By Phil Antonelli

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, once said: “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Phil Antonelli

“Simply reading articles and viewing videos won’t always achieve desired results for your business.” – Phil Antonelli, Director, Business Strategy and Innovation

He’s absolutely right. Businesses around the world are always looking to define their competitive advantage. I believe a company’s ability to stay competitive and be an industry leader ties directly to their learning leaders’ ability to continually produce better and more effective learning initiatives. When you are able to arm your employees with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their job – and do it in an innovative and experiential way – it translates to more engaged and committed employees, a culture of continuous learning and, ultimately, a boost to the bottom line.

At Xerox, we recognized the need to provide a comprehensive learning ecosystem that inspires our global workforce to engage, connect and grow on a daily basis. This led us to create Xerox Services University, a learning system that builds expertise and fuels career growth; we offer content in a variety of ways for every type of learner. We’ve seen great success with the program, including national recognition through two 2016 Brandon Hall Group Human Capital Management Excellence Awards – one for Best Advance in Learning Technology Implementation and one for Best Use of Social Collaborative Learning.

A successful learning program enables employees to apply their newly-gained knowledge directly to their job. In other words, content should be crafted to transfer knowledge. It sounds obvious and simple, but that’s increasingly challenging in an age where employees are only a few keystrokes away from a Google search for information they need. However, simply reading articles and viewing videos won’t always achieve desired results for your business.

6 insights to an award-winning learning program

So what should you keep in mind when creating a learning program at your company? Let me share some insight with you:

  • Set program goals: How often would you like your employees to engage in learning? Is it a monthly, weekly or daily habit that you’d like them to form? Focus on providing learning experiences that not only engage employees, but also create habits of learning.
  • Address organizational culture: Too often, learning is deemed secondary to completing the work itself; one is more conventionally tied to business results. If you want business results to change or improve, encourage and provide time for employees to innovate, get creative and pursue individual development.
  • Provide a unified point of access to ease search for learning content: Developing learning habits is easier when content can be found easily. Therefore, learning content should be programmed into a single platform with a dedicated point of entry. Having the corporate learning program in one place is key for continuous learning. This includes videos and articles, virtual learning events, and internal social networks that allow colleagues to exchange ideas. This gives employees the freedom to learn at their own pace, in their own time and with the experience that best resonates with their learning style. Employees should be equipped with specific steps on how they can begin accessing and searching the learning platform – this is step one in forming the learning habit.
  • Personalize the experience: Not all employees learn the same way, nor do they have the same learning needs. Companies should incorporate analytics in their learning platforms to track and learn what type of content employees gravitate to. This helps better recommend content that matches employees’ interests.
  • Incorporate proof of learning into your program: A learning program should provide opportunities for reflection and collaboration. This helps employees “consume” their learning, rather than merely completing a series of learning activities. Reflection and collaboration encourages them to take notes on what they learn, think through how they can apply the knowledge to their unique situation, and share their challenges and successes with colleagues.
  • Curate some content: You shouldn’t expect to create all your learning materials from scratch. Set up areas within your platform that feature curated collections of materials from external sources that give employees deeper insights on topics of interest.

Encouraging people to take time out of a busy work day to learn and invest in their career and themselves seems like a difficult task, but it is not impossible if you can equip them with a program that is easy to access, offers interesting material, and allows for a personalized yet collaborative experience.

What other features would you look to include in your learning program?