Just-in-time learning is an effective educational approach to training and development for modern workplaces. It’s a great way to ensure that employees have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful.
But what exactly is Just-in-time learning? What benefits can you derive from it as an organization?
That’s what this article will unpack.
Let’s get started.
What is just-in-time learning?
Just-in-time learning allows employees instant access to learning materials as needed when needed. So, rather than waiting for a specific time, such as an annual training event, you provide learning content and activities ad hoc. In practice, it means that learners are not overloaded with information or skills that they may not need anytime soon.
Just to give you a better understanding of what just-in-time learning is, let’s discuss briefly how it came about.
The car manufacturer Toyota came up with the approach after years of trial and error. The company would only make cars that people ordered once they placed an order and in the amount needed. The aim was to bring the parts to the warehouse only when they were needed and ready for installation. This approach proved efficient as it eliminated unnecessary waste.
So, the main goal of the just-in-time approach in the workplace, just as it was in the car manufacturing industry, is still efficiency.
When applied to employee learning and development strategies, the approach allows employers to provide updated knowledge and skills immediately to learners. As a result, they can start using the new skills in the workplace right away.
Just-in-time learning is the opposite of just-in-case learning. In the just-in-case method, learners need to consume information at once without it necessarily being relevant for use at the moment. In the just-in-case method, you don’t address gaps as you see them. Students learn the theory and hope they can implement them sometime in the future.
Here are some of the other differences between just-in-time and just-in-case learning techniques:
The just-in-time methodology can be especially beneficial for learners in fields that are constantly changing and evolving, such as technology and healthcare.
With just-in-time learning, learners can stay up-to-date on the latest information and trends in their field. This is as opposed to just-in-case learning, where learners commit large amounts of time and energy to memorize what could be already-outdated material.
3 Benefits of just-in-time learning in the workplace
Why should you implement just-in-time learning in the workplace? Here are the learning method’s three main advantages:
- Improved employee performance. As mentioned earlier, just-in-time learning can help employees stay up to date on the latest trends and techniques in their field. This way they become more productive and efficient in their roles. This results in improved performance.
- Greater employee engagement. Just-in-time learning encourages employees to take ownership of their development. By allowing them to access the training they need when they need it, they are more likely to engage in the learning process.
- Speedy and effective learning process. Employees don’t have to wait for a scheduled class or training event, which can come at a much later time. The method also allows employees to learn at their own pace, which can mean better learning outcomes.
So, how do you introduce this approach into your business?
How to implement just-in-time learning in the workplace
Implementing new practices in the workplace may be hard for many reasons. Changing existing processes may be time-consuming and lead to confusion among employees.
That said, here are five tips you should follow to ensure a seamless implementation of just-in-time learning at work:
1. Assess the current training approach
Before your company introduces the learning technique, you need to assess your current training approach. The assessment should include an analysis of the organization’s current training methods. Depending on a business’s needs, your workplace may use one or more of the following training approaches:
- Instructor-led training
- Simulation employee training
- Group discussion and activities
Your assessment should answer how effective the training is in the workplace. This should help you identify what works and what doesn’t.
Getting feedback from your managers is also important. Speak with the leaders and ask about the common training struggles.
Send a questionnaire to your employees to ask their opinion on the common issues they face in the workplace, too. They can help you identify any gaps in the current training process.
Find out the type of information people consider essential to perform their jobs well. Ask them, too, whether they like to consume that kind of information using the current format. If they prefer a different training format, ask them what this is.
You can use an online survey tool to collect your employees' opinions. Create a survey to collect and understand employee feedback. Here’s Together’s survey builder dashboard, which allows you to do just that. You can also use the platform’s built-in templates to save time.
Once you gather all the information, you’ll find it easier to determine potential areas of improvement. From there, you can start looking for just-in-time training solutions to implement.
2. Decide which topics and training resources need to be just-in-time
Once you assess your workplace’s current training approach, you should identify which training resources need to be just-in-time. This is also important, as not every piece of training content can be transformed into Just-in-time learning content.
Go back to your employee survey. Your employees must have given you an idea of the information they need to perform their job well.
Based on their answers, check which information is constantly evolving. For instance, if you’re in the SaaS industry, you need to keep your marketers and SaaS marketing techniques up-to-date with the latest trends. Or if you’re a marketing agency, you should also make your employees aware of marketing trends as they come.
