Deloitte Leverages Design Thinking to Improve Workplace Learning

Not long ago, a friend of mine mentioned a report that Deloitte completes annually on Global Human Capital Trends. He thought I might be interested in it, not only as a business owner, but because it directly supports the importance of lifelong personalized learning.

The purpose of the report is to identify annually the top 10 trends businesses believe are prevalent in the management, growth and development of their most important asset – their people. Deloitte has undertaken the study for the last five years and in each year, has expanded the number of businesses it surveys. For the 2018 report, Deloitte surveyed executives in more than 10,000 businesses in 140 countries. Research is still ongoing for the 2019 report, with results expected to be released later this year.

We can look back through several years of surveys, however, to see certain themes emerge, particularly those related to the influence of technology, social media and generational change in the workplace. But what I found myself focused on, for obvious reasons, was the importance of learning in the workplace.

In the last two years 83 to 84 percent of respondents ranked learning as either important or very important. With the adoption of new work methodologies and technologies, the importance of workplace learning has grown. According to the study, employees consider workplace learning opportunities to be amongst the most important drivers of employee engagement and workplace culture. Workplace learning is thought of as not just a way to improve skills, but also essential to the employee’s own view of his/her value and what he/she can offer.

Today, we are seeing employees choose jobs based on the learning opportunities a company offers. Employers are beginning to understand that offering opportunities for continuous learning is essential to recruiting and retaining talent. There are many ways to accomplish this, and providing innovative solutions that are tailored to individual needs and schedules is important – in other words, personalized learning.

Systems for both active and passive learning are being discussed, developed and implemented. Businesses are creating internal tools and universities, teaming with outside educators and trainers, using online resources, and implementing badging and other forms of alternative credentialing.

At the same time, workplace environments are changing. In many cases, the change to more open environments with an emphasis on smaller workspaces and more common spaces has been the result of demands for greater collaboration, engagement and interaction; less individual work product and more group think. But how many businesses recognize the design of the workplace as an opportunity to improve workplace learning?

Intuitively, we understand that when you put two or three people who work on similar tasks near one another, they will learn from each other. But what about intentionally designing learning into that arrangement, rather than leaving it to happenstance?

Actually, design thinking is one of the top business concerns, too, according to the 2016 Deloitte study. Design thinking is a problem-solving tool that those of us in the design professions use every day. Applying this methodology to the design of work environments specifically to create space that fosters learning is the next logical step for companies implementing lifelong learning strategies for their most important assets.

Do you work at a corporation that is intentionally using design thinking to meet employee learning in the workplace? Have you seen successful examples of how businesses can incorporate learning into everyday workplace tasks? Tweet me.


“Employers are beginning to understand that offering learning is essential to recruiting and retaining talent.”
– Lauren Della Bella, President