Learning & Development

More Companies Are Investing in Social Learning

Bersin by Deloitte’s The Corporate Learning Factbook® 2013: Benchmarks, Trends, and Analysis of the U.S. Training Market (www.bersin.com/clf-us) found that “spending and resource allocations differ markedly, depending on the L&D organization’s focus and effectiveness.” In 2012, mature U.S. companies spent 34 percent more than companies at the lowest maturity level—with an average expenditure of $867 per learner compared to $706.

Bersin by Deloitte also reports that companies are leveraging social learning as a “catalyst for the transformation in L&D.” In fact, large companies spent an average of about $46,000 on social learning in 2012—nearly triple their 2010 expenditure.


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“Social learning can be extremely effective when incorporated into a more structured program, such as combining a formal course with a learner-discussion forum,” Bersin by Deloitte explains. “In addition, high-impact organizations are becoming more effective at creating employee networks, connecting novices to experts through expertise directories, and sharing knowledge through communities of practice. In this way, social learning, combined with formal programs, experiential learning, and ongoing support and reinforcement, is facilitating a shift from blended training programs to continuous learning environments.”

The study also found that U.S. companies have increased their spending on products and services, allocating, on average, 16 percent of their training budgets to external learning services—an increase from 12 percent in 2009.

In addition, the study found an overall drop in the ratio of training staff to learners. “Although many training teams added staff during the year, these additions were outpaced by faster growth in learning populations. As a result, the overall ‘footprint,’ or ratio of training staff relative to the learner population, continued to decline in many companies,” Bersin by Deloitte reports. “This trend is one sign of the changing role of the L&D function, which no longer is ‘the place’ for learning. Instead, the role of the L&D team is to facilitate and enable learning.”


“As the pace of innovation accelerates, and companies look to expand their operations, employees should acquire more specialized skills and adapt to a workplace that grows more transient, mobile, and self serving—what we call the ‘borderless workplace,’” said Bersin by Deloitte’s Karen O’Leonard, lead analyst, benchmarking, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“Modern learning organizations are embracing these changes by rethinking how they operate to closely align with business needs. For U.S. organizations, that means committing more dollars to develop internal talent and to build the desired skills for competitive advantage,” says O’Leonard.