How learning
can provide a competitive edge

Todd Turner


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Learning has been through an evolution in recent years, due to the changing demands of the workforce in the digital age. Now more than ever, organisations are feeling the impact learning can have upon business growth when goals are set holistically and L&D aims are aligned with organisational outcomes.

Still, if there is one thing which defines the digital age it is the need to respond quickly to changes in markets, the workplace and society in general. Fortunately, the best modern learning solutions are agile, flexible and adaptable enough to allow businesses to move more quickly than their competition. So, what steps should organisations be taking?

Define success and consider barriers

Every decision within business must have a purpose, and learning is no different. The first step organisations must take is to understand how they will measure the success of learning experiences, selecting which outcomes are most important to them. Only by connecting learning goals to organisational outcomes, will businesses gain a competitive edge, so this must be carefully considered from the off.

Organisations must also think about the challenges that employees face in their roles, including any barriers to learning and engagement. Learning experiences must strike a balance between satisfying the individual’s personal development, and supporting the growth and success of the organisation and so careful, equal thought must be applied to both parties.

Create and communicate a vision

In order for learning experiences to have the desired impact, learners must be excited to take part. Organisations must clearly communicate the benefits of the learning to employees, demonstrating the value this will bring to both the business and the individual. This means satisfying the “why” of the matter; ensuring workers understand the purpose of each element of the learning experiences.

Organisations must also explain the “how” – how will employees access learning, support and materials? Learning that takes place within the flow of work makes it easier for employees to engage with the content, and businesses must ensure learning is clearly signposted for workers.


Consider the overall blended experience

Once employees are engaged with the idea of learning, organisations must ensure that they are engaged with the learning programme itself. Businesses should consider a range of learning elements within the experience, including bitesize online resources, like video, animations, ebooks, infographics, quizzes, and other on-demand support, as well as face-to-face and virtual sessions, coaching and mentoring. When creating the mix, organisations must ensure that each of the elements and the combination are chosen to best deliver the desired outcome. Offering different learning approaches is the first step, but it is the proper and engaging delivery of these elements and the overall experience that will give organisations a competitive edge.

As well as meeting the needs of the individual, the learning experiences must align with the goals set out by the organisation. Do each of the elements add up to the performance support and organisational capability which will lead to business advantage? Here, again, it is about finding the balance between employee and employer. Great learning experiences are fantastic for individual development, but they must also help engage employees behind the goals of the business to promote wider business growth.

Evaluate and evolve

The metrics set out at the beginning enable organisations to judge success. Real-time monitoring of the metrics and these goals will allow organisations to adapt and adjust solutions while they are in motion. Modern learning programmes are responsive and agile enough to allow organisations to work in the same way, enabling businesses to understand and act on relevant data in a timely, effective and impactful way.

Learning itself is evolving and now provides improved performance support and engagement to teams and the business. As organisations begin to realise the benefits of aligning L&D goals with desired business outcomes, they are reaping the rewards. Organisations can ensure they are always one step ahead by moving more quickly than their competition – but only if they create or choose an agile, adaptable and engaging plan for learning - made up of the right content, an engaging platform and flexible support services that can be deployed and refined at pace.


For further insight into these six trait pairings that leaders require in the modern working environment, please view the full guide Leadership in the Digital Age – A Careful Balancing Act on

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