I’m a newbie at Saffron and to the learning technologies industry, although a fairly recent graduate. So, learning itself has been more hands on…or rather theorising has been. As a new entrant, I’ve undergone an induction programme, similar to the one most new hires go through at a company, although Saffron’s is wide ranging and very structured.

I recognise that having a good induction plays a big part in the performance of new starters and affects how quickly or slowly they can be competent in their roles in an organisation – helping them to start contributing quickly or be considered a drain on existing staff.

I found the traditional elements of the training (face to face, elearning, webinars, podcasts) pleasant, manageable and effective. Everything made sense and I thought I had understood everything until it came time to putting my newfound knowledge to the test. The problem wasn’t the method of training, it was the lack of practice. I hadn’t practiced saving and committing my work on our versioning system or setting up a new account in Salesforce, outside of a training session.

Cognitive overload

During the induction period, new starters are usually given a whole lot of information to take in. If these new starters aren’t given the support they need, they may begin to suffer from cognitive overload which could significantly hinder their performance going forward. Cognitive overload is a common phenomenon and quite literally the brain shuts down and a person can’t physically perform because their brain can’t process and can’t make decisions.

Performance support tools like Saffron eaSe and Skillsbot can help ease the pressure new employees face and even help them learn faster. The way that these tools do this is by enabling the person to do a task as and when they need to do it. There is no embarrassment factor of having to ask someone else; no waiting around or frantic searching of the intranet or internet and no feelings of stress that they are not up to the job. Workflow tools build confidence and reduce the stress of having to remember how to do every step across many different systems and processes. They support the person to be able to do all those nitty gritty things that any veteran in the organisation takes for granted.

Are work flow tools just a fad?

It might seem that everyone is suddenly talking about these tools in the same way that VR was going to revolutionise the learning market two years ago, but as a learner myself, I see the value of these tools at a practical level. They are “on-demand” in the same way that my films, videos and music are. I’m genuinely delighted when I accomplish something from start to finish on my own (using the workflow tools!). They give me confidence to be able to put things into practice and build on what I’ve done already. They make me feel that I’m adding value to the organisation because I can be self-sufficient. They give me time to be more creative or to learn more about different things such as Google Analytics!

And the benefits to employers? Aside from giving my managers more time to get on with their day job rather than having to be stopped every 2 minutes to answer my questions, it allows a quicker time for new hires to get settled in, ensures that common standards are followed in processes, reduces mistakes, makes employees happy to learn more and contribute more.

It fully supports the 70 in the 70/20/10 model whilst letting the mentorship aspects of the “20” be more rewarding for both the mentor and mentee and the 10 be more targeted towards real developmental needs. So personally, I don’t think work flow tools – whether you call them point of need or Electronic Performance Support (EPS) – are a fad. I think they are an absolute necessity in the modern age to create a continuous learning culture and to encourage innovation in the workforce.