Every organisation wants to get the best results from their investment in professional development, with a majority of learners and managers striving to realise immediate, practical improvements as a result of learning. But in spite of this desire, most workplaces don’t have a clear plan in place for how the results of professional development will be applied within the workplace. In fact, recent research from Guroo Learning identified that only 24% of workplaces have a specific plan in place for how learners should apply their learning.
With businesses focused on practical, measurable results and the ROI from learning, it’s in educators' interests to work alongside their partners and clients to help ensure that the impact of learning is carried through into the workplace and that every learner is receiving the maximum benefit from their professional development. In this article, we look at the ways that educators can help support businesses to integrate the results of learning into the workplace.
Bridging the gap
To start building an effective strategy for integrating learning into the workplace, it’s essential to form an understanding of the requirements and operational processes of the client organisation. By connecting workplace stakeholders with faculty and learning designers, the needs of the organisation can be addressed and a practical plan developed, both to align the outcomes of learning with those needs, and to provide a framework that supports learners to move forward and apply their learning to the workplace.
Simulated Learning Environments
One powerful method for helping to integrate learning into the workplace is the creation of simulated learning environments. By collaborating closely with industry clients, educators can design scenarios that mirror the realities and complexities of the workplace. Providing learners with a safe space to practice and apply their skills means learners are better prepared for the challenges they will encounter on the job. This not only enhances overall skill development but also raises the learners’ confidence and adaptability as they approach such scenarios in their operating environment.
Learning in the Flow of Work
Integrating learning into the daily workflow is essential for its effectiveness. It is important that learners' access to learning be aligned with their work in a manageable way. It is worth considering making learning a calendared event, just like an important meeting or discussion. Treating learning events with a similar priority to regular operations and setting aside a specific time allows the learner to focus on learning and helps make it more manageable to balance the needs of learning with the needs of work. By incorporating learning materials into the natural flow of work, educators can improve workplace performance and enhance the retention and application of knowledge with learning that is practical and immediately applicable.
Supporting Coaching and Mentoring
Providing relevant and meaningful support can play a huge part in getting learners to apply the results of their professional development to the workplace. Educators can help to facilitate this process by incorporating managers and coaches as part of the learning process and overall program design. Sharing insights into a learner's progress, capabilities, and understanding with their manager, or a coach allows the manager to provide targeted guidance and avenues to help apply new skills. This not only strengthens the learning experience but also fosters a sense of accountability and support within the workplace. The mentor/learner relationship can also provide a source of motivation for the learner, giving them a chance to showcase their new skills and demonstrate the personal impact of their learning to their line manager.
Facilitating Workplace Collaboration
Learning, like work, should provide opportunities for learners to connect with their peers, and to collaborate on projects that deliver meaningful results for the business. Providing opportunities for learners to work together throughout their learning not only provides the opportunity for learners to support and offer feedback to one another but can also be combined with work-integrated projects that let learners engage with projects that will have a direct impact on the workplace. Consider ways in which you can implement tools such as learner discussion forums, collaborative tasks, and opportunities for peers to connect and work together on work-integrated learning. By fostering an environment that encourages knowledge sharing and links the theoretical to the practical, educators contribute to a culture of continuous learning that helps enhance workplace performance.
The journey towards effective integration doesn't end with the initial implementation. Gathering feedback from the client organisation is crucial for understanding the impact of learning on workplace performance and the effectiveness of the strategies implemented to aid skill transfer to the workplace. This feedback loop enables education providers to refine their programs over time, ensuring they maintain relevance, effectiveness and alignment with evolving workplace needs.