Managing learner expectations

Modern technology has revolutionized the way we access information. These top tips will help you manage the expectations of today’s “consumer learners.”

Written by Mind Tools
Published 06 July 2021
Managing learner expectations

With the digital boom of mobile devices, social media, and on-demand entertainment, almost everything is now available at the touch of a button. People expect to be able to access what they want, whenever they want it. And this expectation now extends to L&D.

In fact, a 2020 Work Institute report found that lack of growth and development opportunities to be the biggest reason people quit their jobs.

But they might not get that far. Job interviews are no longer a one-way conversation: the company is under just as much scrutiny. Without the promise of learning support and career development, a once desirable role can start to lose its appeal. After all, why should someone invest their time and effort to support an organization that isn't prepared to invest in them?

So, what can we do to ensure that our learners stay engaged, and less inclined to move on to "greener pastures?" Here are five key expectations of the consumer learner, that you need to meet.

1. Learning as the consumer learner needs it

During the pandemic, our research reveals over 60% of top-performing organizations have self-determined learners.

The rise of flexible working also means many people no longer distinguish between in and out of work hours when it comes to learning.

So, giving your people resources that they can access where and when they need it – at their desk, on their commute, or waiting for a meeting to start – is vital.

2. Quality on-demand resources

With millions of search engine results to choose from – and the continued blight of fake news – many L&D professionals question the quality and relevance of the information their people rely on.

If your people are using unreliable sources for their learning, this will have a directly negative impact on their effectiveness – and your organization in the long run. 

The key is to invest in a solution where the consumer learner can easily search for what they need, while you remain confident they’re accessing high-quality, highly relevant sources that will benefit you and your organization.

3. Flexibility is key

Every day brings a new set of challenges, so it's important your learners are prepared with access to a variety of different tools in a range of formats to help with any situation. Whether they have 10 minutes to watch a video on the bus, or want to spend their lunch break catching up on a webinar, learners expect choice of formats.

Our research shows that a blend of learning options such as courses, on-demand digital resources, and mentoring works better at putting learning into practice than classroom or online only. Do your consumer learners have access to this variety of formats?

4. Deciding what they learn

To enable this flexible and accessible style of learning, your people expect to have access to a broad range of learning materials.

During the pandemic, resources on topics such as wellbeing, resilience and emotional intelligence have been popular alongside classics like strategy and leadership, team management and career skills. But this can differ from person to person, so it's important to cater to different requirements and provide a wide range of topics to choose from.

5. Total control

Today’s consumer learners feel more empowered to learn. So much so, our research found that 87% of learners say they manage their own L&D responsibly. 

Studies show that access to multiple and alternative resources supports employee autonomy, improved innovation, and higher engagement. But there’s a digital lag. Only one in three L&D leaders say they offer organized resources which employees can find easily.

With a bank of high-quality, on-demand learning resources, you can keep your learners engaged and exceed their expectations.

Looking for more information?

For more details on these key five expectations of today's consumer learner, download our white paper, 5 key expectations of today's consumer learner.

About the author

Mind Tools

Mind Tools

Mind Tools was started in 1996 to offer practical online learning to people in the workplace.

By the time they joined Emerald in March 2019, they had grown into the one of the world’s most comprehensive learning resources, with millions of individual learners in 50 countries worldwide.

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