December 7, 2018

Transforming organisational learning for the new generation

Formal education including schools and universities is part of learning — but it definitely isn’t the only way we can learn, nor does the learning stop there. Learning is a never-ending process, something you nurture at school and eventually bring to your work or business.

Stanford Online High School is a great example of this. Although seemingly a formal educational institution and affiliated with the famous California university, it integrates extra-curricular activities, online learning and classroom study throughout the day. Even when they are not in the classroom, students are constantly learning through every activity they do.

Nurturing learning in your organisation is important, and I think it’s especially critical for the newer generations that are starting to play a major role in the workplace.

As the pace of change accelerates, demand for skills keeps shifting, and young people in particular need to be prepared to adapt. Therefore it’s crucial to constantly transform organisational learning, keeping in mind that these young people are the future for your organisation.

First, expectations have changed. The newer generations grew up with technology, using computers or phones for both leisure and study. Their expectations of learning will also evolve. Second, younger people tend to place a greater value on having a sense of purpose and being able to contribute something of value to their teams and the organisation.

That said, there are no age limitations when it comes to learning. To get the best out of learning, it should be lifelong and continuous, regardless of age. That’s why it’s so important to nurture earning in your organisation.

The following are just some ways you can transform organisational learning to motivate and engage the younger generation while also creating a welcoming learning environment for others.

First, personalise learning and make it readily available anywhere at any time. Technology has made this easy. Providing this convenience for your people is important. For one, it allows them to learn continuously, without having to compromise their existing schedules. Another great thing is that they can easily personalise their own learning, making it more effective as it reflects their interests and goals.

Second, make learning available in bite-sized pieces. Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are getting shorter in the age content clutter, and distraction takes a toll on learning retention. Keep the learning content brief enough to hold their attention but meaningful enough that they will learn something of value from it.

Additionally, you don’t want your people to experience information overload as they will start to dread learning sessions, and most likely won’t remember anything. Providing them a sufficient amount of information allows them to learn enough for the time being.

Third, make learning a journey of discovery, not something you do in one concentrated period and then stop. Learning is not about cramming information into your mind, it’s about discovering new things and how you can apply them.

Just as making sure learning is bite-sized will improve retention, portraying it as a journey of discovery will ensure people remember the knowledge they’ve gained and will be able to put it into practice.

Last, constantly promote a lifelong learning mindset within the organisation. Learning is often equated with studying. But studying is about attaining knowledge, while learning about attaining knowledge and applying it practically.

Learning can seem like a chore, but the fact is, it is something we are already doing. Sometimes we’re unaware that it is happening, such as when we’re having conversations with peers or reading news articles. Promoting and nurturing this mindset is key to a continuously learning and growing organisation.

Learning is rewarding in many ways and as human beings, we’re natural learners. Our world, the workforce and the workplace will keep changing, but the one constant that allows us to stay ahead is our desire to keep learning.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading Executive, Leadership and Innovation Capability Development Center. She can be reached by email at or