These, then, are the topics that require just-in-time resources.
Once you’ve identified the evolving topics, go back to your survey results again. Check out how your employees would like to consume training content. Depending on their preferences, they’ll answer one or more of the following:
- Instructional videos
- Training publications
Now you know the topics and resources to cover with your just-in-time approach. The best part about this strategy is that it’s based on what your employees want. So, once you have your just-in-time resources ready, chances are, your employees will consume them.
3. Create bite-sized digestible training content
People’s ability to focus is limited to four to five hours a day. That’s why creating bite-sized and digestible training content is essential. When you break down your training content into smaller, more manageable bits, learners can fit more information in that limited amount of time.
Besides, the more bite-sized your training content is, the more likely employees will consume them in the first place, too. People are easily turned off if you give them too many pages to read or long videos to watch, after all. Let me give you a case study to illustrate this point.
When pawTree broke up into small bits of information its training modules for new sales representatives, a whopping 90% of sales reps completed the course.
So, don’t bombard employees with tons of new information. Instead, create a few minute-long modules. Just to give you an idea of what “short” means, each of the tasks required for completion of pawTree’s learning course lasted for an average of seven minutes. But if you want to be absolutely sure about how long your modules should be, include this as a question in your employee feedback survey.
Here are other best practices to ensure your training content is digestible:
- Stick to short paragraphs
- Focus on one single training need per training module. Your modules should focus solely on addressing actual competency gaps.
- Incorporate real-world scenarios into your content to provide context.
You can use a content generator tool to help you summarize long paragraphs for inclusion in your training resources. With Ask Writer, for instance, you just need to insert a prompt.
Make sure your final training content looks good on multiple devices and platforms like laptops, tablets, and mobiles. Use online course platforms to make your modules accessible via the Internet, too. This way, your learners can easily access your modules even when they’re on the go. If you’re up for it, you can even sell those courses to outsiders.
4. Enable mentorship through senior employees
Mentorship is an important part of workplace learning. It can give employees the opportunity to ask questions and get personalized guidance from senior employees. The result is that you foster a culture of continuous learning within the workplace. Besides, mentorship is great for relationship-building. Mentees and mentors socialize throughout the learning process.
Also, with mentorship, you improve your reputation as an employer, which in turn, improves retention rates and helps you attract more talent. When mentorship programs are core to your culture, employees will feel like you invest in their development. Mentors, meanwhile, will feel like you trust them to be the face of the company. They’ll feel like you recognize their skills and their value to the organization.
But how is mentorship related to just-in-time learning?
Well, mentorship is just-in-time learning. At the same time, it can help reinforce what employees learn with your Just-in-time content on their own time. By enabling mentorship, organizations can maximize the effectiveness of these Just-in-time training initiatives.
Just make sure you choose your mentors wisely. A good mentor is an advocate, a coach, a listening ear, and a guide. They should be able to encourage their mentees and give honest feedback.
5. Leverage social learning with peers
Social learning is an effective way to tap into the collective knowledge and experience of a workplace. Social learning, like mentorship, is just-in-time learning.
With social learning, employees can learn from their peers, who share their experiences and knowledge in a collaborative environment. This can help learners better understand their job roles and increase their knowledge and skills. Together, peers can ask questions as the need arises and discuss topics some of them may have already read about in your Just-in-time resources.
You can provide social learning opportunities by organizing meetings (either live or online), introducing discussion boards, and live chat.
Social learning comes with other benefits. Apart from ensuring efficient learning, it helps employees develop better communication and collaboration skills. In other words, by tapping into social learning, organizations can create a more knowledgeable and engaged workforce that is better prepared for the future.
Just-in-time learning is an effective way to ensure that your employees have the skills and knowledge to succeed in your workplace. Just-in-time training is the perfect way to ensure your staff can work in fast-paced environments.
To ensure the success of just-in-time learning, assess your current training approach and decide which training resources need to be just-in-time. Also, create bite-sized and digestible training content, enable mentorship through senior employees, and leverage social learning with peers.
By implementing these best practices, your company can create an environment that encourages continuous employee improvement. You can also ensure you have well-skilled employees who will contribute to the growth and success of the company.
So, if you haven’t already, start implementing your just-in-time approach in your workplace now.