowns during the pandemic forced businesses to embrace remote work throughout 2020. And by June 2020, a survey of IT decision makers found that 67% of businesses would extend remote work policies over the long-term or make them completely permanent.
In theory, shifting to new digital systems and remote work should help businesses move faster and adapt to change more efficiently. But that’s only true when you give employees the support and guidance they need to succeed in the new model.
Remote work isn’t disappearing anytime soon, which means organizations can’t just wait until they can return to “business as usual.” There’s a new “business as usual” now, and learning organizations are the ones that will thrive in it.
2. COVID-19 Has Forced Companies to Overhaul Technology Faster Than Expected
Learning organizations that embrace change and have systems in place to scale the employee training needed to keep up with that change have always been in a better position to succeed in digital transformation. But the gap between learning organizations and those that struggle with change will be even wider now that COVID-19 forced companies across all industries to accelerate digital transformation plans and overhaul workplace technology far faster than expected.
Immediate responses to COVID-19 required businesses to embrace digital technologies as a means of survival. Without them, operations would have ground to a halt. A McKinsey study found that COVID-19 forced companies to:
- Increase support for remote work and collaboration 43x faster than expected.
- Implement more advanced technologies for operational tasks 25x faster than expected.
- Add advanced technologies to enhance decision-making processes 25x faster than expected.
- Migrate business systems and assets to the cloud 24x faster than expected.
These rapid changes put stress on your business and your employees. And that stress won’t just disappear. In the wake of COVID-19, businesses will continue to digitalize core systems and revamp workflows for remote employees.
Learning organizations will have the processes and content in place to effectively support employees. They’ll be the ones that provide ongoing training and education for workflow changes, new software, and feature updates to maximize productivity across the entire organization.
3. COVID-19 Has Changed Customer Expectations for Products and Services
Learning organizations don’t just put employees in positions to be more productive—they rally around business model changes in response to evolving customer expectations.
The pandemic accelerated the shift toward digital customer interactions, putting pressure on businesses to change their business models accordingly. This, in turn, required employees to embrace change and adapt as workflows evolved.
Learning organizations are able to turn new customer expectations into competitive advantages. A workforce with a lifelong learning mentality will be able to adapt to customer needs in the short-term while your company makes big-picture changes to the business model over the long-term.
Fostering a strong learning culture ensures internal resistance to change doesn’t negatively impact the customer experience.
4. COVID-19 Has Put Software ROI Under a Microscope
It’s essential to become a learning organization so you can maximize software ROI at a time when business leaders are in cost-cutting mode.
A PwC survey found that 81% of CFOs have put cost-cutting plans in place to safeguard their businesses against the uncertain post-COVID world. Increased focus on cutting costs doesn’t mean companies will stop investing in new software and technology to improve the business. Rather, it means executives will be paying close attention to the ROI of any new piece of technology.
In a learning organization, employees embrace new technology and get the support they need to quickly adopt new solutions into their day-to-day workflows. The faster users fully adopt new software, the faster your organization will see a return on the investment. Compared to organizations that can’t properly onboard and train users on complex systems, learning organizations are better prepared to thrive in a post-COVID world.
Digital Adoption Platforms: The Drivers of Post-COVID Organizational Learning
A digital adoption platform (DAP) can drive your post-COVID organizational learning. DAPs integrate with your enterprise software to provide users with in-app walkthroughs and training content, which help employees quickly and easily adopt new software and workflows.
DAPs decrease onboarding time, reduce the number of support tickets, and maximize the ROI of enterprise software. There are four basic building blocks that help DAPs support this objective for remote workforces post-COVID:
- Asynchronous Onboarding: DAPs help employees learn in the flow of work, onboarding them at their own pace from wherever they work and increasing time to productivity.
- Learning Analytics: DAPs offer deep insight into the learning progress of individual employees, helping managers provide personalized support when necessary to keep adoption on track.
- Microlearning Support: DAPs make it easy to create bite-sized training content for employees to discover exactly when they need it within an application. You can also create task lists with this content to give employees clear direction when learning new workflows and track their progress.
- Centralized Knowledge Management: DAPs integrate with your learning management system (LMS), so you can quickly access all training content and build personalized courses that support continuous improvement. This also creates a searchable database to support knowledge sharing and self-service problem-solving.
One of the biggest advantages of DAPs for learning organizations is the ability to decrease content creation time. With the right solution, you get a code-free editor for creating interactive walkthroughs of any enterprise application. And the best DAPs will automatically convert those walkthroughs into other training material formats like PDFs and videos.
Now is the perfect time to focus on becoming a true learning organization. And the Whatfix DAP is the perfect solution to help you achieve that goal. Request a demo and find out how Whatfix can help upskill and reskill your workforce.