Building a learning culture has become the norm across industries as employers aim to narrow the skills gap and become future ready. To get employees to take advantage of learning opportunities, Human Resources management must find ways to make learning part of the workflow rather than additional work that adds to the to-do list and schedule of workers.
Recently, Human Resources leaders responded to an HR Exchange Network question about how to infuse learning into the workflow on Terkel.io. Here are the solutions they suggested:
Virtual Workshops and Lectures
Creating programs that allow short bursts of knowledge building during the work day is the first step to making learning a natural part of the employee experience.
“We normalize workplace learning by including virtual workshops and lectures as a mainstay of monthly programming,” says Michael Alexis, CEO of Team Building. “Each quarter, we invite a couple of experts to lead webinars on topics such as diversity or public speaking, and put these events on staff’s regular social calendars. By scheduling these engagements during working hours, we see better turnout and incentivize employees to take time out to learn and grow.”
Prioritize L&D from the Start
“One way we have made learning part of our workflow is that we support HR certification as part of someone’s onboarding with our firm. We traditionally do not hire from corporate HR, so we help skill up our new team members by providing them the tools, resources and time to study and pass the certification exam of their choice,” says Eric Mochnacz, Senior HR Consultant, Red Clover. “Then, as part of our quarterly performance management discussions, each consultant sets a quarterly learning goal – and we identify how we can support them in accomplishing that goal. We also have a clear metric about how much of their work week should be client facing and how much can be committed to internal work, including achieving their learning goals.”
In addition, Red Clover assigns a consultant to what Mochnacz calls a “stretch assignment” that has them participating in on-the-job training with a mentor. This allows the continuation of workflow learning at different stages of the employee lifecycle.
Employees Tailor Their Learning Plan
Giving employees a say in what they are learning and how they celebrate their achievements can help make learning pleasurable. This can make it easier to work it into the work schedule.
“We have found that the best way to incorporate learning into our workflows is to break down our goals into small, manageable milestones. For each milestone the employee reaches, we recommend to give themselves a small reward, such as taking a five-minute break or treating themselves to a healthy snack,” says Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager at Financer. “This helps to keep them motivated and on track. In addition, we ensure that all employees set aside some time each day for reflection. This allows them to identify any areas where they need improvement and make adjustments to their learning plan accordingly. Moreover, they are asked to share their assessment with us so that we can agree to an improvised plan.”
Allow for Reflection
Building opportunities to consider and assess the skills they need provides workers a chance to have a say in their learning and improve over time.
“After-Action Reviews (AARs) are an essential our company uses to integrate learning in our workflow. These reviews can be as short as a 20-minute team reflection after an event or project, and they document valuable information on what we did and how we can do better in the future,” says Adam Shlomi, Founder of SoFlo Tutors. “The lessons from AAR’s can be applied over a wide range of projects and will ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated.”
Feedback for Learning
Communication is vital to a functional team. It’s also a way to build L&D into your work system. Providing regular feedback about how to reach and set goals, leverage strengths, and work on weaknesses is a must.
“We promote an office mantra that goes: ‘Two-way interactions fuel positive actions over misunderstandings,’ says Abe Breuer, CEO of VIP To Go. “This everyday reminder encourages team members to respond to feedback and ask follow-up questions constructively. Healthy communication contributes to a collaborative workplace that teaches best practices and the right attitude towards work.”
Bite-sized learning is a big trend in a wide range of businesses. People do not have a lot of extra time, and these mini modules make it possible to easily find the time to digest a little bit of knowledge. Over time, employees can build up to learning a full lesson.
“I’m a big fan of microlearning, and I find that offering short, easy-to-digest eLearning modules over the course of a day works very well. Our modules average five minutes in length and cover core topics and essential updates,” says Dean Kaplan, CEO of The Kaplan Group. “Sometimes these are standalone modules, other times the modules form part of a longer course. These modules are typically covered on a single webpage. Sometimes the modules are just a list of links to relevant resources. I have found that these bite-size modules are better for retention because it is easier to hold peoples’ attention for a few minutes than for an hour or more.”
Learn as You Do
Making the learning process part of every day from before new hires even start with the company sets the tone.
“We made learning part of the workflow by integrating it into our work system and then following it up with implementation. Before a team member officially joins the company, we explain and demonstrate that the work culture pattern is ‘learning as you do,'” says Jeffrey Zhou, Co-Founder and CEO of Fig Loans. “For us, there’s no better strategy for employees to learn and retain new skills by applying what they learn in practical situations…The key is that you embed the learning workflow in your business in a manner that becomes second nature to employees. If, for instance, an employee can’t decide on how to handle an unexpected problem at work, their automatic move will be to check for resources from your workflow learning tools.”
There are many ways to ensure learning becomes part of the workflow. Human Resources management is limited only by its creativity. It should be a priority of leaders with an eye on the future and a desire to create a positive work culture.
“Embed learning in the culture by making sure that learning is happening all the time, in every interaction,” says Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer at Checkr. “It means that employees are encouraged to share what they know and to learn from each other. When people see that learning is valued, they are more likely to do it.”
Don’t miss the Corporate Learning online event to learn more about learning in the workflow and other challenges and solutions. Get your questions answered from experts at USAA, the World Bank, and Centura Health. It’s free to register. Those who participate in the live event are eligible to earn SHRM credits.