The Global Center for Digital Business Transformation forecast that by 2020, four out of 10 organizations will be displaced or cease to exist due to digital disruption. Digitalization and social trends are reshaping business like never before. New social contracts and the explosion of consumer-driven mobile devices are reframing the workplace. In addition, we have the most diverse, multi-generational workforce in history.

At the same time, though, there are workforce challenges. One of the most significant issues, both from an economic and company culture perspective, is that of employee disengagement. Gallup reports that one disengaged employee costs an organization approximately $3,400 for every $10,000 in annual salary. Actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. economy an estimated $450 to $550 billion annually, due to lost productivity.

In light of the financial and productivity costs of disengagement, how can we create a workforce that is more engaged and productive? This question becomes even more pressing when we realize that 50 percent of jobs across all sectors will require technical acumen and new skills over the next few years.

To keep up with this skills surge, the answer is to provide employees with continuous learning and development via new digital social learning opportunities. Research by Josh Bersin reveals that this type of ongoing learning spurs a quest for new solutions. Continuous learning cultures are:

  • 92 percent more likely to develop novel products and processes
  • 56 percent more likely to be first to market with products and services
  • 52 percent more productive
  • 30 to 50 percent higher in retention and engagement rates
  • 17 percent more profitable than their peers

New ways to learn

Creating a continuous learning culture calls for traditional top-down hierarchical organizations to change their approach. Learning and development in a corporate-centric learning universe has historically been organized by functions. In this model, L&D, HR, business and compliance pushed learning sanctioned by the company.

But energizing an organization with digital social learning puts learners in the driver’s seat and gives them ownership of their own educational path. Learning becomes digitized, not just digital. Rather than merely transferring current training assets to an online platform, learning content is pulled through curation, facilitation, coaching and experts. In this scenario, networks of agile teams work and learn together. This creates a high degree of empowerment and communication, with real-time access to knowledge and expertise.

A continuous learning enables personalized learning on demand, empowering employees to learn what they want, when they want. Social and mobile networking tools and access to the organization’s experts support informal skills building, engagement and collaboration. An environment that enables secure knowledge sharing also facilitates learning across the enterprise.

This is the kind of best-in-class digital workplace experience that not only creates the skilled workforce organizations need but also creates the productivity that drives business goals and the engagement that keeps employees from seeking greener pastures.


Ryan Rose

Director of Product Management for Skills & Certifications

Cisco Learning & Certifications