Since 1st June 2017 at Swisscom Enterprise Customer, we switched from a top down L&D content generated approach to a social learning marketplace. In other words: our nearly 5000 employees conceptualise, create and deliver all corporate learning. The Corporate L&D team transformed from being a trainer to a learning organisation enabler.
Over the past year, I always got the same 2 questions:
- How do you motivate employees to share their knowledge?
- Employees don’t have the necessary training to be a trainer. How can they train others?
In short: our numbers clearly show that employees do create a lot of trainings (>200 courses in the past 12 months) and the employee satisfaction on corporate learning content has risen by 10%.
Is employee generated content good enough?
We survey our employees for each training that they take and ask them 3 questions:
- The topics and content were addressed clearly
- What I learned is helpful for my everyday work
- I’d recommend this training to others
The graph shows that content that was generated by employees versus content generated by the previous L&D department mandated by the business has got 10% less unsatisfied and 10% more highly satisfied users. In discussions that I and my team had with some of our learners, we generally heard that content was more relevant, authentic and applicable to their jobs. I firmly belief that empowering employees to teach other is the way forward in this ever faster moving digitalised and global world.
How to motivate employees to share their knowledge
Actually, I don’t. I recommend our employees to not create trainings at all. This often comes as a shock especially from the head of corporate learning & development. After all, shouldn’t I be the one to make people learn more?
My view is that in my role I should enable the organisation to let them close the skill gap themselves and I enable them in doing so. That also means that I need to critically assess where learning can deliver an impact. Often, tools, processes or incentives are not well aligned or not at the maturity level yet where it needs to be. In such cases, equipping employees with new knowledge or skills will not deliver any impact as their ecosystem is not enabling them to apply their newly learned skills.
And so, all training done will simply go to waste and increase the reputation that corporate L&D is a cost factor. Looking at how corporate learning is generally done, I fully agree that corporate L&D is a significant cost factor because there is no qualification process in place to decide when learning actually makes sense.
I recommend employees who are mandated to create a training, to first check with all stakeholders if tools, processes and incentives are at a good enough level in which the new skills can be applied in. Then, a management summary (including goals, non-goals and limitations amongst others) for a training concept can be created. This helps them to reflect if a training is actually the way forward or that upon looking closer, a different approach might be more impactful.
Often people are open to the idea to train others, but somehow, they don’t know where to start. In this case, I recommend to think about something they need to explain 10 times per month and make a small training about that. This way, they are highly familiar with the problem they address, the audience impacted by it and the pay-off is immediate: less questions per month so more time to do something else. Through a 45-minute eLearning and with guidance of coaches from my team or myself, we support this person through the first couple of times when making/ giving a training. During this process, we equip our employees to rationally question the need, purpose and business impact of the training they are creating. This approach builds the confidence people need to take on bigger training projects.
We further put a lot of energy in addressing the fear of potential job loss. A common understanding is that knowledge equals power equals keeping their job. And so, by sharing their knowledge, the risk of loosing their job would increase significantly based on this understanding. The speed of market changes and changing skill requirements due to digitalisation doesn’t make it a whole lot easier either. That is why I am very passionate to empower each of our employees to make a mindset change that brakes the belief of “knowledge = having a job” to “delivering value = having a job”. That all starts with knowing what you as a person want from life, where your strengths and weaknesses are and how that can be translated into delivering value inside an organisation. It is a tough process that I also went through with all of my team members, but a highly rewarding one once the mindset switch is made.
The light-blue line shows the increase of employee-generated content by 200 trainings in 12 months. The dark-blue line indicates the amount of active learners per month.
How to enable employees to generate learnings that deliver value
The first belief that corporate L&D teams needs to throw away is the one where they believe to be the only ones equipped with the ability of teaching others. If that belief is still there, there is no way that you can enable employees to deliver impactful trainings.
A second mindset change is one of having customer centricity as a primary focus and operating a corporate learning department as if it would be a profitable business. Profitable being that it is delivering more perceived value to the business than the perceived costs. The communication gap between corporate learning and the business is often too big to be closed. Having people from the business taking over certain responsibilities inside corporate L&D teams can help close this gap.
Thirdly, it needs to be less painful for an employee to deliver an impactful training than to simply stick with the status quo. That means it needs to be an overall great user experience for them, with a very low threshold to try it out. The user experience should be, putting it bluntly, “idiot proof”. A 16 or 60 year old with no prior knowledge on delivering formal education should be able to create and execute an impactful training.
We do this by offering an eLearning, where within 45 minutes you know how to create a blended learning concept, build your training to deliver it with a business impact. We started off with 5 training formats:
- Presentations or Knowledge sharing (using PowerPoint)
- Webinar (using Skype for Business & PowerPoint)
- Workshop (using meeting rooms)
- PodCasts (using smartphones to produce and distribute)
- Smovie (using smartphones to produce and distribute 60-second movies)
All of these formats, except Smovie, have hardly any learning curve at all. But combining them in a smart way with a few tips, you can already create a training that is good enough for the majority of employees to enable them to do a better job. And that leads me to the fourth point: good enough.
Letting go of the belief that only the best or the highest quality of training material is good enough for employees to learn from, will be the hardest one for both corporate L&D teams as well as the business. Good enough is when the content helps employees achieve their targets. Good enough is not when all didactical standards are being kept and the content can be of an award-winning level. It is at this point where employee generated content will stand a chance to be piloted, tested and accepted by the business.