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Earlier this year, when we were in the inception stages of our products, we undertook some market research with OnePoll to better understand learner sentiment and truly understand what it is they desire. We wanted to know what the learner experience is really like. You may ask yourself why we bothered to undertake this survey at all – there’s loads of research out there already, right?

Well, no, not really.

In just the past year alone, we’ve observed mountains of research undertaken to identify the challenges L&D are experiencing. The likes of Fosway, Towards Maturity and the Learning and Performance Institute have all done ample research on the sentiment and problems of L&D as a function. Skills shortages, shrinking budgets, digital transformation and shifting learner sentiment are all cited as common problems. These are well known and well documented.

What do your learners want?

But that still leaves a huge question: “What kind of experiences do your learners want? What challenges do they have?” Do we have any idea what problems our learners have with the learning they receive or indeed how they feel about the experiences they are having?

The answer is probably, sadly, no.

Following from market research and a survey of employees from across the country, we’ve taken the time to really understand what your learners think about training. The result is our 2018 Learner Engagement Report; because their voices deserve to be heard too. After all, L&D’s primary focus is always on the learner, right? So why is our focus always on solving L&D’s problems, rather than the learners?

Data doesn’t lie – and it’s something we hold in extremely high regard here at Thrive. We’ve used this data extensively to inform the direction and scope of the products we’re building, ensuring that it aligns to what people actually want and expect from learning. Data was the only way to do that.

Because, let’s be honest. These days, gut instinct just isn’t enough. The world has changed so much, so quickly, that our intuition and natural assumptions are rarely accurate. We all know that well-known phrase about assuming – and truthfully, it’s never been more relevant. It’s 2018. We need to rely on facts and data to help us remain constantly informed, up-to-date and aware of what our learners want and need. No longer should we be acting on some whimsy we had on an errant Tuesday around the water cooler (are water coolers still a thing?).

Recent research suggests that 73% of organisations who adopt a data-driven approach across the entire business said they have already received measurable value from these initiatives. It’s high time we do more to better understand our learners; it’s the first step in delivering better standards of training and an improvement to their overall learning experience. And judging by the results of our survey – a lot of us would do well to focus on that.

So, what’s going on?

In the past decade, L&D has worked extremely hard to better align workplace learning experiences with the digital experiences learners have outside of work. The corporate learning market, currently valued at over $130 billion, has witnessed the evolution of learning needs that far surpass what traditional learning approaches and systems have to offer. These days, businesses are trying to offer a digitally enabled learning experience which supports and promotes a social, collaborative and interactive learning environment with outdated tech, legacy approaches and irrelevant systems.

And, according to our research, it’s just not working.

Our current learner experience

We’ve got to be honest. It’s a pretty mixed bag out there. The performance amongst businesses when it comes to employee engagement and meeting expectations is highly varied. It’s staggering to see such sweeping variations in performance, but it’s probably also to be expected. Age demographics, IT infrastructures and leadership are just a handful of the huge variables affecting a business’ ability to deliver learning which is aligned to learner expectations.

Our survey gave us some fascinating insight into the attitudes that learners have about training in a workplace environment, but has also allowed us to glean how the learner experience correlates with sentiments of trust, job satisfaction and even overall sense of connectivity to the business.

Training still needed for many

Although assumed, it’s actually not true that every business trains their staff. Believe it or not, we were staggered when we learned that 16% of our respondents said that they do not receive any training from their employer. Here we are talking about sophisticated social learning, artificial intelligence and personalisation and some businesses don’t even have classroom training.

A broad range of training mediums may well be on offer at work, but according to our research we’ve found that many are still failing to offer adequate training to their people. 36% of employees said to us that they feel they need further training for their current role. Could it be that a breadth of training is offered but it’s ineffective? Or rather that many just aren’t delivering adequate training to their people?

How businesses prefer to train employees

Modern learning experiences and technology are still not quite as ubiquitous as we think. In fact, it appears that good old classroom training is still a staple for many businesses, with over 55% of learners saying they receive it. It was the most common training mode for those surveyed, closely followed by elearning, with 53% of respondents undertaking it.

Thrive Learning - Learner Experience Report Graph 1

Video learning becoming a reality for many

We found it interesting that video learning had a presence in many training strategies; nearly one quarter of businesses (23%) now use it. Perhaps video learning is no longer a novel idea for L&D; it’s being used and taken seriously by many, according to our research.

Video has surged in popularity over the last decade. According to Cisco, video will comprise a whopping 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. Not only this, but video has also become an indispensable tool for a variety of use cases in just about any type of business. In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of this year, 75% of workers at large businesses will interact with various kinds of video more than three times daily.

Video makes training material easier for people to consume and remember. It’s easier to use, cheap to create (especially if you are using user generated content too) and much more effective at keeping your learners’ attention. It’s no surprise why it’s rising in popularity.

This is just a brief glimpse into how learners are currently learning at work. It looks alright from here, ‘modern’ experiences being offered in the guise of elearning, digital documents and video training (in spite of our obvious proclivity for classroom training aside). But is that what your employees want? Is that how they’d really choose to learn, if they had the choice?

The problem is, they don’t have the choice and our research suggests that learners are contending with some huge challenges in the workplace which are stymying their ability to access, engage with and indeed learn from training content. Their learner experience is completely different to what they want and expect, and it’s causing real problems for them.

Want to find out what those problems are? This article is an excerpt from our 2018 Learner Engagement Report, download it today to learn more about what your teams really want.

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