Tips and Trends

Cohort Based Learning Fosters Business Evolution

Organizations are scrambling to find new ways to address employee engagement and innovation at work. In a tight market, it’s crucial to ensure your workforce is ready and skilled to pivot with the constant flux of modernizing your business needs. As the shift to hybrid working environments increases, it’s easy to overwhelm your workforce with the multitude of changes and training spurred by modernization and underwhelm them with the same tired training.

A recent Brandon Hall Group survey revealed that 63.4% of organizations surveyed believe retraining the learning organization is the first step to successfully developing and delivering highly engaging learning in a hybrid work environment. Organizations know they have to do something to increase engagement.

Some large organizations have found that cohort-based learning keeps their workforce engaged while creating innovation think tanks. Cohort learning is simply a group of learners that enter a curriculum or training program together and stay for the entire duration of the training or curriculum.

Cohort-based learning encourages opportunities for interdepartmental engagement and collaborative learning along with self-improvement. Successful organizations have leveraged cohort learning to help solve current real-world business problems. To ensure success in these programs, organizations keep their cohorts small and will often use an application process to decide who can participate in the cohort. Here are some examples of cohort centric programs that won *Brandon Hall Group awards for Learning and Development programs in 2021:

Royal Caribbean Cruises: Leveraging Design Thinking

Royal Caribbean Cruises leverages the Design Thinking method. They train the tools and principles of human-centered design to the company. Shortly after they complete the cohort learning Design Thinking principles, they apply the practice to a real-world Business Challenge. Cohort participants conduct research, leverage the method, and present findings and prototypes to leadership.

Paycheck HR Services Excellence Academy: Accelerating product knowledge

Paycheck’s HR Services Excellence Academy (HRSEA) training is an eight-week, cohort-based program. The cohort program is designed to prepare new HRPs with knowledge about Paychex’s products and services, systems, and service model. They keep the cohort participants to a maximum of 14 to enable easier monitoring of curriculum completion, tighter compliance, and stronger collaborative, targeted coaching with the Learning Instructor and the Human Resources Coach.

PayPal Technology Leadership Program: Creating tomorrow’s technology leaders

PayPal’s Technology Leadership Program (TLP) started in 2011. The cohort-based learning program was designed to provide technologists the opportunity to develop a broad range of business, technology, and leadership skills. PayPal credits this program with developing well-rounded leaders who drive the acceleration of business imperatives.

The common thread to these successful training programs is the strong commitment to a defined goal and formalized cohort objectives. However you decide to develop your training programs, blended learning makes cohort collaboration possible for these types of scenarios.


*Brandon Hall Group. (2021 February). “Creating and Delivering Highly Engaging Learning for the Hybrid Workforce”.

*Brandon Hall Group. Excellence Awards 2021.


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