Now & Then: How Learning at Work Has Changed

There was a time when work was all about the 9-5, cubicles and working for that corner office (potentially with a window). Moving down the hall was as much about knowing the right people as it was having the right skills, and obtaining those skills was generally something an individual had to seek on their own. The organization may have hoped to have talented employees, but the inspiration to gain and build on that talent wasn’t necessarily something management concerned themselves with.

Today’s workforce, however, expects something a little different. When asked about the opportunity for career growth, 76% of employees are hoping their employer has something in place for their development. And with 40% of poorly trained hires leaving their job before the one year mark, you can bet it means something for their retention and motivation. Whether you blame Gen Y, Gen X, technology or progressive leadership, the shift in how we learn at work is remarkable and hard to ignore.

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ICYMI: The Who, How & What You Need to Know about Employee Development.


Education will always be a huge part of the development of an employee. Whether that education is traditional or not, we all begin learning our trade and skills via independent study. In the past, that trend was further upheld by the logistics of the office. Cubicles and doors or floors between leadership was common. Sometimes, it was necessary to even schedule meetings with leaders via receptionists.

Now, the office floor plans are opening up and walls are coming down. In fact, 96% of executives believe it is lack of collaboration that’s to blame for most workplace failures. Some organizations will always have flights of stairs between departments, but the likelihood that work is done solely on your own is far less. Technology has brought about intranets and other internal communication tools. Slack, Yammer, B24 and HipChat have made it easy to share docs, create groups and even banter with co-workers feet or miles away. All this collaboration is increasing innovation, idea sharing and inspiring managers to provide their team more feedback.

Tweet This: Do you agree with 96% of executives who say lack of collaboration is to blame for workplace failures?


The business world is accepting new and exciting things and though mentorship might be derived from apprenticeship-esque relationships of the past, mentoring in organizations is anything but outdated. Training used to be far more transactional: the trainer tells trainee how to complete a task and trainee practices that task until they have mastered the process. That system is based on the belief that everyone learns by seeing and then repeating, but learning styles aren’t that cut and dry.

Today’s companies are grasping that fact. Training programs are lengthening, onboarding is being adopted and building mentorship programs for employees is a growing priority. Not only does mentoring strengthen skill sets in employees, it has been shown to increase their productivity as managers by 88%. With a mentor by their side, employees of all levels are sure to have more individualized support, feel more comfortable discussing issues as they arise and encourages knowledge sharing. This embedded learning makes everyday work an educational opportunity for the employee.

Tweet This: Implementing a mentorship program improves productivity in new hires by 88%.


Technology created the presentation deck and technology can take it away. Well, PowerPoint presentations aren’t dead, nor will they ever truly be, but the way they are built and delivered is a testament to the approach modern business is taking to building learning cultures. Whether they were attending seminars or internal meetings, it used to be that these required training programs revolved around directing information at employees.

Now, the decks are shorter, housing less information and calling for more participation by the audience. Of course, this goes much further than a simple deck. Organizations are simply making required training into opportunities to really inspire their workforce. The interactivity of almost any training or learning opportunity is bringing employees into the problems and solutions instead of simply talking around them.

Check out these 20 tips from professionals who make the most of employee development programs.


Remember that corner office? There was a time when grabbing that desk by the window was about things like tenure and education. Often, there was a track to making it a reality, but it wasn’t always innate or openly shared. Talent management of the past was more about reactive issue management than anything else. Those two traits combined lead to a far more linear organization with less opportunity to really own your career trajectory.

Today, HR and managers are aware of how important both proactive performance management is to retaining and strengthening their workforce. Whether they have been identified as high potential or not, leaders are quickly adopting performance management techniques that solicit feedback and provide direction for building their employees. Even more, the very structure of organizations are flattening, creating a better chance of hearing and helping talent reach career goals within their very own companies.