We can all likely agree on the importance of providing learning and development (L&D) opportunities to employees. Yet, helping them identify the right path forward can be tricky. After all, every employee has unique experiences and learning preferences, which means no course or program is truly universal. However, rather than fretting about finding time to help every employee select the right content for their needs, you can consider using learning playlists — curated selections of recommended courses related to a particular topic. Learning playlists highlight content available in a specific topic area and can yield company-wide benefits when incorporated into your L&D strategy. Let’s examine how you can use playlists to your team’s advantage.

Playlists Give Learners Control

Creating learning pathways is a common approach to distributing learning content. For example, a new employee onboards with an organization in a leadership role. As part of their onboarding, they’re provided with a learning pathway that includes courses on various leadership topics. This employee must complete the entire pathway, comprising five required courses — but they already have ample experience in the topics covered by three of the five courses. In this example, the employee may learn some new, useful information. However, they’re also wasting time on unnecessary learning. Although learning pathways are well-intended, they aren’t always the most efficient or effective solution.

On the other hand, learning playlists offer suggested courses (rather than mandatory courses), which the learner can select to suit their specific needs. Instead of following a dedicated path, the learner can choose their own adventure, determining which courses in a playlist are relevant to them and focusing only on those courses, rather than engaging with superfluous content. Ultimately, this gives learners greater control over what they learn, meaning they can tailor their learning to their specific goals.

Playlists Help Managers Offer Support

For managers and leaders, playlists can provide a more casual approach to learning than assigning employees mandatory courses or pathways. Managers might consider allotting a specific amount of time per week for their team to spend on learning and providing a playlist, or multiple playlists, from which employees can choose courses. This approach allows managers to be less prescriptive about their team’s learning while still showing that they’re invested in employee growth and development. Accordingly, playlists can fuel a culture of learning across the business.

Playlists Take Pressure off L&D Teams

Playlists can take pressure off L&D teams without minimizing their business impact. As a substitute for manually creating learning paths, playlists let L&D teams spend less time searching for and compiling content. Playlists created by an organization’s content provider can also help L&D teams identify which content partners and courses they want to highlight for employees. Finally, L&D teams can announce new playlists regularly to ensure they continually engage employees in learning.

To help take the pressure off managers, here are a few actionable tips to start creating learning playlists:

1. Define your purpose.

The most successful learning playlists have thematic consistency and clarity of purpose, with each resource feeding into the next to create a greater whole. Whether you want to improve employees’ soft skills or upskill your team at Excel, your playlists must have clearly defined purposes. If you’re struggling with this step, ask yourself the following questions. What is the theme of this playlist? What key message should learners take away from this playlist? The answer to those key questions should guide you throughout the playlist creation process.

2. Select your target audience.

If defining the purpose of your playlist is the “what,” think of this step as the “who.” Is your playlist aimed at your entire organization? One specific team? New hires? Whatever the case, your playlists must have a well-thought-out target audience — a playlist aimed at new hires is likely to look vastly different than a playlist aimed at veteran managers.

3. Set clear learning objectives.

Clear learning objectives give everyone a common goal to strive for. Ask yourself, when your learners complete this playlist, what do you want them to take from it? What new skills or abilities should they have gained? The answer to these questions should help you set clear learning objectives. You should share these learning objectives with employees, ensuring everyone is working toward the same goals.

4. Consider the structure.

Although there is no hard and fast rule for structuring a learning playlist, different structures convey different meanings. For example, you may want to ease learners into the playlist with a shorter, more easily digestible course. Or, you may want to grab their attention with an interactive course. Ultimately, the most important thing is that each course feeds naturally into the next. For instance, you wouldn’t start your playlist with a course titled “PowerPoint for Experts,” and then follow it up with “Introduction to PowerPoint.” “Structure” refers to not only the order of the courses, but also visual structure and consistency.

5. Embrace various content types.

The best thing about a learning playlist is that learners can pick and choose which content is relevant to them. So, it can pay to offer a wide variety of content types to give learners more options and appeal to a broader range of learning styles. When compiling your playlist, don’t be afraid to mix it up with interactive content, microlearning, text-based quizzes, lectures and anything in between. Remember, playlists don’t have to feature only one type of learning content and are often less engaging if they do. As they say, variety is the spice of life!

While it’s easy to fall into the same old patterns of delivering learning to employees, adopting new strategies can be a great way to freshen up your L&D offerings. Learning playlists are a vital tool that allows you to offer learners the most relevant content for their needs while also giving them flexibility and control over their growth. If you want a more engaged workforce that is actively upskilling and reskilling, start using learning playlists and see the difference they can make to your organization.