With incredible amounts of data surrounding the workplace and different generations of employees — more or less experienced and tech-savvy — working together, companies need a strong ally if they want to keep a competitive edge.
If knowledge is power, then the transfer of knowledge means empowerment.
How can businesses be successful in empowering their employees? How can technology — and especially learning management systems — help companies ride the huge wave of knowledge transfer we are currently witnessing?
The clash of the generations in the workplace
Workplaces everywhere are caught in the what I like to call the clash of the generations:
- Millennials get a lot of attention for their new ways of doing things, their high expectations from employers, and the fact that they already make up the largest part of the workforce.
- The Founders, the younger counterparts of millennials, have barely started to join workplaces. They may not be under the spotlight just yet, but they're getting there.
- Baby Boomers are the other large generational segment of the workforce, and they accelerate towards retirement. They have the most business experience and still hold the most managerial positions.
- Generation Xers stand right between boomers and millennials, and their only fault is that they're not enough.
The greatest battle takes place between the younger generations, that live and breathe the digital world, and the older generations, that are more experienced with how businesses work. The thing is, companies need their employees to be both knowledgeable and digital-savvy if they want to be successful in the future.
The greatest wave of knowledge transfer
And even when workplaces are homogeneous when it comes to the age of employees, the skills and competences some of them have are not interchangeable. For example, a work project might suffer some unprofessional delay in case a key employee has a personal emergency and misses a day of work, and the rest of the team can't move along because they need an important piece of information that only the missing key employee knows.
With so much information surrounding the workplace, and so much pressure from the fast-paced external business environment to keep that information always up-to-date, we are witnessing first-hand the greatest wave of knowledge transfer ever.
Companies big and small need to respond to this, and create safe environments where all employees can share their knowledge and learn together.
The role of the LMS in this knowledge transfer wave
More often than not, workplace learning involves some sort of technology. By technology I mean mostly learning management systems for business organizations.
Whether we're talking about geographically dispersed teams, or a great number of employees, one-on-one courses may not be able to handle this huge wave of knowledge transfer within reasonable time and costs. And even when face-to-face instruction is possible, LMSs are still part of the L&D company strategy as a whole.
LMSs provided a great way for trainers and L&D professionals to give access to learning materials to all employees, mostly through a central repository containing all documents. Also, learning management systems were very useful when assessing employees' learning results.
They evolved to respond more to learners' needs.
The possibility of creating online communities within the learning platform meant that users could ask questions related to courses and receive instant feedback.
Instructional designers could add multimedia content, create branching scenarios, and use gamfication techniques to make training courses more engaging. What's more, they could organize the courses into bite-sized learning modules, for busy employees.
Also, the adoption of responsive design made it possible for employees to access learning materials on the go, at the point of need.
Things are moving even further.
Remember the clash between older generations and younger generations of employees in the workplace? They can get together and share their knowledge through the company LMS.
Besides the usual learner, instructor, or administrator accounts, some LMS vendors provide a new type of account that responds to mentoring relationships. Through mentorship accounts, younger employees (mentees) can pick the brains of more experienced employees (mentors) in a structured and analyzable way. Mentorship accounts ease the process of workplace knowledge transfer.
Learning, in all its possible ways, is an organic process, specific to each employee. In other words, it's hard (and sometime downright impossible) to measure. Learning experiences at work come in various shapes and sizes, from formal training courses, to mentoring relationships, to informal conversations on the hallways.
If the company LMS has xAPI integration and the required LRS is well connected with other tech systems within the organization, almost all learning experiences can be captured, measured, and analyzed. This means that, in the enormous ocean of big data, L&D professionals can access and use the right data. Thus, they can identify how, when and where most knowledge transfer between employees happens, and adapt their strategies to offer more personalized learning.
The LMS of today is much more than a way for training professionals to give access to learning materials and assess employees' progress in courses. It has evolved to meet the needs of learners in the workplace, and it constantly evolves into a vital tool that companies can use to ride the wave of knowledge transfer successfully.
This post was originally published on HR.com.