Walk down any city block, and chances are high you’ll see at least one person looking down at their phone. In fact, it’s a certainty.

Technology has changed how we live, how we learn, and how we gather and consume information. As companies continue to develop and release new innovations in consumer technology, human behavior will evolve alongside. 

Take how people inform themselves today: instead of consuming information over long periods of time from one source, people now seek out bite-sized hits of information from multiple sources.

With all these innovations, we’re fortunate to have a wealth of tools and resources at our fingertips: social media, smart phones, on-demand services, IoT and smart technology, driverless cars, to virtual reality and advancements in data and analytics.

Workplace Learning Stalls

Yet, sadly our workplaces lag behind area in their willingness to embrace innovations, remaining bogged down by outdated processes and procedures, with some industries being worse offenders than others. 

The future of learning in the workplace has changed, but the majority of companies haven’t even noticed.

Properly training employees on products and developing employee knowledge takes time and effort. 

Everyone has been the new employee at some point in their career. You probably spent the first two weeks or so receiving training, accustoming yourself to the ins-and-outs of your new role. And down the line, you might have asked to go for re-training or to take an online course, or courses. 

But what happens after that? Does learning stop in its tracks after those courses are complete? 

While the actual training course technically is, development is an ongoing, constant, complex process — not as simple, clear-cut or ideal as many expect.

Take the hospitality industry as an example. When a restaurant hires new management staff, they need to know the most current health codes. 

The same goes for lawyers keeping up to date on current laws, accountants, doctors, and so on. If their company sells products, they're required to know the products intimately so they can communicate their benefits to clients, customers, partners or resellers.

Limiting Learning to Two Week Increments

The era of devoting the first two weeks to training is over. It’s evolving, and has been without companies paying real close attention to it. 

Companies may think training for two weeks saves time and effort, but it’s the opposite. It’s inefficient, potentially creating bad habits and is too structured. 

Businesses can't predict when learning takes place — and it doesn't always occur all at once. The most successful learning, training and development happens in stages. You can develop employees throughout the day or even week in streams, without being interrupted from their workflow, adding maximum flexibility to you and them.

Employees are happy to learn if its done in the right way — taught within the context of the job, relevant to the work at hand and retained because it is learned through actions.

The Difference? Fear of Change

Why hasn’t the workplace embraced the digital age as quickly as other areas of our lives? 

Simple. Fear of change. 

As consumers, we look at the latest technology, gadgets and innovations and think “Cool!” As employees, we look at minor changes in our workday routine and cringe. We are by nature creatures of habit.

Today’s workplace should run like a well-oiled machine. More Tesla than Datsun. Use the resources at your disposal to their fullest capacity. 

Taking online courses should only be a portion of a full-fledged program. Invest beyond the status quo.

Utilize your mobile platforms. Set up the company for success by doing the same for employees. Use online courses with project management software, find ways to communicate in real-time, use mobile devices: build your own internal learning ecosystem.

This approach provides the best opportunity for real, true learning to take shape: Not in preplanned regimented times, but in the moment, in these mini bite-sized types of information. 

How we train and develop employees is fractured, yet the resources are available to build a more stable foundation for learning.

Title image Dawid MaƂecki