How do you learn at work?

To coincide with Learning at Work Week, Steve Wainwright looks to the future of workplace learning.

Today’s workforce values greater flexibility, recognition of achievement and better opportunities for personal and professional development, often over financial incentives. Modern employees see learning opportunities and career development as real benefits – above and beyond salary and novelty ‘perks’.

Having a structured learning and development programme in place demonstrates to employees that their company values their personal development. In turn, this increases employee loyalty and helps companies attract the best possible talent.

Businesses with a strong learning culture enjoy employee engagement and retention rates around 30-50% higher than those that don’t. Classroom-based learning and away days have long since lost their relevance. In the digital world, modern workers are time-pressed, distracted and often mobile.  

They need learning and development tools that meet the demands of the modern workplace, as well as the instant, curated content delivery expectations set by social media and entertainment platforms like Netflix. 

Having a structured learning and development programme in place demonstrates to employees that their company values their personal development.

Forward thinking organisations are turning to intelligent elearning solutions that provide employees with engaging, multi-modal content and tailored learning paths. This approach can meet each individual’s learning requirements, and encourages people to fit learning into their working day when and where they can.

Employees can decide when they learn, where they learn, and how they learn (choosing from eBooks, quizzes, or videos).

But selecting a best-in-breed interactive learning platform is only the beginning. Poor organisational planning and content curation can result in a lack of adoption and learner engagement. Companies need to curate the very best learning content, tailoring it to specific functions, job roles, skills and aptitudes.

An elearning platform should give employees the freedom to choose their learning paths – but these learning paths should be guided and curated by the organisation. This helps employees find the content they need and stops them feeling overwhelmed.

Learning needs to be ‘people-centric’, not ‘learning centric’. Think, how can we help our people make learning a frequent part of their routine?  What learning content will our people engage with the most? People are individuals; each employee will have their own preference about how they learn best.


It might be listening to audio books, or watching short and structured video clips throughout the day, as and when specific challenges arise. More learning content is available now than ever before. Organisations need to help their employees find what works for them by acting as curator, offering guidance and structure with learning recommendations tailored to each individual employee.

However it’s not just about training – it’s about creating a culture of inclusion, from the CEO down. A company’s leadership needs to communicate the vision, mission, strategy and goals of the business so that every single person feels that they matter.

People are much happier when they know that coming to work every day has a genuine impact on the success of the company. When employees know they are making a real difference, it gives them the motivation to continuously learn and grow.

The key is to provide context into how the work employees are doing on a day-to-day basis helps the business achieve its wider goals, as well as delivering the training and development opportunities to help them succeed.


About the author

Steve Wainwright is managing director, EMEA, at Skillsoft


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