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Learn more. Pay less. Learning optimization in the federal government

How federal management can apply new learning trends to increase employee engagement and organizational efficiency


With budgets continuing to shrink, and the need for skilled employees expanding as the retirement wave swells, the demand for efficient government services only increases. In response, federal management needs to optimize their learning investments by streamlining the mechanics of how they deliver training, and providing training content in a way that increases learner retention and makes it easy to apply knowledge in a real-life setting.

The first step to optimization is exploring learning and training techniques that keep pace in today’s increasingly virtual, high-speed world. Traditional classroom training and computer-based training as standalone solutions are costly, and they lack the flexibility, accessibility and interactivity that new learning approaches offer. Innovative learning solutions cost less, and they also drive employee engagement, which ultimately increases organizational efficiency because the organization is powered by people who are skilled to support the mission.


The federal government spends a hefty percentage of scarce budget dollars on training. Furthermore, all too often training budgets are slashed because of cost, administrative overhead and a common perception of minimal return on investment.

Federal management can optimize learning now to reap rewards of cost savings and employee efficiency for the long term. Agencies that invest in delivering training that equips employees with needed skills, improve the likelihood of achieving their organizational goals.

That said, every federal agency has unique needs and a distinct workforce, so there is no single answer for how to improve organizational learning. The good news is that there are many choices.


These are just some of the latest learning trends that agencies are exploring:

Mobile learning – Mobile devices make anytime/anywhere training accessible to a global workforce. Agencies that do not issue devices could allow employees to bring their own device (BYOD). In this approach, training solutions need to be compatible on any mobile device. There is a cost savings benefit as the organization can create one version of training that can be used across multiple technology platforms, rather than investing in one-off solutions.

Gamification – Through gamification, agencies can apply gaming mechanics to the learning experience, increasing long-term retention rates by up to 10 times. Gamification techniques encourage learners to progress through training modules, especially when users complete training in digestible pieces. It can also motivate action when employees compete against each other.

Social learning and collaboration – Social learning enables employees to connect virtually to share ideas and best practices. Social technologies connect people to people—and also people to content. At a base level, your agency could create a discussion board on SharePoint, or an internal blog where people can post comments about a story or article.

Bite-size learning – To avoid information overload, you can slice information into digestible learning chunks. Making information consumable improves/ increases knowledge retention among your employees.

Experiential learning – The experiential process is engaging and interactive, making use of techniques such as simulation, role-playing and storytelling to create a unique, memorable experience for learners.


These innovative learning strategies will remain merely ideas until they are put into action. No matter which learning approach(es) your agency chooses, these three steps can make it easier to revolutionize the way you train and educate your federal employees:

  1. Prioritize. Identify your top priorities for change—which approaches align best with your agency’s organizational goals? Consider what training and learning techniques are not working, what you may want to add, change or remove about your current learning program.

  2. Partner. Collaborate with the agency chief information officer and IT department to explore which approaches are the most feasible based on current and future technology plans.

  3. Plan. Identify the knowledge, competencies and associated proficiency levels that your workforce needs to achieve the organization’s strategy. Then, create innovative training solutions that equip your employees with knowledge and skills to support the mission.

It’s time to elevate learning from a back-office function to a front-and-center means to save money and enhance the effectiveness of your federal agency.


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Mimi Yeh
Managing Director, Accenture Federal Services
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Kathryn Larson
Senior Manager, Accenture Federal Services
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