How to Make Your Corporate Learning Relevant? And Why It Matters

One of the bigger problems hindering the impactfulness of corporate learning is not lack quality content or great delivery methods but relevance. Employees often see the corporate just assigning them new training, with little consideration to whether it actually helps them or not. Furthermore, many organisations still do employ a one-size-fits-all type of approach to learning, which is setting up for failure. However, many are realising that providing employees with relevant learning opportunities is crucial. Thus, let’s look at firstly why relevance matters in learning, and then how we can deliver something that truly resonates with the audience.

Why relevance matters in corporate learning?

Relevant learning is crucial for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s the way our brains work from learning standpoint. Relevant and meaningful activities that resonate emotionally and connect to existing knowledge help form new neural connections and pathways and build long-term memory storage.

Secondly, it’s a matter of engagement as well. Learners that don’t “connect” with the topic or material are much more likely to disengage, resulting in low retention. Furthermore, they might even lose the motivation to try (and it’s harder to win them back afterwards).

Thirdly, relevant learning is important because the fundamental goal of corporate learning is not just to acquire knowledge, but to transfer it into new work practices and behaviours. And change is hard. If we want to elicit behavioural change, we have to address the specific situations and challenges of the employees, rather than simply providing facts and information and leaving them to figure out the hardest part themselves.

How to deliver relevant learning?

So, how could we deliver learning experiences, whether online or face-to-face, that overcome the challenges above? Much of it deals with personalising learning. While that’s another article’s worth on its own, we thought we’d pick a few fundamental things that are easily forgotten.

  • Go learner-centric: designing and developing your learning experiences in a more learner-centric way helps to tackle a lot of the challenges. Spend time listening to your learners, their challenges, problems, contexts and situations. Involve them in the process as much as possible. Don’t deliver “content”, deliver relevant learning experiences that help them succeed.
  • Create scaffolding. Use the information and data you gain from your learner-centric design process to create scaffolding. Relate what is being learnt to the learners’ previous knowledge, learning history, professional experience, job functions, market areas etc.
  • Keep it fresh: remember to revise and update your activities regularly. The subject matter doesn’t necessarily change, but the context will constantly. Keep your examples, scenarios and cases current, which in turn helps in the scaffolding.

Does technology play a part in this?

One of the bigger promises of today’s and tomorrow’s learning technology is the ability to deliver more personalised learning everyone. While tools like AI are still relatively new in the learning and education space, there’s already quite a lot of good that can be done today.

At the very least, the new abilities to collect learning data and determine real learning needs help to fuel the learner-centric design process. Increasingly many learning environments also use algorithms to recommend relevant learning content and personalise the experience. Some more advanced ones venture into adaptive learning, where the individual learning path shifts based on a number of factors.

But even if you don’t have access to such tools or resources to buy into such technologies, don’t worry. Fundamentally, it’s all about doing the simple things right, and spending time to figure out the real needs. One thing that gets you pretty far: talk to your people!

Final words

Overall, relevance seems like a much undervalued factor in learning. However, the science and research is pretty clear: you need relevant learning to get results. In the corporate world, that’s even more evident, as studies have shown that people learn the new, but still easily revert back to the old ways of doing things. So, consider starting to help your employees and learners succeed by focusing on what helps them. And if you need help in going learner-centric, or leveraging technology to design more relevant experiences, we can help. Just drop us a note here.

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