Can digitally-enabled learning improve workplace productivity? Absolutely. If business needs are aligned with what we want from our jobs (our intrinsic motivation), then our productivity flourishes.
What do we want from our jobs? There are a host of job satisfaction surveys and articles which cover the statistics. Besides compensation and benefits, topping the requirements list are freedom, respect, appreciation, information, the opportunity to advance, tools, community, safety, and work/life balance.
Digitally-enabled learning can contribute to workplace productivity and job satisfaction and fit into your overall workplace productivity strategy. Find ways to keep employees focused when using technology, and to use technology appropriately with the specific goal of addressing organizational needs. And consider these six ways to make the connection between productivity and job satisfaction. (Note, for a discussion on digitally-enabled learning versus digitally-enhanced learning, please see "7 Digitally-Enabled Learning Techniques Scrutinized and Categorized".)
1. Improve Communication
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Communication, community, relationships, feedback, reduction of daily hassles, organizational support, knowledge)
Online training courses can be shared across multiple-geographical locations, expanding a company’s global reach while reducing expenditures. Physical distance between workgroups can also be bridged; bringing people in separate offices closer, improving relationships, and dismantling artificial silos. Project completion rates can increase with improved communication and collaboration. Digitally-enabled learning enables content curation, and increasing and preserving the corporate knowledge base.
2. Be Free
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Freedom, autonomy, trust, work-life balance)
For learners, device agnostic training allows people to learn where they want, when they want, and on their device of choice. With social media integration, anyone can ask questions, comment, and contribute to the conversation. Content designed for microlearning and other proven learner-led instructional techniques removes the command-and-control aspects of traditional training.
Equally important, digitally-enabled learning provides freedom for the facilitator and/or course designer, too. He or she can deliver training without traveling, can reach a larger audience without being physically present during training, and can exert greater control and flexibility over his or her own daily schedule.
3. Let the Experts Shine
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Trust, respect, recognition, achievement, communication, community, relationships, organizational support)
Subject matter experts, industry leaders, and managers can easily contribute content for training modules without having to know details of the online training technologies or adult learning principles. Therefore, employees can easily lend their expertise, contributing to organizational knowledge management and retention. Social technologies also make it easy for the experts to “plug in” to the learning conversation without disrupting their own workflow by having to travel (across the office or across the globe.)
4. Gain Knowledge and Skills
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Job security, opportunities to advance, achievement)
The LMS market is well over $2.5 billion dollars and grew over 21% this year. Recent growth is attributed to a targeted focus on reskilling employees to address the “skills gap”, the ubiquity of learning content, advances in learning technology, and a growing need for supporting global learning needs—all of which are aided by LMS’s and digitally-enabled learning.
5. Automate Processes
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Information access, tools, reduction of daily hassles)
Digitally-enabled learning technologies often have the ability to capture large amounts of data across multiple business units within an organization, and the data capture is often coupled with embedded reporting capabilities. These features reduce manual time spent gathering information and composing unwieldy spreadsheets, since data can be easily accessed anytime and anywhere through the cloud.
6. Save Time and Resources
(Employee Needs Satisfied: Trust, autonomy, control, freedom, flexibility, respect, work/life balance)
Online training saves time in a myriad of ways. During face-to-face training, time needs to be allocated for breaks, meals, snacks, commute and/or travel, transitions, and late arrivals—despite whether every single attendee needs that time. With online training, breaks are at the discretion of the learner. During face-to-face training, there are always attendees who seem to have a “work emergency” that requires them to step out of the training or to attend to email and phone calls, or someone who is tired and did not sleep well the previous night—they miss in-class training time (physically and/or mentally) that cannot easily be regained. Online training programs allow for learner-controlled breaks and individual control of time and pace.
Physical resources are saved with online training (e.g., paper, office supplies, office space which would otherwise be dedicated to training meetings or to bring all employees into one location). Travel expenses are reduced. Travel and lodging expenses related to bringing a facilitator on-site are saved. And people “resources” (I personally dislike the term “resources” applied to people, as it dehumanizes us, but it’s a commonly used term) are maximized by respecting their time.
What's the Bottom Line?
To ensure that you truly are tying business needs to your learners’ productivity and job satisfaction requirements, poll employees to find the workplace inefficiencies they identify, get them to offer solutions via learning, and offer that learning to them on their terms. If you do it right, you’ll have them hooked to your online training program and you’ll positively affect your company’s bottom line.
How has your company’s productivity increased through digitally-enabled learning? And, did you witness a link between productivity and employee satisfaction?
Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+