It takes a significant amount of time and resources to develop and implement learning and training programs for your workplace. As a startup, you may be stretching your budget to provide this valuable perk, so the last thing you want is for your staff to be disengaged and uninterested in new and existing learning initiatives—wasting not only your time but there’s as well.
The good news is, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 68 percent of employees prefer to learn at work. What's more, 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. As a growing business, keeping employees is critical, so use the following strategies to ensure your employee learning is as interesting for employees as it is valuable for your business.
The main reason employees feel held back from learning is because they don’t have the time, according to the same LinkedIn report. Let’s face it, employee time—as well as their focus and attention—is a hot commodity. Make the most of everyone’s valuable time, by ensuring that you create learning content that’s to the point and value-driven—no boring handouts or drawn out power-points.
If you have content that goes along with your learning programs, make it digestible in small amounts. According to LinkedIn, this style of learning, referred to as micro-learning, is the top online learning trend for talent developers. Break up large or dense concepts into mini-sections or courses to make the lessons easier for employees to complete while still getting their work done.
People learn better when they have examples, according to the Boston University Center for Teaching and Learning. They explain: “Students are [generally] more inductive than deductive reasoners, which means that they learn better from examples than from logical development starting with basic principles. The use of case studies can, therefore, be a very effective classroom technique.”
While employees aren’t learning in the classroom, they are still taking in and making sense of new information that they’ll need to apply in their job. Use case studies to demonstrate job-related scenarios, allowing employees to see both problems and solutions. Examples will not only make sure your employees comprehend the training sessions and overall concepts but keep them engaged in focusing on real-life situations.
When it comes to workplace learning, there’s no one-size fits all strategy. To meet the diverse needs of both your employees and organization, consider using blended learning techniques. Develop Intelligence explains, “It [blended learning] provides differential learning delivery and has been gaining much ground within the business sector over the past several years since the principles are widely applicable to corporate training needs.”
This style of learning typically includes a combination of online learning and offline classroom learning. Mixing up training techniques like this will go a long way in keeping employees engaged and interested.
Develop Intelligence continues, “Blending online instruction with in-person interaction results in a more dynamic learning experience and helps employees retain the information much faster than if they were presented with solely a two-hour lecture or two-hour WebEx video.”
This is also ideal for remote employees who can’t attend in-person training. Instead, they can do the online portions and then use video calls to be part of the offline discussions as needed.
People are often more motivated when they have someone holding them accountable, like a coach or mentor. Bonus: mentors, who can provide such accountability, have become increasingly common in today’s workforce. Phil George and Andy George, founders of MentorcliQ, tell Forbes:
“We’re witnessing the distinct evolution of mentoring as a business tool. It has evolved from its organic roots where employees naturally built networks and developed interpersonal professional relationships, to more formally-structured mentoring programs.”
Phil and Andy George go on to explain: “A new multi-program approach—leveraging technology—will make mentoring a full-time component of the workplace environment and a vital part of contemporary job culture.”
Capitalize on the benefits of mentoring by using it to make your learning programs more engaging. Appoint mentors or coaches, depending on your organization’s culture, to provide guidance and accountability for in-office learning.
When all else fails, ask! Whether your organization has long-held learning and development programs, or you’re just starting to embrace learning in your workplace, employee feedback is invaluable. Training Today suggests, “A successful training program is always a work in progress, and the training cycle isn’t complete without an evaluation of training effectiveness, which leads to decision-making and planning for future training. Therefore, a useful and informative evaluation program needs to be a part of your overall training operation.”
Create a set of questions, evaluating both the effectiveness of the program and how engaging it was. Use this as a chance to get candid feedback about future learning as well. Do this using an online survey tool that employees can respond to anonymously.
Today’s employees crave an environment where they can learn and develop their skill set. If your startup is putting valuable resources into learning opportunities, take the time to ensure it’s engaging and beneficial to your team. Try these simple methods to optimize learning in your organization.
Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.