Blog Post

3 Key Traits of High-Performing Education Initiatives

Robyn Hazelton
October 11, 2022
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Public and private companies have been bracing for an economic downturn by conducting mass layoffs, tightening budgets, and freezing hiring. 

What does this mean for the current state of education? 

It means your learning initiatives need to generate revenue and positive business outcomes. Teams that don’t build high-performing education initiatives could suffer negative consequences ranging from budget reductions to reductions in force.

But don’t worry — we’re here to help.

Intellum partnered with a third-party research firm to survey 500+ education leaders. Our goal? To pinpoint the specific educational practices that drive positive business outcomes.

The insights we uncovered substantiate what we’ve been teaching all along:

  • Education initiatives can’t be ad-hoc. 
  • Education initiatives must be formalized.
  • Education initiatives must be scalable.
  • Education initiatives must be curriculum-based

Before we dive into the details, let us first ask a question:

How Would You Describe Your Company’s Education Initiative?

We posed this question to our panel of 500 education leaders. We gave them five options (formalized, scalable, curriculum-based, informal, and ad-hoc) and said “select all that apply.”

As you can see from the above chart, 22% described their initiative as “ad-hoc.” 

When we conduct a cross-tabulation to examine the relationship between how education leaders describe their education initiatives and business outcomes of education initiatives, we see something unsurprising:

Companies with ad hoc education initiatives are least likely to see positive business outcomes (compared to companies with formalized, scalable, curriculum-based, or informal initiatives).

Additionally, while it might seem positive that half of the companies surveyed have a formalized, scalable, or curriculum-based initiative, if you dive a bit deeper, the picture’s less rosy. 

Ideally, An Organizational Education Initiative is Formalized, Scalable, and Curriculum-Based.

As the data shows — and as we’ve seen time and time again —high performing education initiatives have three traits in common:

  • Formalized
  • Scalable 
  • Curriculum-based 

Even so, just 4% describe their education initiative as formalized, scalable, and curriculum-based. 

This is a huge missed opportunity. 

Benefits associated with formalized education initiatives

A formalized education program is grounded in sound methodology: it’s goal-focused, audience-centric, and strategic (not only in terms of what content to create but also how to deliver it and measure its success). 

It’s no wonder, then, that companies with formalized education programs are most likely to experience improved customer and employee retention.

Benefits associated with scalable education initiatives.

Companies with scalable education initiatives are most likely to experience improved partner success. As you can see in the below chart, 54% of companies with scalable initiatives experienced improved partner success. 

Benefits associated with curriculum-based education initiatives. 

Companies with curriculum-based education initiatives are most likely to experience increased revenue. That’s because curriculum-based content is outcome-driven; it builds conceptual understanding and teaches specific competencies. 

If you were learning to drive a car for the first time, would you begin by pulling out your car’s owner manual? Of course not. You’d sign up for a driver’s ed course to learn the competencies needed to be a safe and confident driver — in chunks, over time.

Interestingly, companies providing curriculum-based training are least likely to struggle with learner abandonment — the No. 1 organizational education challenge.

This could indicate curriculum-based content tends to be higher quality, however that isn’t necessarily the case. Some curriculum-based workplace education—such as employee training—is mandatory. 

Provide Informal Learning Opportunities, Too. 

Additionally, informal education is a critical component of workplace education. This is because people learn socially through observation, collaboration, and community—both in-person and remote. 

Yet while informal learning occurs constantly, only 30% of education leaders described their education initiative as informal, perhaps due to a misguided negative perception of the word.  

Think back to our example of learning to drive a car. After you complete your curriculum-based driver’s ed course, you would reach for the car owner’s manual as needed. 

Similarly, customers, employees, and partners take advantage of informal learning opportunities (e.g., webinars, forums, Slack communities) to continue, or enrich, their understanding. 

How does your education initiative stack up?

About the Author

Robyn Hazelton headshot
Robyn Hazelton
Vice President of Marketing and Growth
Robyn is the VP of Marketing and Growth at Intellum and helps to ensure that every interaction an individual has with the brand is as awesome as possible. An experienced and trusted leader with a history of consistently impacting revenue, she's always talking about funnel management and biased toward action.