Workflow Learning Strategies: Navigating the Future of On-the-Job Training

In the dynamic hybrid workplace, traditional training experiences can often fall short. Enter workflow learning, a revolutionary approach that integrates learning directly into the daily tasks and operations of a job. Unlike classroom training, which often requires separate sessions and can be time-consuming, workflow learning offers real-time, on-the-spot training. This ‘learning in the workflow’ ensures that employees get the knowledge they need exactly when they need it, bridging any previous knowledge gaps. The correct workflow learning strategies can help your team remain agile and competitive in the ever-changing landscape of modern business.
Workflow Learning Strategies
Picture of Matleena Salminen
Matleena Salminen
Matleena is a Content Writer at ClickLearn with 5+ years of experience in writing about emerging technology, AI, and digital marketing.

What is workflow learning?

Workflow learning is the convergence of training and onboarding. In essence, if you can’t integrate your training within the flow of work, you’re likely falling behind compared to your competitors.

One significant reason for this shift is the overwhelming number of applications in enterprises. On average, users grapple with over 170 apps, each having about 4 releases annually. This leaves little time for employees to adjust, making traditional training methods less effective and downright overwhelming.

Another driving factor is the rise of the composable enterprise. More businesses are adopting best-of-breed, small, specific-purpose apps, making each enterprise unique. This trend is expected to grow, marking a paradigm shift in learning and training methodologies.

The five moments of need in workflow learning

Based on the work of Bob Mosher, workflow learning revolves around the ‘five moments of need’. This concept emphasizes the importance of learning in the flow of work, rather than through traditional learning experiences.

In the context of training, workflow learning starts with onboarding, ensuring new hires are equipped with the necessary new skills and knowledge to execute their daily tasks. However, the learning process doesn’t stop after onboarding is complete. The focus then shifts to performance support, enabling employees to continually refine their skills and address challenges in real-time.

This performance support is crucial, allowing employees to delve deeper, understand complex processes, and accomplish tasks that might otherwise be beyond their current skill set. By taking an active role in supporting the professional development of employees, organizations can improve turnover rates and keep their workforce more motivated and happier.

Why workflow learning is essential

The modern workplace is evolving rapidly. With the rise of digital tools and the constant demand for upskilling, employees can no longer rely solely on formal training sessions. Workflow learning differs from traditional methods by providing continuous learning opportunities seamlessly integrated into an employee’s flow of work. This not only enhances skills development but also ensures that businesses remain competitive and agile.

The importance of learning in the flow of work

Learning in the flow of work is a necessity for an organization to retain top talent and increase its bottom line. With the rapid pace of technological advancements and the ever-evolving nature of job roles, employees need to be in a constant state of learning. 

This continuous learning helps employees bridge knowledge gaps, adapt to unexpected changes, and stay ahead of the curve. Workflow learning ensures that they’re not just gaining theoretical knowledge but are applying what they learn in real-time, leading to improved performance and productivity.

Key elements of workflow learning

Workflow learning is a multifaceted approach that seamlessly integrates training into an employee’s daily tasks and operations. While its implementation can vary across organizations, certain foundational elements are universally recognized as critical to its success:

  • Real-time learning opportunities: Workflow learning provides employees with immediate access to learning resources as challenges arise. This real-time approach ensures that employees can tackle problems head-on, armed with the latest information and best practices.
  • Integration within the flow of work: Learning is not an additional task but is integrated seamlessly into daily operations and core tasks, making it a natural and organic part of the job.
  • Mobile devices and digital tools: The modern workplace is increasingly mobile and digital. Workflow learning leverages this trend, offering training resources that are accessible on a range of devices, from smartphones to tablets. This ensures that even remote or traveling employees have access to the same learning assets.
  • Personalized learning experiences: Not all employees learn in the same way or at the same pace. Workflow learning recognizes this, offering personalized training experiences that cater to individual needs, strengths, and learning styles.

6 best workflow learning strategies

Implementing workflow learning requires a shift in mindset and approach. It’s not just about integrating learning into daily tasks but ensuring that this learning is effective, timely, and relevant. Some effective strategies include:

1. Scenario-based learning

Real-world scenarios provide context and relevance, helping employees understand the practical applications of the formal learning processes. 

For example, for a customer service team, you could create simulations where they handle various customer complaints, from easy to complex. This allows the employees to practice their responses in a risk-free environment.

