Keeping employees engaged and interested in their learning is key for workplace learning initiatives to be effective. However, with the shift to ever more digital workplaces, digital learning fatigue is becoming a common feeling for those facing the firehose of online learning. In light of the challenges posed by digital learning fatigues, what can organisations do to help keep their online learners engaged and attentive?
Digital learning is ubiquitous.
If you’re a global corporation, chances are large proportions of your onboarding, upskilling, compliance and other training courses are all conducted online.
And it’s likely that during the COVID-19 pandemic, online courses proliferated to help meet the needs of at-home and remote workers.
But this prevalence of digital training — the “firehose” approach that cascades learning onto employees — places considerable onus on people to remain engaged and attentive to ever-growing volumes of material.
And it’s becoming too much.
Learning fatigue sets in when employees become exhausted by excessive exposure to digital devices and technology for learning. This can be compounded by job demands, adapting to new modes of working and uncertain futures.
So, what can be done?
Progressive companies recognize the value of their people and already have strong initiatives in place to support a learning culture.
“We need to provide our people the space and time to develop,” says Aaron Singson, global learning leader at Deloitte. Providing people with protected time to learn is becoming a corporate value, an imperative that is recognized as essential if they want to remain competitive.
But shifting mindsets is also a high priority. “Nowadays, people will take something we developed and supplement it with their own investigation of podcasts on that topic,” explains Geoff Brockway, head of learning and development (L&D) and oncology research and development at AstraZeneca.
L&D professionals are vocal about the fact that they may not have all the answers, and enormous expertise and knowledge reside in the colleagues themselves.
“If we can create this kind of motivation, then I think you start to change mindset, culture and you get people to be more engaged,” continues Brockway.
Placing the power to learn in the hands of employees isn’t new. But what is new are the tools, platforms and moments that make it easier for people to share what they know.
Beth Chudley, learning experience consultant at Sponge outlined the importance of self-efficacy, asking, “Are we providing people with the right tools to allow people to identify the skills they need for the future?
“Something we’re seeing a lot more is how social learning enables upskilling and reskilling. We’re now using digital learning as an enabler to building those social connections.”
These companies are prioritizing social learning opportunities that pave the way for people to connect globally, and they’re scaling this across an employee base of 100,000-plus.
A creator-centric, socially connected organization embraces and encourages user content to augment more formal approaches. This helps overcome fatigue by focusing on people’s intrinsic motivation and flourishing connections.
There are several effective approaches to examining and adjusting your content to help combat digital learning fatigue:
- Keeping content short and delivered at the point of need is important, but relevance is critical.
- Examining training’s relevancy — how employee groups are connected to training courses is vital for ensuring people get what they want and need, and it reinforces a strong learning culture where they feel heard.
- Personalization is another positive way to overcome fatigue. Allow people to direct their own development and self-select content based on their interest, ability, knowledge, role, responsibility or performance.
- To enhance engagement, leading companies are also exploring immersive learning. From rich scenarios, branching and gamification, to virtual reality solutions that provide real-time, personalized feedback on performance, immersive approaches are adding considerable value through their ability to boost confidence in real-life situations.
Growing the Passion for Learning
Though digital learning continues to feature highly in employee life, the L&D leaders that are committed to tackling learning fatigue are completely focused on igniting the intrinsic desire to learn.
Through democratizing creation, involving learners within the design process, and supporting learning approaches that knit people together across platforms socially, they’re fueling an authentic and contagious love of learning, that leads to self-motivated contributors.