End procrastination and improve productivity with digital learning

By Susan Dumas | June 27, 2018 | 0

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This blog is about how to use learning technology and digital learning content to better support your staff - and to specifically help them with their productivity. We specialise in helping organisations to support performance improvement and through our intelligent learning platform - Percipio, you can see how we do that.

Technology moves fast and we're all trying to keep up

Technology is moving forward faster than ever before - and that's not an exaggeration.

According to Moore’s law, processor output doubles every two years. Since computer power is the driving factor behind modern technology, this means that old devices and practices are becoming obsolete at an unprecedented rate.

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The increased pace of change in business and technology evolution makes it easy for organisations to lose ground. In 2016, 21% of all Fortune 500 companies fell of the list which shows you just how easy it is to lose your edge. To keep up, employees and organisations have to get better all the time - which is making everyone more overwhelmed than ever.


This is problematic. For starters, employees feeling stressed and out of time is a major HR/L&D challenge. It leads to reduced output, increased employee turnover and a vicious circle of negativity in the workplace.

Remember: people not wanting to come in to work as a result of stress is a worst-case scenario, specifically because the core of the problem is difficult to pinpoint and reverse. It’s better to nip any 'overwhelmingness' in the bud. If you don’t, expect it to turn into chronic employee procrastination: a serious problem that leads to...

  • An average of 2 hours (!!!) of lost productivity per day - and $10,369 lost per employee per year.
    (That's over a million dollars for a 100-strong organisation!)
  • Employees becoming stressed, inefficient and - in the end - perpetually unmotivated.

 

Worst of all, unchecked procrastination can turn into a massive competitive disadvantage - and here’s why. 

How procrastination kills organisations

 

Human Learning

 

Google X’s Eric Teller - and later author Thomas Friedman - both argue, with good reason, that technological growth is exponential while human learning is linear.

From this point of view, procrastination is a symptom of a bigger problem: that of organisations falling behind in knowledge and tools. People don’t just procrastinate because they’re bored; they also do it because they’re unable or unwilling to cope with the work they’re given.

This problem, if left unchecked over long periods of time, ends up with your organisation failing to adapt to new trends; wasting time and resources; running in place as employees get increasingly overwhelmed.

This is a hole you don't want to end up in. It can lead to unproductive and unhappy employees; millions of dollars in time wasted; a disadvantage even the best HR department can’t make up for. It’s strange to think that procrastination can do all that that - and yet it’s a challenge organisations face again and again.

 

So how do you deal with these problems effectively?


Digital
 learning, or technology-enhanced learning is one answer. It's not the only one, but it is perhaps the best one because it also helps overcome issues like:

Ineffective use of technology Inefficient personal planning Sub-optimal use of resources Poor employee skill sets Poor employee motivation

 

In this blog post, we’ll cover 5 key ways in which digital learning can put your employees on top of what’s overwhelming them; put an end to procrastination in your organisation; give you a competitive edge over the competition. For starters, digital learning...

1. Improves skill sets

Procrastination isn't just a product of poor employee performance or motivation. It’s also a result of feeling overwhelmed, i.e. being unable to use new tools and knowledge to keep up in the workplace.

Case in point: The Oxford Economics Workforce 2020 survey found that becoming obsolete is the #1 job-related worry. Innovation is happening so quickly that people fear their skills could be irrelevant in a matter of years (if not months).

It should be understood that this isn't happening in a vacuum, but rather against a backdrop of workers finding themselves increasingly incapable of dealing with work demands - and fearful of their skillset being weak.


Digital learning can help overcome this by:

  • Teaching employees to use modern technologies more efficiently
  • Providing skills that help employees use modern tools and knowledge effectively
  • Enabling on-the-fly online learning, i.e. letting individuals learn what's needed at their own pace on the internet.

 

The last point is particularly important. Moving away from iterative learning and towards on-demand digital learning means employees can improve constantly. They don't have to think about being obsolete. They don’t have to wait for anyone to tell them what to do. Instead, they can teach themselves everything they need, benefiting themselves and their employer while reducing time waste. This has two benefits. First, it’s empowering and effective. Second, it sets your organisation up to be agile: a crucial quality to have in the modern world.  Fortunately, digital learning’s second anti-procrastination “advantage” is that it helps..


Here's a really good example of how digital learning can help with productivity. Imagine this scenario. You are reading an article and you want to learn more about something - the best digital learning support will make this easy for you.

 

 


This is a feature in our new intelligent digital learning platform, Percipio. The search function is always there, no matter which application you are using, or which document you are reading. 

