· News

The future of L&D? Think Netflix

Santander has started looking to external inspiration to shape its L&D strategies

Organisations should look to the media for innovative examples of L&D, according to Santander's head of learning and development strategy Robert Ashcroft.

Speaking at the CIPD's Learning and Development Show, Ashcroft recounted Santander’s ongoing L&D transformation. He said the aim was to build an experience relevant to employees today.

“We’re in the midst of a transformation at Santander, which is happening as we speak. Over the past few years we’d become stuck in the monotony of workbooks, and ultimately nothing was changing,” he said.

Rather than opting for traditional L&D strategies Santander has started looking to external inspiration for its approach.

“I don’t compare my department to other L&D departments, I look to Netflix. I look at what Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are doing that’s groundbreaking in television; I look at what Facebook is doing, and how it seems to know what I’m thinking about before I do,” Ashcroft said.

“When I look at what’s going on around me I start questioning why we’re still using workbooks and e-learning," he added. "There’s a wealth of resources from brilliant academics on learning and development available, but as a corporate L&D professional, when we look at how quickly technology is changing, I begin to wonder if our workplace transformation can keep up with the pace of consumer experiences."

An emphasis on emotion and human experience could help to make L&D far more memorable, Ashcroft added.

“As human beings we love experiences; we relish theatre, gigs and live comedy," he said. "We’ve seen how social media can help us to feel part of a larger-scale world, so how can we do the same with learning and development? How can we provide experiences for consumers and employees that will get them to talk about what they’ve just seen?"

Ashcroft went on to explain that L&D professionals should look to “content structures” to improve learning, referencing a recent decision to introduce a 'Netflix'-style interface for employees to access learning materials.

He added that while he'd encourage businesses to adopt technology and innovate to improve L&D, there are affordable ways of doing so.

"It doesn't have to be expensive. It costs far less to pay for video content than it would to hire an instructional e-learner. It just involves having people who are able to write scenes and tell your story."