Learning and development (L&D) professionals face a dilemma – infinite possibilities and finite bandwidth. Many L&D leaders bring on a learning solutions partner to increase their capacity and achieve their goals. Working with the right learning solutions partner can do a lot to unlock your organization’s potential. On the other hand, working with one that is not a good fit, or that uses outdated methods and materials, can waste your budget and time.
So how do you unearth the learning solutions partners that will work for your organization? Having been on the other end of that process ourselves, we’ve found our most savvy clients came to the table with five questions in mind. We answered their questions and proved that Blue Ocean Brain could meet their needs.
1. Do they have proof that their solution works?
As you talk with learning solutions partners, ask to see some client success stories (case studies). Look carefully at the results their clients achieved. You want to see organizations not only providing training, but also demonstrating big-picture results in recruitment, retention, and productivity—results that were made possible using the learning solution your prospective partner designed.
For example, Blue Ocean Brain illustrates our track record through our Client Success Stories. One such story describes our partnership with Atlantic Health System. We created a custom diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) learning program to help Atlantic Health System meet its goals of educating, recruiting, and retaining employees. Two years after launching the learning solution, the organization had a 7% increase in diverse hires, and other tangible results.
Other metrics you might be able to request and consider include:
- The number of visits to the microlearning platform.
- The percentage of employees using the platform.
- How long do individual users stay on the platform, and how many exercises do they complete?
- What employees say about the solution in surveys and to supervisors.
- Feedback from managers.
Athene uses microlearning content and engagement tactics developed by Blue Ocean Brain; their team regularly collaborates with us on learning schedules, selecting their lessons from Blue Ocean Brain’s 1,500-lesson library. Because building a strong learning culture was one of their strategic goals, engagement was an important metric for measuring success. Since introducing Blue Ocean Brain's platform and courses, Athene has been seeing consistent 50-75% engagement rates. Again, it is worth asking to see these kinds of results.
2. How well do they communicate?
You want to find out whether a learning solutions partner will treat you like their most valuable client or be hard to reach just when you need them. Ask the company’s representative questions about exactly how they communicate with their partners. Questions to ask the company include:
- What will the communication between us look like?
- Will we have a client success manager or other liaison we talk to regularly?
- What is your process for gathering information from administrators and subject matter experts to create and design the courses?
- How often will you give us progress reports?
- What would your partners say about your communication style?
Confirm what the learning solutions partner says about their communication by calling their references. Call and talk to a person who worked closely with the partner, listening closely to determine if the partner will be a good fit for your organization. Note: Don’t send them an email reference check, because you want to hear the nuances of what the reference is saying and be able to ask follow-up questions.
3. Do they use a proven microlearning platform?
Microlearning breaks the content down into short segments for employees to digest where and when they have time, solving the biggest challenge facing L&D leaders: Getting employees to make time for training. When vetting learning solutions companies, look closely at their microlearning platform. You want to see a solution that is:
- Accessible (from anywhere, on any device),
- Multimodal (uses visual and auditory elements well),
- Delivering new content frequently,
- Supported by adaptive learning technology,
- Engaging with employees, and
- Easily searchable.
You also want to make sure the microlearning platform tracks which topics are getting the most plays, and who is using the system. Managers pay attention and remind team members who have not completed their training to do so.
Finally, take time to assess the quality of the videos the company presents. Are they thoughtfully curated to maximize engagement? Are they shot in a studio with a green screen and graphics? Or are they shot on the plant floor, emergency room, or wherever is relevant to your employees?
4. Are soft skills like DEI training, wellness coaching, and creativity incorporated into the learning solution?
If your company is like many others, you are intent on helping employees improve their soft skills. Learning solutions partners vary in their soft skills training capabilities. Some, like Blue Ocean Brain, deliver research-based lessons on many soft skills. We have out-of-the-box solutions and develop customized programs, as well. To assess a learning solutions partner’s strengths in soft skills training consider:
- Is the training based on the latest research?
- Are lessons interactive?
- Do the lessons improve employees’ creativity?
- How are diversity, equity, and inclusion included in the training?
- Does the training improve employees’ well-being?
- Are employees encouraged to think big?
Ceridian, a global leader in human capital management technology, partnered with Blue Ocean Brain to strengthen the inclusivity of its workplace. Our team used soft skills learning solutions to support this work. “Our amazing partners at Blue Ocean Brain help us build DEI into our company’s DNA," says Donnebra McClendon, global head of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
5. How does the learning solutions partner mesh with IT?
Adopting a new learning solution is a piece of cake when an out-of-the-box solution is delivered via cloud-based technology. Look for a microlearning system that can layer into your existing learning ecosystem and makes for a seamless employee experience. If you are considering a custom learning system, find out what your in-house developers’ roles will be and how the review process will work. You want to feel comfortable about trusting them as experts on microlearning.
A robust microlearning platform produces eye-catching content regularly to attract employees. The goal is to support learning as a daily habit and push traffic to your other learning solutions.
When you have decided who to bring on as a learning solutions partner, ensure your agreement is in writing and you understand the details. With expectations spelled out, you will be prepared for a smooth deployment of your new learning solution.
For more information on how Blue Ocean Brain can help you with microlearning and training on soft skills, click here to schedule a consultation with one of our learning experts.