Organisational learning: The keys to improving efficiency

Laura Overton provides practical, evidence-based insights for delivering greater learning impact

Despite a growing expectation and demand for learning within an organisation, budgets continue to be cut. We all know what we want and need our technology to do and that’s deliver more, for less but how we get it to do that is not always clear. 

The good news is that learning technologies can significantly increase programme efficiency and quality; it just needs to be done well. Doing it well includes the ability to blend: technology with face-to-face learning, good learning design and engaging classroom trainers through the whole process – from design through to delivery.

So, what learning efficiencies are we hoping to achieve through better use of technology? Our research shows that:

  • 99% of us want to increase learning access and flexibility
  • 98% want to improve the quality of learning delivered
  • 96% want to improve induction/onboarding process
  • 93% want to increase the volume of learning, reaching more people
  • 87% want to reduce training costs
  • 86% want to comply with new regulations.

The question is, are we doing it? Are we achieving these efficiencies? 

Many (77%) in the Top Deck (the top 10% performing teams in our annual benchmark) are achieving their efficiency goals, compared with only 42% on average. Moreover, we found that 31% of what we call the efficiency achievers are achieving success in five or more of the key areas.

So, what’s their secret? What is it that the efficiency achievers are doing that is yielding these results?

Our latest research, the 2016-17 Learning Benchmark Report, ‘Unlocking Potential: Releasing the potential of the business and its people through learning’, highlights several important tactics to improve efficiency. They are:

  • providing appropriate and timely content
  • harnessing technology appropriately through basic design
  • keeping it clean
  • supporting face-to-face training with online learning

These four areas have the strongest correlation with successful efficiency outcomes and today I want to put the spotlight on one in particular: supporting face-to-face training with online learning.

The ability to blend technology with face-to-face learning is critical in today’s world. 94% of our respondents said they want to be using technology to increase the effectiveness of face-to-face training but only a little over a third (39%) are actually achieving it.

Technology which has just been bolted onto the back of classroom training won’t yield results, classroom and online learning need to be considered, designed and developed hand-in-hand – they need to complement and support each other.

And that’s what the efficiency achievers are doing. Almost half (45%) agree that their face-to-face training integrates technologies within the programme, versus 21% of non-achievers. The same figure (45%) also agree that their face-to-face training builds on knowledge gained through online learning, compared with 24% of non-achievers.

Of course, some people view technology-enabled learning and classroom learning as two distinct entities. And some people think that the classroom is dead.

We know that neither is true. It may not dominate learning in quite the same way as it did a few years ago, but classroom training is still key to success. After all, it still accounts for at least 56% of learning for those organisations taking part in our study.

To achieve the necessary synergy between online and offline learning, organisations need to have a classroom trainer on board. The classroom trainer plays a central role, promoting and implementing digital learning to support delivery and understanding how technology can enhance the learning design.

Often working most closely with learners, classroom trainers can understand the learner’s needs and support and facilitate change.

Yet, classroom trainers are often not involved in incorporating technology into classroom learning. And it’s usually because they don’t want to be: one in three organisations said their classroom trainers are reluctant to adopt new technology. We probed further into this area, looking at what the Top Deck are doing, compared with those in lower quartiles of our benchmark.

What did we find? Again, Top Deck organisations are outperforming other organisations by a long shot, with many of them involving classroom trainers in technology-enabled learning as a top priority. Our research shows that 85% of the Top Deck involve classroom trainers in the design process for elearning, compared with 49% of other benchmarking participants.

They are also much more likely (87%) to integrate technology into face-to-face learning, compared with 24% of other participants and finally, 82% ensure that their face-to-face training builds on knowledge gained through elearning courses, compared with 26% of others, and these organisations are over twice as likely to agree that they have increased the volume of learning they deliver. 


About the author

Laura Overton is founder and CEO of benchmarking and research organisation Towards Maturity. See latest news on Twitter at #TMbenchmark. The Towards Maturity Benchmark reveals where you can make quick wins and gives you the data you need to make a solid business case for the future. Identify the tactics that will deliver greater impact for your organisation at:


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