Organizations are spending trillions of dollars on new technologies that will alter the workplace over the next decade. The unfortunate result, according to the World Economic Forum, is that one billion people will need new skills to remain employable. 

This means your organization and its employee training programs need to adapt to this new reality and create an appetite for learning and ability to adapt — two of the most important skills needed for today’s workforce.

Let’s explain what that means and find out how to build learning agility into your learning and development (L&D) strategy.  

What it means to be an agile learner

Learning agility doesn’t have anything to do with how good or bad someone’s grades were in school. Learning agility is the ability to find solutions when confronted with an unfamiliar situation or problem. 

On an organizational level, it means empowering employees to access learning resources when they need them, especially as those needs change and evolve. It also means giving people an opportunity to immerse themselves in a learning experience whenever, wherever, and however they learn best. 

If you’re not sure how to build learning agility at your organization, the ideas that follow are a great place to start. 

Learning agility idea #1: Embed learning agility into your hiring process

The most successful hires will be those who learn, adapt, and grow at pace of change. But how, exactly, do you assess a potential candidate’s learning agility during the interview process? It’s easier than you think.  

When looking for agile learners, one of the strongest indicators is a sense of curiosity. It’s a sign someone would be open to understanding and learning new things. This remains true regardless of role or level. Even C-suite roles are more successful when filled by those with learning agility. In the interview ask a curiosity question, for example, if the candidate has taught themselves a new skill in the recent past. 

Organizations should also look for those who don’t have a fear of failure and instead view all experiences as an opportunity for growth. They take risks and use non-traditional tools, and despite setbacks, are confident in themselves and their ability to adapt and grow. 

Finally, organizations should take note of what questions they have come armed with. Stock questions, or ones that can be answered with a glance at your company website should raise suspicion. Alternately, questions around the organization’s future are indicative of engaged, curious learners. 

Learning agility idea #2: Signal the value of learning agility across your organization 

Lots of companies claim to prioritize learning and development — but few actually give employees the time and space to learn. 

It’s true, some employees like to learn on their own time and in their own way. But in order for your organization to be successful, it needs to set aside time for learning. At Udemy, for example, there’s a one-hour time slot on every employee’s calendar dedicated to learning called Drop Everything and Learn (DEAL) Hour.

Organizations that successfully cultivate an appetite for learning set an example at the executive level. If learning and development is regarded as a secondary activity at your organization, work with leaders to emphasize the importance of learning and share their learning goals with teams. 

Learning agility idea #3: Weave learning agility into career development plans

Once organizations have found the right people, the next step is to develop them. This begins by incorporating learning into the goal-setting process.

A great way to do this is to make learning an integral part of yearly or quarterly review milestones. Provide challenging tasks and growth opportunities. These learning goals can be mastering a new tool such as Photoshop or Marketo, increasing their knowledge of an existing skill, or — if an individual wants to grow by moving into a different role — building in the key learning steps required to make this change.

Learning agility idea #4: Create a learning agility approach that is modular and adaptable 

Instead of investing time and money into creating more courses, rely on blended learning.

Blended learning is a combination of classroom-based learning programs, on-demand videos and blogs, and one-on-one coaching sessions. The approach allows for a bottoms-up approach to learning where employees can discover the right courses for them when they need them. 

A study by the U.S. The Department of Education shows that a combination of online learning resources and face-to-face instruction is the most effective way to learn. For example, L&D can combine these innovative tools into a flipped learning approach with pre-work video courses assigned before role-playing classroom sessions to ensure that new knowledge is applied.

The future of workplace learning is agile

It’s an exciting time to be learning at work. Our world is changing so fast you cannot rely on our old ways of working. Instead, you have to create a culture of learning throughout your organization and make upskilling a business imperative.

To help your company stay competitive, proactively focus on industry trends, and long-term business strategy — train up teams with a Skills Academy.