It will come as no surprise that cable and satellite TV subscriptions have plummeted in the last few years, or that sales of fitness apps and wearables are up. We don’t want to consume the same old content or follow generic plans; we want experiences that are personalized to our needs and preferences so we can get the most out of them.
Corporate learning and development is no different. Everyone is too busy to sit through one-size-fits-none training at work. Fortunately, most talent developers agree that personalized workplace learning is far more beneficial for employee development than traditional corporate training that teaches every employee the same thing, the same way, at the same time.
While most people know on an intuitive level what “personalized learning” means and why they like it, they might be hard pressed to put it into words. In this post, we will define the term and talk about why personalized learning is the gold standard for workplace learning and development.
What Is Personalized Learning?
Simply put, personalized learning means supporting the needs, abilities and goals of each individual through customized learning and development pathways. Personalized learning accounts for each person’s learning objectives and preferences for content and delivery methods, making it engaging, effective and efficient. This approach has benefits both for individual learners and for the organization.
Why Is Personalized Learning Important in the Workplace?
It’s well established that employees want to work for organizations that invest in their skills and career development, but multiday training sessions with a binder of canned content that will sit on shelves and collect dust aren’t valuable to anyone. Individuals want learning opportunities that are relevant, and organizations want value for their investments in corporate training. Personalized learning achieves both.
Benefits for Individuals
People like personalized learning and are more likely to benefit from training when they enjoy it. But why they like personalized learning comes down to some principles of adult learning that are directly addressed by personalizing learning experiences. Adult learners enthusiastically engage with learning opportunities that are:
- personally meaningful and relevant
- tailored to account for existing knowledge and experience
- practical and problem-centered
Here are three ways personalized learning applies these principles.
1. Personalized Learning Gives Employees a Say in Their Learning and Development
Your employees know what skills and knowledge they need to do their jobs well, and they know what their aspirations and interests are. When given the choice, people will choose learning opportunities that are relevant and meaningful, and as a result, they will be engaged with and even excited about their training. Personalized learning enables individuals to work on the skills that are most relevant and applicable to their work and career development goals.
2. Personalized Learning Accounts for Prior Knowledge and Experience
The wealth of knowledge, skills and experience that your employees bring to learning programs can be a big asset to the overall learning environment. People can learn as much from each other as from the course if their experiences are shared and the course administrator takes the role of a facilitator rather than an instructor. Personalized learning experiences allow flexibility to incorporate the perspectives of the learners and adjust to the existing knowledge they have.
3. Personalized Learning Is Timely and Practical
When employees participate in corporate training programs, they’re taking time from other personal and professional commitments. That’s why they want training that’s practical and delivered at the point of need. Personalized learning experiences can equip learners to tackle problems, letting them practice skills and apply knowledge to realistic situations and problems in a setting where it’s safe to take risks and experience setbacks. As a result, they can confidently apply what they learn to their jobs.
Benefits for Organizations
Training Industry estimates that globally, organizations spent over US$357 billion on training initiatives in 2020, showing that company leaders understand the importance of investing in employee development. But surveys also show that many organizations are missing the mark. For example, Gartner reported that 70% of respondents to a survey of 6,000 workers said they don’t feel they have the skills they need to do their jobs well.
Personalized learning and development pathways have several benefits for organizations looking to get a good return on their training investments. Personalized learning is:
- Efficient: When training is relevant, timely and tailored to each person’s starting point, no one is wasting valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere.
- Effective: When learners get what they need right when they need it, they can apply their learning immediately and avoid the forgetting curve.
- Engaging: When employees find learning engaging, it nurtures a growth mindset and helps build a learning culture throughout the organization.
As a corporate training strategy, personalized learning has another benefit that can’t be overstated: It can help organizations future-proof their workforces.
Personalized learning is a game in which everyone wins. Employees benefit from career advancement opportunities that are hyper-relevant to their goals, and employers don’t have to look outside the organization for skills they can easily develop internally. In collaborating with employees to carve out individualized learning pathways, organizations can make full use of the talent and potential that exist within and close skill gaps.
Karen Karnis has a BA in sociology from the University of Guelph. She has worked in social services, higher education, communications and journalism. Karen is currently working toward a Master of Education in Sustainability, Creativity and Innovation through Cape Breton University.
Stay in the know
Educators and training pros get our insights, tips, and best practices delivered monthly