Today’s main concern of business leaders is inflation and the looming recession.
The recession has already arrived in the technology sector, with technology stocks plummeting to all-time lows.
For example, Asana, the project management software company, has seen its value decrease by 87% in the past 12 months, and Lyft, the ride-sharing app, by 79%.
Even Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has seen its market capitalization drop by 71%, followed by other large tech companies like Salesforce, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.
Lay-offs and hiring freezes have followed suit, with Twitter, Meta, Amazon, and hundreds of tech scale-ups announcing drastic measures impacting 10-50% of their workforce.
At the time of this writing, technology companies have cut an estimated 100.000 jobs.
What does this mean for Learning & Development leaders?
Cost cutting comes to learning & development, and so does opportunity
As one L&D leader told us, “we don’t know what else is coming, but cutting costs is coming.”
The apparent lesson of the 2009-2010 economic crisis is that cutting training and development will have adverse effects in the long term.
Still, the less obvious lesson is that most learning market innovations also happened then.
When faced with plummeting budgets, innovative companies didn’t just stop training their people; instead, they looked for innovative solutions to replace traditional classroom training.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) and e-learning platforms (LMS) have become the go-to solution for budget-wary L&D leaders during the recession, and household names such as Udemy, Coursera, TalentLMS, and 360Learning were founded in 2010-2012.
It’s only natural that tech companies will look at learning platforms as a go-to solution for their learning needs, as they promise a 10-30x decrease in cost compared to classic learning and the ability to reach remote employees quickly.
However, the new generation of tech employees might find only some online learning platforms particularly exciting.
How tech employees are learning
Tech workers differ in their learning habits compared to any other type of employee.
An estimated 30-50% of their day-to-day job is dedicated to learning.
Technology is an ever-changing field; no employee can write code without researching, googling, searching Stackoverflow, going through public repositories on Git, and asking peers for help.
With their clever use of their tech tools, tech workers have the habit of learning in the flow of work and already do it without needing intervention from their L&D leaders.
So it’s no surprise that when pressed to take e-learning courses or video-based courses, tech employees are less than happy with the outcome and engagement.
When teamlearning.ai analyzed learning data from over 49,000 employees taking classes, tech workers were, on average, 70% less engaged when presented with static content than their non-tech counterparts.
They get what they need when needed, so slides or videos do not excite them.
So what works for tech employees?
The next generation of learning technology: TES.
The cost-cutting solution for L&D leaders is still online learning because of its ability to reach vast numbers of employees at a relatively low cost.
But classic solutions don’t seem to work.MOOCs and e-learning platforms have minimal appeal because of their relatively old technology that allows for primarily static content, which tech workers, with their constant search for the next tech innovation, find less appealing.
When we talked with tech employees and looked at the learning studies conducted in recent years (on a total of over 250,000 employees), what produces a positive effect for tech workers is Training Enablement Software (TES) solutions.
TES combines newer technologies, like collaborative digital whiteboarding, video-conferencing, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence, into dynamic experiences where people meet online to learn by exchanging ideas and knowledge on specific topics.
Compared to an LMS, TES brings a higher level of scalability and cost-saving due to more automation but engages users much deeper by playing on people’s desire to band together with peers and work towards a common goal.
Some of the core functionalities of TES platforms are radically different than how an LMS or a MOOC works:
Betting on online learning for their remote tech workers in the coming year will bring benefits and alleviate some of the pressure on L&D leaders, but only if the strategy and the tools work well together, keeping into account the specific profile of the tech worker.