What Got Us Here Will Not Get Us There
New knowledge opens a path toward increased curiosity, growth, and personal and professional progress. Learning is essential for keeping our brain cells active and our minds healthy.
Without relevant mental skills and information, stagnation can easily creep in and hinder our goals. Even though we have endless opportunities to learn in this increasingly connected world, many adults have no time or energy to dedicate themselves to learning something new.
Global inflation and the financial crisis have forced most people to put in extra effort and work longer hours to counter the increased living costs. But that does not leave much time for activities that bring joy and enlighten our minds. Yet, learning is a process that both inspires and benefits us.
People must continuously expand their knowledge to navigate the world’s complexities, remain employed, and understand new trends. According to the University of Pennsylvania, individuals who love learning are more likely to self-regulate efforts to persevere, despite challenges and frustration, and feel more autonomous and challenged.
Hence, we must use every opportunity to learn and develop, regardless of our limited time. Since people can’t always have complete control over their schedules, their employers play a significant role in Learning and Development (L&D).
They must support their employees’ ambitions and L&D needs. The best way to achieve that is to create programs and platforms that enable the adoption of new abilities and knowledge.
Companies should approach their L&D initiatives purposefully and efficiently. However, many have outlined strategies that no longer give results.
Tested L&D Strategies That No Longer Work In Today’s World
Learning is a process that results in knowledge expansion and helps build resilience, meaning, hope, and reciprocity for both employers and employees. When done successfully, it is joyful as much as purposeful.
Yet, many companies have had the same L&D programs and initiatives in place for years, never checking whether these are still effective. But the goal isn’t only to tick off employee training boxes and settle for outmoded practices.
As an employer and L&D professional, you must be deliberate and think through your efforts. Your employees should receive genuine value from participating in training.
The skills and knowledge they obtain should be relevant, lasting, and meaningful. For instance, a software developer would waste their time learning about the coding languages no one uses anymore.
But you should also avoid forcing people to participate in the L&D programs if they’re unwilling or see no point in it. Employees should know well how learning something benefits them and enjoy the process.
Yet, 39% of midsized companies still use a classroom-led approach, and below 10% have tried experimenting with advanced technologies, such as VR/AR and Artificial Intelligence (AI). That means that many employers haven’t moved from vetted and traditional L&D formulas, putting employees’ Learning and Development at risk.
Here are the most common mistakes they make, preventing them from providing impactful and effective L&D programmes.
Failing To Inspire And Forcing Employees To Learn
Even though most people understand the benefits of adopting new knowledge and want to learn in the workplace, sometimes that’s not the case. Moreover, companies often have unexciting L&D programs or put no effort into promoting them.
Instead, they expect employees to participate just because or push training on them to address compliance requirements and teach them to use new software. However, that approach rarely works.
People must be excited about learning and find the training content helpful and relevant. Companies must inspire them and offer thrilling and up-to-date programs that no one would want to skip.
That includes identifying employees’ needs and understanding their ambitions. What’s the point of reintroducing old training or teaching people something they already know?
It is just as fruitless for companies to develop an L&D program and expect employees to apply without knowing what they will get and how long it will take. They should be familiar with the details and confident about joining.
Otherwise, companies will have to force them to participate, which is rarely effective. The goal is to provide employees with training that will make their jobs and lives more manageable and enrich their personal and professional worlds.
Making Groundless Assumptions About Employees
Employers and L&D professionals often make assumptions about why employees don’t participate in training and learning programs. However, their opinions are rarely based on data and relevant information.
For instance, employers might assume workers don’t join the L&D because they’re lazy or not interested in obtaining new skills and knowledge. They may also think people already take courses and learning opportunities outside work.
But instead of assuming, employers should reach out to employees and identify the real reasons they’re not taking advantage of available programs. They might discover employees are struggling with the content or find it irrelevant.
Or they may lack the confidence to join the training and venture into learning demanding skills. Finally, many employees have hectic schedules and no time to participate in L&D programs, as they already juggle many responsibilities.
Companies should first eliminate the obstacles holding people back from enrolling in training. They must understand employees’ problems and solve them together.
Irrelevant And Outdated Content And Approach
It is not enough to bring employees into a classroom, present them to an instructor, and wait for the magic to happen. Companies must adopt an intentional approach and provide a holistic learning experience that aligns with the current moment and people’s needs and goals.
That includes creating diverse, up-to-date, and relevant learning programmes. Employees should learn skills and adopt knowledge they can apply to their daily tasks and use outside work.
Moreover, the learning content should match their passions, interests, and capabilities. But companies should also introduce different learning techniques, methods, and tools.
They can experiment with top-notch technologies (eg, Virtual Reality, gamification) and allow employees to access content anywhere and anytime. Educators should use engaging and inclusive language, and content should be immersive and have a practical application.
Not treating employees like equal adults
Workers are adults with unique stories, experiences, and expectations. They know well what they want, what works for them, and where they see themselves in a few years.
Yet many employers forget to treat them as equal professionals and not impose rules and content on them. No one should feel forced to learn something they don’t find helpful or relevant.
But employers should also avoid gatekeeping content only because they believe it doesn’t align with someone’s job role or a career path they have envisioned for an employee. Instead, people should have inclusive access to training and programs they want to participate in and join at a time that works for both them and L&D instructors.
How To Provide Meaningful, Efficient, And Purposeful L&D Programs?
Every person has the potential, capacity, and willingness to learn and acquire new skills. But not everyone will express or follow it, especially if available opportunities don’t align with their interests, objectives, and expectations.
Companies and L&D professionals must tap into that learning desire and ambition to understand what employees want and what would help them improve their careers and perform their jobs better. Only that way can they start developing relevant, intentional, and engaging training.
Therefore, companies should meet their workers where they are, observe what makes them passionate, and what kind of knowledge they crave. They should ensure their staff encounters no roadblocks in participating in learning programmes.
That includes creating flexible schedules and helping people maintain work-life balance. Employees should not join training at the cost of their hobbies or time with the family.
But they also shouldn’t have to sacrifice their work projects or work longer hours to have enough room for every activity. It helps if L&D programs are available online and allow every employee to learn at their own pace.
Moreover, L&D professionals should diversify the learning programs, play with novel methods, and make the best of technology. Various platforms and tools are available today, and it only makes sense to leverage them.
For instance, training gamification and VR could make content more engaging and help employees practice new skills in a safe, digitally controlled environment. That would take L&D programs to a higher level and make the learning process more effective and the acquired knowledge more enduring.
Companies should establish an L&D plan that improves employee experience instead of undermining it. That requires approaching training intentionally and with empathy and humility.
Employers must understand their employees’ worries, struggles, and hopes. Otherwise, they could fail to address it when developing L&D programs.
Finally, companies should make learning a part of the company culture and remind people there’s always room for growth. That’s why they should prioritize lifelong learning and make training accessible to everyone.
L&D opportunities should be for every employee, regardless of age, tenure, or job role. And they should be rooted in people’s needs, current trends, and industry demands. That ensures learning is not only joyful but also helpful and purposeful.
It is challenging to teach employees purposefully and efficiently. But it’s possible when companies acknowledge learners’ needs, interests, and ambitions.
After all, learning opportunities are developed for the learners and should put them at the center to have an effect and lead to lasting changes.
Originally published at www.linkedin.com.