2. Creates a culture of real-time learning

In the modern world, learning and adapting is essential to success. Just consider the case of Instagram, which started out as “burbn”: a check-in app similar to FourSquare. It only turned into a photo sharing and editing service after its founders pivoted, rewriting Instagram’s code to adapt to what the market wanted.

This illustrates the importance of agility in the modern business world - and shows what every organisation should strive for.

The twist is, employees want the same thing and tend to be motivated by variety in their work. This means that giving them the opportunity to learn and become agile is a great way to motivate them to work harder - and, of course, reduce procrastination.

Being able to access new information on-the-fly as it becomes needed is an excellent way for employees to be agile. In simple terms, open-ended learning is crucial to having a business that can change and adapt at a moment’s notice.

One common concern executives and managers have is that leaving employees to their own devices will only result in more procrastination. This is a fair concern - but believe it or not, it’s easier to fix than one may imagine, because digital learning can help...

3. Digital learning eliminates noise

As we said above, there’s structured and unstructured digital learning. In the case of the latter, employees use a mix of paid and free content to get the skills and knowledge they need to do the best job possible. This sometimes means using YouTube, Facebook, etc - and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

At the same time, it’s your responsibility that these platforms don’t always make it easy to find the content you want. Asking employees to do so on their own can make them feel more overwhelmed instead of vice versa. This isn’t what you want - and fortunately, there’s a simple solution.

 

Curated content

Smart Content Curation

 

The trick is to identify the right kind of content - some of your staff will be better at this that others. The last thing you want is to have a possible solution to overwhelm actually add to the overwhelm!

We identified 4 ways to curate smart, personalised content in a way that optimises and supports learning instead of distracting:

  1. Identify common training topics in your business
  2. Identify value-add topics that are in-demand in your industry
  3. Define career development topics useful to your employees
  4. Constantly update and widen your content source list


When you do these things, your content will work to eliminate noise by guiding employees to the materials they need. It’ll minimise time waste instead of increasing it. Most importantly, it all but eliminates failure by preventing irresponsible improvisation.

Curating content also means you can give employees more freedom to explore it in an open-ended manner. In this sense, digital learning is a collaborative learning effort that involves management and their subordinates, helping both...

4. Bridge the knowledge gap

A recent Deloitte report on human capital trends found an interesting phenomenon that affects yourself and your team. Generally speaking, all of us are lagging behind what modern technology allows us to do. However, businesses have a bigger lag than individuals - and public policy is furthest behind.

What this means is - that personal use of technology is more advanced than business use

And not just because most of us use blocky computers with pointing sticks at the office, switching to more stylish devices at home!

It’s because employers often aren’t in touch with what their employees can do. For instance, Americans look at their mobile phones 8 billion times a day - but how many organisations use that to their advantage? And how many organisations make use of all those skills we had on our CVs when applying for our jobs?  This is another area in which digital learning, especially the curated kind, can reduce procrastination. It can maximise the time everyone spends on education, including social learning, and help an organisation bridge the gap described above. As an added benefit, it can give organisations information on what employees learn most often through digital metrics. Data analytics is a natural part of digitial learning and we'll blog more about this again.

 

And finally, digital learning...

5. Facilitates social learning (or it should!)

We've blogged a lot about social learning before - sharing these 10 tips on social learning. Supporting and encouraging our staff to collaborate and problem solve peer-to-peer is the backbone of our business and we strive to support our clients in this way too.

Traditionally, this kind of learning was limited by physical constraints - like working in different departments, offices, cities, etc. Today, the internet makes it possible for large groups of people to learn together no matter where they are. As a result, digital learning facilitates social learning by improving internal communication.

 

That’s its 5th major advantage!

 

To recap, let’s go over the 5 ways in which digital learning helps end procrastination:

1.  By improving employees’ skillsets
2.  By creating a culture of real-time learning
3.  By eliminating noise/distractions
4.  By bridging the knowledge gap
5.  By facilitating and supporting social learning

 

These solutions are not band-aid fixes for procrastination. They are, however, an effective way to put your employees on top of whatever’s overwhelming them.

We'd love to hear from you

We love feedback and optimising our methods and tips, so let us know what you think in the comment section below!

Just as a reminder, we can help you with on-demand digital learning through our intelligent learning platform - Percipio. Our learningCloud LMS is a scalable app-based learning platform, with apps to support social learning, content curation, gamification and much more.

 

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Posted in Business leader

Susan Dumas

About Susan Dumas

Susan is a Senior learning consultant, specialising in helping clients to navigate the options and to make the most of digital learning opportunities. Susan has 10+ years of experience in training needs analysis, managing global training projects and virtual training delivery.