Remember to ensure that the training scenarios are diverse and cover a broad spectrum of potential challenges employees might face.

2. Performance support tools

These tools provide real-time assistance and resources, helping employees tackle challenges as they arise. 

From digital manuals to interactive guides, performance support tools ensure that employees have the resources they need at their fingertips. Regularly update these tools and the related documentation to reflect changes in software or processes, ensuring they always offer accurate guidance.

For best results, consider implementing a Digital Adoption Platform that offers in-app guidance, allowing employees to navigate new software without leaving the application.

3. Mentoring and coaching programs

There’s no substitute for experience. By pairing new hires with seasoned professionals, mentoring and coaching programs offer hands-on, practical training that’s grounded in real-world experience.

For instance, a junior developer can be paired with a senior developer to review code, discuss best practices, and work on projects together.

For best results, ensure mentors are trained in effective coaching techniques and are given the time and resources to support their mentees.

4. Microlearning modules

Break down complex topics into bite-sized learning modules that employees can consume in short bursts. 

Instead of a 2-hour training on cybersecurity, create a series of 5-minute videos on specific topics like password security, phishing threats, and so on. Make these modules easily accessible, so employees can revisit them whenever needed.

5. Feedback-driven learning

Regularly gather feedback from employees about their learning experiences and use this feedback to refine and improve training materials. For instance, after a training session, use surveys or focus groups to understand what worked and what didn’t.

Also, remember to act on the feedback received. If multiple employees highlight a particular issue, prioritize addressing it.

6. Integrate learning into daily tools

Use the tools employees work with daily as platforms for learning. For instance, if employees use a tool like Slack for communication, integrate learning modules or resources into Slack channels.

Ensure that integrating learning doesn’t disrupt the primary function of the tool. It should enhance, not hinder, the user experience, in order to have an actual measurable impact on daily operations.

Man In An Office By A Window

Workflow learning helps to combine onboarding and professional development into a dynamic and holistic way of learning.

5 best practices for efficient workflow learning

To maximize the benefits of workflow learning, organizations should:

1. Foster a culture that values continuous learning

This goes beyond just providing resources. It’s about creating an environment where learning is encouraged, celebrated, and rewarded. Encouraging an open, ‘no stupid questions’ atmosphere means employees have a lower threshold to ask questions and share their knowledge with one another.

2. Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing among employees

Workflow learning is most effective when employees can learn from each other. Creating platforms or forums where they can share insights, challenges, and solutions can be incredibly beneficial.

3. Use data and analytics to refine and improve training programs

By tracking the effectiveness of workflow learning initiatives, organizations can identify areas of improvement and refine their strategies accordingly.

4. Regularly assess and update materials

The business world is constantly evolving, and training materials must reflect that. Regular updates ensure that employees are always equipped with the latest knowledge and best practices.

5. Implement a Digital Adoption Platform (DAP)

As organizations adopt new software and tools, ensuring that employees can effectively use them is crucial. A DAP provides in-app guidance, making it easier for employees to navigate and use new software. It offers real-time, step-by-step instructions, ensuring that users can complete tasks efficiently. 

A DAP can be particularly beneficial in the context of workflow learning, as it provides immediate assistance without disrupting the flow of work. By integrating a DAP, organizations can ensure smoother software transitions, reduce the learning curve, and enhance overall productivity.

Future trends and innovations in workflow learning

The world of workflow learning is ripe for innovation. As technology continues to evolve, so will the methods and tools available for training. Innovations like artificial intelligence and machine learning offer exciting possibilities for personalized, adaptive training. Virtual and augmented reality can provide immersive, hands-on training experiences that were previously unimaginable. 

As the lines between work and life continue to blur, especially with the rise of remote work, there will be a growing need for flexible training solutions that can adapt to diverse environments and schedules. Workflow learning, with its emphasis on real-time, context-specific training, is perfectly poised to meet these challenges and lead the way in the future of employee training.

Workflow learning helps organizations stay competitive

Workflow learning is more than just a trend; it’s a fundamental shift in how we approach training and development. By embracing this approach, organizations can ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in today’s dynamic work environment. 

ClickLearn is at the forefront of enabling workflow learning. We believe that it’s not just about providing resources; effective workflow learning is all about creating an optimal user experience that facilitates seamless learning. With ClickLearn’s User eXperience Panel (UXP), your organization ensures that employees have access to the right resources at the right time, ensuring minimal disruption to their workflow. 

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