Nunatakeer Lena Sperfeld interviewing Sylvian Newton, an expert in learning and leadership development.

How is corporate life changing? 

Over the past few years, the way we work and learn has transformed dramatically, though three specific changes have significantly impacted the learning industry:

  1. The rise of technology plays a key role, particularly in scaling learning across the organization. Additionally, the experience of digital learning has significantly improved.
  2. In recent years, there has been an incredible push for building capabilities. This means not only driving skill building but also matching it with job qualifications and staffing of roles.
  3. At the same time, what we have learnt about customer experience is transferring to designing an outstanding employee experience. Employees are more demanding than ever; work-life balance, corporate benefits and learning play a big part in their decision making.

These changes have started to shift the priorities of the learning function and with them the practice of learning: companies are designing learning ecosystems, often doing so by leveraging a LXP and transforming their learning culture, for example through the distribution of personalized learning offers.

What do you mean by personalized learning life cycles? 

Every person is different, that is why every person needs a learning experience that is tailored to her or himself and in the best case, changes over the lifetime a person spends with one company. So a personalized learning life cycle is a tailored learning program that adapts to the changes a person goes through while being employed by one company.

How can companies facilitate such a learning experience?

Companies can identify their employees’ needs for example by using “moments of truth”. Moments of truth are defining moments for employees as they represent key transition times. For example joining the company for their first job, having a promotion or returning from maternity or paternity leave. At those times they will have specific needs (for example different to someone who is being sent abroad or someone taking on a new role after 10 years within the company). When you can identify that moment, it is much easier to anticipate what he or she needs and act accordingly.

What are the barriers to learning life cycles?

What sounds nice in theory often fails in practice. Due to the lack of data or legacy systems, I have seen companies with over 100 HR systems (including up to 25 LMS systems). Often those systems do not interact with each other and therefore the data on which to base your learning intervention is not available. You first need to consolidate those data sources. As a next step you need to find out what your employees need in those moments of truth (through a survey, interviews..). Companies often do so when an employee leaves (“exit interviews”). While those are interesting, they take place too late in the process. What if companies would instead conduct “stay interviews”? Trying to find out what people need to remain engaged and challenged. With this they would better find out what is needed to design jobs and experiences that energize their employees.

What advice would you give companies to get started? 

Pick specific “moments of truth”, e.g., onboarding, promotion, parental leave, department changes, etc., and start collecting data on them to gain a better understanding of your employees’ needs and then be able to offer them the right learning accordingly. Start seeing employees as a customer, whose needs matter as much as those of the actual customer. Also, leverage the technologies you already have, integrate an LXP platform and concurrently work on building a thriving learning culture!