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23 - 24 April 2025 | ExCeL London

17 - 18 April 2024 | ExCeL London

Too Busy for Training? Overcome Time Constraints by Incorporating Learning in the Flow of Work

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Too Busy for Training? Overcome Time Constraints by Incorporating Learning in the Flow of Work

Kat Giroux
Too Busy for Training? Overcome Time Constraints by Incorporating Learning in the Flow of Work

Discover how to integrate training into everyday work tasks to facilitate continuous learning, improve employee performance, and enhance productivity.

Quality learning and development (L&D) programs foster happier, more effective employees — and help companies stay agile in an age of rapidly changing skill needs. Even so, many organizations struggle to prioritize training, as professional development often gets pushed aside to handle the day-to-day tasks required to keep a business running.

So, what’s the solution? How do you create meaningful learning opportunities in a busy work environment with limited time and conflicting priorities? In this article, discover how learning in the flow of work delivers hyper-relevant, high-impact training — without taking time away from everyday responsibilities.

 

What does it mean to learn in the flow of work?

Learning in the flow of work means breaking training into small, problem- or task-specific chunks that employees can easily reference without having to step away from work or sift through extraneous content. This is often referred to as just-in-time (JIT) or performance support training. It equips employees with the resources they need when and where they need them.

The following examples demonstrate how different industries might incorporate learning in the flow of work:

A manufacturing plant might attach QR codes to machines, linking employees to maintenance history and instructions for the next scheduled task. For retail or sales teams, L&D specialists might develop a digital repository of searchable product microlearning that associates can quickly pull up on their tablets during customer interactions.

Bank representatives could click on links within internal company software for pop-up tutorials while performing tasks or troubleshooting.

Employees in these examples don’t need to pause their work and move to a separate location to take training. They also aren’t forced to wade through information that isn’t relevant to the task at hand. JIT training is all about providing quick support for real-time challenges.

 

Benefits of learning in the flow of work

By design, learning in the flow of work is a timely, relevant, contextual, and incremental approach to workplace training. While traditional classroom instruction tends to frontload training before the employee performs tasks, JIT training enables employees to learn as they go. Here’s how these characteristics translate to benefits for employers and employees:

Immediate application = increased learning efficacy and retention. Employees don’t access training until they need it. They also apply what they’ve learned immediately in a real-world context, increasing knowledge retention and combatting the forgetting curve.

Needs-driven = more relevant and engaging. JIT learning involves an element of self-selection, as employees actively ‘opt in’ for additional support. Training is directly applicable to employees’ current tasks or goals, making it inherently more engaging.

Task-integrated = more efficient and less disruptive to work. Work and learning happen concurrently in JIT training. That means no task switching and no lengthy classroom training sessions interrupting employees’ schedules or workflows. Employees only take the training they need—at the moment they need it—increasing overall training efficiency.

The JIT approach excels at addressing immediate work challenges and reinforcing learning. Additionally, it serves as a valuable tool for keeping employees updated in dynamic environments with rapidly-changing information or skill demands.

However, it’s important to know when learning in the flow of work isn’t the best training method. For example, JIT training isn’t effective at teaching complex or broader subjects that require extensive knowledge or foundational skill-building.

 

Enabling learning in the flow of work

So, how can businesses best incorporate learning in the flow of work? The most challenging part of developing JIT training is ensuring that content is both immediately relevant and easily accessible to employees when they need it. Here are a few tips to help you adapt:

Focus on a single, solvable problem at a time. JIT resources cannot—and should not—try to cover everything about a given subject. Instead, aim to pinpoint a specific problem or need that could be tackled with short and snappy learning interventions.

Insert ‘nudges’ at key learning points. When and where do employees encounter problems, make decisions, or need additional support? Insert brief, contextual ‘nudges’ , or cues, at these moments to surface helpful learning resources.

Make content punchy. The best JIT interventions strike a balance between concise and impactful. So, get creative. How can you maximize training impact using minimal words? While the answer depends on your content, you might try using charts or diagrams, short-form videos, GIFs, practice scenarios, or interactive process graphics and checklists.

Design for easy and mobile access. Improve searchability by storing and organizing training content in one place. A robust e-learning platform, for example, gives employees a central, digital location to reference for all their training questions. In addition, choose a platform that automatically adapts training to any device, allowing employees to seamlessly access materials whether they’re at their desks, in the field, or on the go.

 

Summary table

Time constraints are real—but employees want to learn and grow and busy work schedules shouldn’t eliminate learning and development opportunities. Just-in-time training provides a framework for embedding learning as a continual and integrated part of employees’ workdays.

The table below provides a quick summary of what JIT does and does not entail.

What JIT training is

What JIT training is not
Embedded in work Separate from work
Short-form Long-form
Focused on solving a specific and immediate problem, question, task, or need Comprehensive or exhaustive
Self-paced and on-demand Pre-scheduled, time-bound, or mandated

Useful for reinforcing learning, addressing immediate work challenges or questions, and providing on-the-job performance support

Useful for teaching complex subjects or building foundational knowledge

 

While not a magic cure or perfect solution to all your training needs, JIT resources can be a helpful piece of the larger puzzle to unlock workplace learning.

Want more tips to optimize training efficiency? Check out this free community resource on separating need-to-know from nice-to-know information.

 

Kat Giroux Kat Giroux

Senior Content Writer at Articulate

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