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5 strategies to make learning in the flow of work a success

Access to snackable expertise and know-how right at the time employees need it the most. That’s the idea of learning in the flow of work (LIFOW) in a nutshell. A performance booster par excellence. But as attractive as it all may sound, offering just-in-time learning resources alone won’t cut it. Follow these guidelines to truly nail LIFOW.

    What does learning in the flow of work mean?

    Learning in the flow of work is a principle to better suit the needs and wishes of employees: for learning to really happen, it must fit around and align itself to working days and working lives. This way, learning and development is no longer a destination, but something that blends well with daily work.

      1. Use LIFOW to complement formal learning

      To set the expectations right: LIFOW isn’t meant to replace formal learning. If that’s your goal, you’re bound to get disappointed. No, LIFOW serves best as an addition to formal learning. Instead of learning a topic once as part of a course (and then quickly forgetting it), the beauty of LIFOW is that it ties in nicely with retrieval practice. It helps employees to remember what they’ve learned before so they can apply it to solve specific issues when they come up. For example, a saleswoman needs to answer a tricky question from a customer. She could open up a FAQ guide with tips the sales department compiled after a formal training on sales practices two months ago.

        2. Leverage your in-house expertise and knowledge

        LIFOW often evokes images of fancy new tools, filled with micro portions of world-class expertise and know-how, brought to you by industry experts. Looking around you, however, is often enough. You always have much more in-house knowledge than you realise. Put it to work! Let experienced colleagues record how-to video tutorials, make templates, draft checklists, etc. for challenges they had to overcome themselves. These can be a great asset to employees who are new in the team, while they’re easy on your budget. This also allows you to create an internal Netflix of learning, with options tailored to everyone’s needs.

          Jill Everaert
          The creator economy is rapidly growing. We’re all becoming potential creators of meaningful content. The trick is to provide a platform for your people to actually take the step.
          Jill Everaert
          Jill Everaert, Manager SD Worx Academy

          3. Free up time for your employees

          Wasn’t LIFOW meant to eliminate learning time by providing only the most relevant answers in a split second? Well, that‘s the theory. In practice, your employees will always need some time to find the right learning resource and consult it. Encourage people to do so. For example, give them the time to follow an e-learning on Tuesday morning to prepare them for an upcoming task. Even more, make it clear you expect them to do so and challenge them on it. If not, you’re great new learning platform might end up being the thing everybody talks about but nobody uses.

            4. Don’t forget to keep it human

            Technology is transforming the way we work and learn. Much of it is for the better, but we can’t rely on digital tools to solve all our problems, nor should we want to. Suppose someone in your organisation doesn’t quite excel in communication. Tech can’t fix that, colleagues can. They’ll need to provide on-demand support and coaching. To illustrate, maybe a spontaneous roleplay or a 15-minute brainstorm to elicit new approaches could help. Many of the future skills, as defined by the OECD, including creative thinking, collaboration and empathy will need a distinct human touch within LIFOW.

              Good to know: people-oriented tech also helps to keep your learning and development efforts human. This is how you strike a balance between high-tech and high-touch.

                5. Provide task that challenge people to grow

                People learn by doing. And they won’t be learning anything new if they’re doing the same things, in the same way, every single day. Therefore, look for opportunities to ‘trick’ your employees into learning. Picture this: an employee signals a discrepancy in his payslip. Why not task a new HR colleague to find the error? He probably won’t succeed as fast as a more experienced HR professional would, but the process will result in a steep learning curve. Afterwards, you could even encourage him to share his learnings with other new colleagues. Options abound, but be careful not to challenge people too much. LIFOW should get the brain ticking without being overwhelming

                  The potential for career development is one of the best ways to engage your employees. People want to know that their hard work contributes to something, including the opportunity for advancement within their own careers. And by integrating learning in the daily workflows of your employees you’re exactly hitting that nail. Just make sure you’re using the right strategies to turn LIFOW into a genuine success.

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                      Jill Everaert

                      Jill Everaert

                      Manager SD Worx Academy