The Learner Voice

Research Reveals 75% Motivated to Learn Online

London (UK), May 2015 - The Learner Voice series aims to help L&D leaders challenge their assumptions about workplace learning and identify new opportunities to connect with and engage their staff. Towards Maturity's brand-new infographic-style report reveals fresh insights on differences between roles and generations.

Direct Learner insights have been drawn from the Towards Maturity Learning Landscape Audit (LLA), which is an ongoing research programme that started in 2003. The LLA helps individual businesses uncover the real facts about how their staff learn at work, both formally and informally. Each organisation has a unique profile of behaviour, but there are trends across all of these businesses that are shared anonymously throughout the Learner Voice series.

In part 1, Towards Maturity looked at how 2,000 learners in the private sector were learning what they needed to do their jobs. In The Learner Voice Part 2, the not-for-profit research company digs a little deeper with a new sample of 5,700 learners randomly selected from 17,000 learners, who responded from a range of organisations across the private and public sectors during 2014. The study reveals the perspectives of line managers, sales staff, those in their role for less than 6 months, those over 50, and those in the 21-30 age bracket.

One clear finding is that collaboration is king for all staff when it comes to learning: 91% of the whole sample reported that team collaboration is either essential or very useful for learning what they need for their job (rising to 96% for those who have been in the company for less than 6 months and dropping to 84% for those in sales roles).

Additionally, 80% of staff are willing to share what they know with their peers. This rises to 96% for those new to their role and drops slightly for those over 50, to 70%. However, when it comes to sharing online, 15% of managers and sales staff and 26% of new starters say they'd like help in getting started.

The study also shows that formal learning still has an important role to play in helping staff do their jobs better. Whilst the classroom is not dead, neither is online learning, with 50% of the respondents rating eLearning courses, mobile learning, and live online learning as “essential or very useful” to help them learn what they need to do their job. In fact, 75% are motivated to learn online because they want to do their job faster and better, with half looking for a promotion or learning for personal development.

Laura Overton, Managing Director of Towards Maturity commented, "We need to challenge our assumptions about how people actually learn what they need to do their job. The Learning Landscape Audit does that for individual organisations, but this consolidated picture also provides a challenge to the L&D industry in general. Our staff are already embracing technology for learning in the workplace, and yet 36% of L&D teams don't know how their own staff are doing this. Providing staff with an active voice is now essential for anyone looking to modernise their learning strategy effectively."

Other quick facts from The Learner Voice Part 2 report

Barriers to learning online

  • Whilst 3 in 5 struggle to find the time, 2 in 5 can't find what they need or think that current offerings are not relevant to their need.

When are staff learning?

  • Line managers and new starters are most likely to learn online when travelling to and from work (56% and 59% respectively do this).
  • Sales people are most likely to learn at the point of need (49%).

Generational differences

  • This sample shows few significant generational differences, with older and younger both showing similar rankings when rating the usefulness of online, face-to-face, and collaborative practices for learning.
  • However, older staff are twice as likely to find poor technology a barrier to learning online that their younger peers in the same sample (29% vs. 16%). Younger people are 50% more likely to struggle with not finding what they need (45% vs. 29%).
  • Younger staff members are twice as likely to want to learn online for personal benefits than older staff.

Managers Matter

  • Some 81% of all staff say that manager support is essential/very useful for learning what they need for their job.
  • Only 58% agree their manager makes time for them to learn at work.
  • Only 33% agree that objectives are discussed with managers prior to learning.
  • Only 49% agree their managers expect them to apply learning after a course.

Does L&D understand their learners?

  • Understanding how staff learn what they need to do their job is a core characteristic of top-deck learning organizations; however only 36% of L&D professionals do this.
  • Learner Voice 2 highlights some of the mismatches in supply and demand that result. 

The Learner Voice Part 2 covers the following topics:

  • How do staff learn what they need to do their jobs?
  • The Line Manager’s Voice
  • The Sales Person’s Voice
  • The New Starter’s Voice
  • The Voice across Generations
  • Staff views on learning culture
  • Are L&D teams tuned into the learner voice?
  • Characteristics of top deck L&D teams