E-learning is now being used by many organizations as an approach for enhancing the skills of knowledge workers. However, most applications have performed poorly in motivating employee learning, being perceived as less effective due to a lack of alignment of learning with work performance. To help solve this problem, we developed a performance-oriented approach using design science research methods. It uses performance measurement to clarify organizational goals and individual learning needs and links them to e-learning applications. The key concept lies in a Key Performance Indicator model, where organizational mission and vision are translated into a set of targets that drive learning towards a goal of improving work performance. We explored the mechanisms needed to utilize our approach and examined the necessary conceptual framework and implementation details. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the approach, a prototype workplace e-learning system was developed and used to evaluate the effectiveness of our approach. © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.