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Adaptive learning

Darren Hockley, Managing Director of eLearning provider, DeltaNet International on ensuring your training is innovative and accessible in 2021 and beyond

It’s safe to say that 2020 was a challenging year for business. From the unprecedented switch to homeworking for millions of us to depleted supply chains and furlough schemes, we’ve all had to adapt quickly to life in the pandemic just to stay operational.

Given these dramatic shifts, it’s easy to see how training could have fallen by the wayside for business leaders facing other, seemingly more fundamental challenges. However, I would argue that a well-trained workforce makes for a more robust, flexible workforce, and that continued training is, in fact, a key way for organisations to keep up with the fast pace of changes as we enter 2021.

Indeed, by keeping the workforce up-to-date with the latest processes, procedures, and best practices, you’re helping to future-proof your business against skills-shortages and keep it safe. Training is paramount when it comes to mitigating risks, increasing the engagement of employees, and supporting your short/long-term business goals.


In a recent survey we asked 1,000 employees across the country how they felt about their company’s training. The goal was to find out how much training employees receive and their sentiment towards this training, e.g., how effective and engaging it is, whether the training achieves it goals, how it helps employees reach their potential, and so on.

The answers were telling, with over 40 per cent of respondents rating their company’s training as ‘average’ or worse. Furthermore, only one in five employees said they felt very engaged or enthusiastic about their company’s training, and one third of employees reported feeling apathetic towards it.

A quarter of respondents said they find the repetitive nature of their mandatory training ‘frustrating’, while others dubbed it ‘boring’ (19 per cent), ‘long-winded’ (13 per cent) or ‘irrelevant’ (13 per cent).

As worrying as these outcomes are, perhaps the most concerning result to come from the survey was that almost half (48 per cent) of all respondents said they would look for another job due to poor training – a testament to the adage that good employee training is an investment in people that businesses cannot afford to ignore.

Given these results, it seems obvious that workplace training isn’t always hitting the mark when it comes to engagement or effectiveness; a fact that’s evermore concerning given the crucial nature of mandatory awareness training – essential learning like fire-safety, data-protection, and equality and diversity.


Businesses that have managed to stay agile and successfully adapt to various challenges and changes over the years have one thing in common: they never stop learning. For employees at these organisations, training isn’t a one-time event that (often frustratingly) interrupts the flow of work simply to fulfil a legal obligation. Neither is it repetitive, regurgitating the same information year after year in a sort of lazy ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Indeed, companies that view and treat compliance training, or any training for that matter, as such are far more likely to get the type of employee feedback and disinterest we see above – and it’s not hard to understand why.

After all, force-feeding your employees dull, legislatively focused learning-content for the sake of ticking a box is not conducive to real learning, nor does it help instill the types of behavioural change we need to see when it comes to reducing workplace risks and encouraging performance.

Thankfully, the rise of learning delivered in digital formats has meant that companies can keep employees on track with their learning journeys, whether they’re office-based, working remotely, or even on the road. Cutting-edge, cloud-based learning platforms can help support continued learning since they can be accessed on mobile devices as well as traditional PCs and laptops. Training results are then automatically uploaded once the device is back online.


Another digital innovation, adaptive learning removes the repetitiveness from compliance training, by – first diagnosing – and then targeting only the gaps in knowledge each individual employee needs to fill. By doing so, it also removes a lot of ‘wasted’ time going over information that’s either not relevant or that the employee already has awareness and understanding of.

As well as showing you value your employee’s time and knowledge, adaptive learning doesn’t subject employees to the same learning content year after year either. Rather, the AI leveraging modern learning platforms suggests different learning styles to keep things fresh and to suit the individual’s personal taste and requirements (think detailed study, immersive learning, short-courses, or microlearning, – all dependent upon the learner’s actual needs and time constraints).


Intelligent eLearning platforms also have the ability to learn about specific employees’ gaps in knowledge, delivering training and other information as and when it’s needed, alongside work rather than instead of it.

This process of ‘learning in the flow of work’ is a fairly new idea and it recognises that for learning to really happen, it must fit around and align itself to working days and working lives. Rather than think of corporate learning as a destination, then, it’s now something we can access ‘on demand’. In this way, it can bridge the gap between learning and doing.

About Sarah OBeirne

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