Working Smarter With the 70:20:10 Framework

The 70:20:10 framework – where 70% of the learning is on the job, 20% from colleagues and 10% from formal courses and reading – is proving an effective tool to support the transition of learning and development to the new world of work. The workplace is becoming increasingly flexible and borderless – the traditional nine to five is rapidly phasing out. Learning now needs to be just as fluid as the mobile collaboration that employees have come to expect as part of their working life.

Organisations that are allowing employees to work smarter, whether at home, at work or during business travel, and on the device of their choice, are also exploring how to make learning content available anytime, anywhere and on any device. Mobile learning provides on-the-job relevance (the main part of the 70:20:10 approach), and performance support is provided at the point of need.

The 20% element of the 70:20:10 approach recognises that people learn from people and that informal learning has an important part to play. A good first step in creating a knowledge sharing culture is to find out what leaders know and how this could be useful for their teams. It is crucial that both HR and employees recognise that important knowledge sharing in the workplace can take place through wikis, web-meetings and even informal chats.

How to embed 70:20:10

Here are five easy steps that you can take when starting to work with the 70:20:10 model:

  • Have a clear strategy in mind: It is vital to document what you want to achieve with the 70:20:10 approach, as well as why and when. At the same time it may be necessary to abandon the traditional ‘command and control’ learning framework and allow the learner a lot more autonomy.
  • Be a good communicator: Employees need to understand the importance of learning beyond the classroom, so express it in clear, relevant language, both online and offline. Introduce the 70:20:10 framework and its advantages to all members of staff across all subsidiaries and hierarchy levels to get them on board. Have a global communications strategy in place so that colleagues can communicate smoothly across borders with fewer errors and misunderstandings. For example, a developer in Brazil can reach out to a colleague in Japan to ask for advice if both have a common business language; this will usually require the business to support their employees in foreign language training.
  • Don’t forget the human factor: If budget allows, let employees spend some time in a different subsidiary abroad and meet their international colleagues face to face instead of only talking via virtual meetings. This can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience, both personally and professionally, and can motivate employees to improve their language and communication skills and widens their cultural awareness.
  • Remember that one size will not fit all: 70:20:10 is a broad framework and the proportions will vary depending on function, industry, seniority level and the countries involved.
  • Before starting a 70:20:10 initiative, plan how you will measure the results: One approach could be to ask employees to keep a log of their learning and development under each heading.

Motivated employees will drive the 70:20:10 themselves, once they understand the benefits, and will seek out more learning opportunities suited to their schedules. A famous quote goes, “What if you invest in your employees and they leave?” “Well what if you don’t, and they stay?” Whatever happens, those of us who think ahead and encourage our teams to continue learning and growing will ultimately be the ones to attract retain a productive and motivated workforce.

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