A sometimes-overlooked role of HR in organizations is to manage the dissemination of important information among all employees. HR is the hub that makes sure the right content is delivered in the right ways. That becomes even more important when creating and providing training materials for those learning about a new role, tool, or process.
Let’s take a look at how HR leaders can manage that content, a.k.a. “content curation.”
What is Content Curation?
You may have heard of content curation in other fields, where it typically refers to an active list of resources that is updated with the latest information or best picks. A playlist of songs from your favorite genre may be curated content, or a collection of stories in a monthly publication. Broadly, it means content that is carefully chosen for a specific purpose by an expert in the field.
In the HR world, content curation refers to the process of finding, organizing, and sharing the most effective training materials to teach employees new skills and offer the latest information. This is common when planning corporate training strategies involving more complex skills. There is a lot of information available in these cases, especially online, and HR’s job is to find the most authoritative, accessible options. An easy way to look at this is through five key steps:
- Identify: Content curation begins by understanding the exact goals of the training program–what specific skills or lessons need to be taught? What should employees walk away knowing, or be able to do successfully? If the training had a pass/fail state, what would it be? Once this is clear, HR leaders can begin gathering sources of content to address these goals. At this stage, it’s not important to worry as much about authoritative or useful sources; the focus is on gathering sources from a wide variety of places and formats so you have plenty of options to begin with.
- Filter: Once a library of information has been collected, it is time to filter it. A large base of information is of no use for training employees–there’s too much data, and not all of it will be useful or qualify for your training goals. Here, HR needs to locate subject matter experts, also called SMEs, to filter the sources and identify the guides that will be most effective in training newcomers. Experience is key here. In some cases, the Identify and Filter steps may be closely connected, depending on how HR is coordinating with SMEs.
- Contextualize: Now that content has been narrowed down to the best sources for the training, SMEs have another important role to fill. They should organize the content and provide context so that trainees know why it is there, how to use it, and what it means in context of their training goals. That often means providing introductions and explanations for the content being used. As this happens, the final version of the training materials will start to take shape. After context is provided, materials generally go through a final editing phase.
- Share: It is now time to share the content with learners. This is a very flexible step that varies based on the training program. Sometimes content is shared in single pieces based on what employees need to know and when. Other times, content is organized into a full lesson for a training course that spans several days, or perhaps employees need to access the same content at different times based on their learning phases. Part of this step is knowing in what ways content will be shared. Will it be available through a permanent online platform? A handbook? A series of PDFs? A temporary portal? Since this can take some setup, some parts of the Share step are best started early on.
- Continuous improvement: Training content is rarely designed as a one-off event that won’t be repeated. Many types of training are cyclical or will also be applied to new positions or employees. Continuous improvement refers to getting feedback on the training content, and then optimizing it for future use. This could include steps like clarifying confusing sections, adding more quizzes, or adjusting how content is organized.
The Benefits of Content Curation
Using thorough content curation for training has many advantages, including:
- Decisions about content are made by SMEs, who can also provide their own insights, which is far more effective than offering a loosely-organized series of links or downloads.
- Content curation allows organizations to customize content specifically for employees, and make it easier for the average employee to learn.
- Once resources are created, they are generally available to employees at all times, so they can brush up on skills or seek new information whenever they need it. This type of self-directed learning has become a crucial part of today’s training programs.
- Content curation can include motivation and encouragement for employees, as well as recognizing SMEs and others for their direct contributions.
- The materials are typically organized in a way to be useful for years to come, and can be easily offered as resources for other types of learning.
- A focus on high-quality training content and self-directed learning can foster an overall culture of continuous learning where employees aren’t afraid to grow their skills or solve problems through research.
Content Curation Strategy for Corporate Learning
Several different strategies can be used during content creation, depending on the type of training. Common strategies include these four approaches (which can be used individually or together throughout the curation process):
Alignment begins with contacting employees and making sure that content is aligned with what they need. Open communication can include surveys, employee focus groups, brainstorming sessions with your team, and more. Alignment can focus on how employees would prefer to learn. In more open-ended training, it can begin by focusing on what employees want to learn. Either way, Alignment helps the workforce feel like their input is important, and helps them invest in the learning experience. Alignment can also include monitoring techniques like tracking the usage of past resources and watching for problematic content so those mistakes won’t be repeated.
Integration starts with the structure of the learning experience. In other words, how should the content be integrated into the employee experience? Is it better to create a full course like a traditional online class with quizzes as benchmarks? Would a directory of carefully labeled resources be more useful for employees to choose from as needed? The content should always integrate with employee schedules, task management, and learning preferences. Not every structure will work for every organization.
Accessibility focuses on making training content as available as possible, via multiple channels. This is a common strategy when fostering a continuous learning environment. At minimum, content should be accessible as online guides and supplemental materials that can be used at any time. Digital content should also be readily accessible on mobile devices (which means relying on downloads like PDFs isn’t always a good practice), and should be easy to understand no matter how employees are accessing it. That includes basic accessibility like clear fonts, high text contrast, navigation-friendly menus, and language that is easy to understand.
Evolution refers to taking existing content (which you may or may not have helped create in the past) and finding ways to improve it. It is similar to the Continuous Improvement step above: Leaders will arrange for learner feedback on previous experience to find what works best and what needs to change. Evolution will also incorporate changing business needs or training requirements, which often means researching current trends. Sometimes, older methods of delivering content are no longer viable for the organization, and formats or content design need to be updated to improve accessibility. New types of skills and resources need to be added to certain content sections, while outdated sections need to be removed.
Master Content Curation to Help Your Organization Thrive
Are you preparing to tackle your first large employee training session or a similar project? HR is instrumental in ensuring that training has the desired effect no matter the goal. Download our free guide on how to implement a successful employee training program to learn more about your options. Our whitepaper covers useful topics like how to implement a training program once you have gathered resources and the most common reasons that training isn’t as successful as intended (and how to avoid this).