July 24, 2024

Advancing Corporate Yields

Pioneering Business Success

the flexible future of employee development

The corporate training landscape is undergoing a seismic shift, with blended learning emerging as the new standard for developing employees’ skills and knowledge. According to imc Learning’s recently launched State of Learning Technologies 2024 report, a staggering 62 per cent of organisations have embraced this dynamic approach, combining the convenience of online learning with the richness of in-person training.

This trend is being driven by a perfect storm of factors. Technological advancements have made it easier than ever to deliver high-quality online content, while the changing dynamics of today’s multigenerational and increasingly remote workforce demand more flexible and personalised learning solutions. But the real appeal of blended learning lies in its ability to cater to diverse learning styles and preferences, while also offering significant cost savings and scalability benefits.

The flexibility factor

One of the key advantages of blended learning is its flexibility. Employees can access online modules, videos and other resources at their own pace and from any location – whether that’s at their desk, on the commute or from home. This self-directed learning is then complemented by face-to-face sessions, where they can put their new knowledge into practice through hands-on activities, group discussions and real-time feedback from trainers.

This combination of online and in-person elements not only increases accessibility but also allows for a more personalised learning experience tailored to individual needs and preferences. For example, those who prefer a more visual approach can engage with multimedia content online, while kinaesthetic learners can benefit from the practical, hands-on nature of in-person sessions.

Cost effective and scalable

From an organisational perspective, blended learning offers a cost-effective solution compared to traditional classroom-based training. By reducing the need for travel and minimising the use of physical training facilities, companies can significantly cut expenses while still providing high-quality learning experiences.

The online components of blended learning programmes are also highly scalable, making it easier to deliver consistent training across multiple locations or departments. This ensures a standardised approach to upskilling employees, regardless of their geographical location or team.

Boosting engagement and retention

But perhaps the most compelling argument for blended learning is its potential to improve knowledge retention and application in the workplace. Research has consistently shown that learners who engage with multiple modalities – such as online modules, interactive simulations and in-person activities – are better able to reinforce their understanding and apply their new skills in practical settings.

This improved knowledge retention can have a direct impact on employee engagement and job satisfaction. When employees feel supported in their professional development and equipped with the right skills to excel in their roles, they are more likely to feel valued and committed to their organisation.

Overcoming challenges

Of course, implementing an effective blended learning strategy is not without its challenges. Organisations must carefully design programmes that seamlessly integrate online and in-person components, ensuring a cohesive and engaging learning experience. There may also be technological barriers to overcome, such as ensuring reliable internet connectivity and user-friendly online platforms. And perhaps most crucially, companies must find ways to maintain learner motivation and engagement throughout the online portions of the programme, through strategies like gamification, interactive multimedia and regular check-ins or assessments.

But for those organisations willing to invest the time and resources into getting it right, the rewards of blended learning are clear: a skilled, engaged and future-ready workforce that can drive business success in an ever-evolving corporate landscape.

The future of blended learning

And the future of blended learning looks even more exciting, with emerging technologies like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and AI-powered adaptive learning set to revolutionise the learning experience. Imagine being able to immerse employees in realistic simulations through VR, allowing them to practise skills in a safe and controlled environment. Or leveraging AI to personalise the learning journey for each individual, adapting content, pacing and feedback based on their unique needs and progress.

Another emerging trend is a shift to programmatic learning, especially in connection with AI-driven approaches. AI-integrated programmatic learning spans months, targeting complex organisational challenges and fostering continuous skill acquisition. It’s an action-oriented programme, emphasising predefined outcomes, with performance reviewed regularly to reinforce positive behaviours.

For enterprises navigating remote and hybrid workforces, hybrid learning, a form of blended learning, seamlessly combines online resources with traditional classroom approaches. It blends physical and virtual elements, offering learners flexibility in time and pace while maintaining the presence of both instructors and participants. It’s about more than just alternating between in-person and digital activities, it’s a dynamic approach reshaping corporate training and education in the modern workplace.

As these innovations become more accessible and affordable, organisations that embrace blended learning will be well positioned to stay ahead of the curve in developing a skilled and future-ready workforce.

In an era where the ability to continuously upskill and adapt is essential for both individual and organisational success, blended learning offers a flexible, engaging and cost-effective solution for employee development. Those companies that fail to recognise its potential risk being left behind.

Claire Raistrick is international HR manager at imc Learning