If you think back to school, you’ll remember those classmates that always seemed to fly through school. They would barely pick up a book and still ace the test. Or maybe you were one of these students. The problem is not everyone learns so quickly or in the same fashion. That’s why it’s important to have several learning strategies in place for on-the-job training.
Learning strategies are simply the methods that students use to learn. These can range from techniques to retain the information long term to better ways to study to test-taking strategies. Learning strategies should also extend beyond the students to the facilitators. Why? Because the way the materials are presented is just as important as how the students learn.
Today’s employee demands individuality
So how do you incorporate learning strategies for your learning and development program? Before we dive in, it’s important to understand why you need learning strategies in the first place. To answer that, let’s take a look at what employees truly want. According to the 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer, the findings boil down to three main points.
Slightly more than half of all employees said they wished their employers offered more flexibility. These are things like telecommuting, flexible schedules and unlimited PTO. But flexibility means more than just where you work and when. Employees want this flexibility in how they do their jobs and this includes training. By incorporating different learning strategies into your training program, you will give employees the tools to do their jobs more effectively, but on an individualized level.
A focus on health has become top of mind in employees’ personal lives, but this also extends into their work lives. In fact, one in two employees surveyed stated a need for more well-being at their current companies. This means physically with things like health screenings and better work stations like standing desks, but it can also mean training.When you utilize learning strategies you can strengthen your employees' skill sets. Added learning and development equals further employee company advancement which translates to financial well being for your employees.
Employees responded that they were three times more likely to work for a company that they felt they had a purpose. In other words, everyone wants to feel included and that their job counts toward the greater good of the company’s. Training topics like workplace communication, company goals and understanding what the company offers customers is key to building purpose. By using learning strategies, you can drive home what your company’s purpose is and how each employee’s job impacts this and the greater community.
Learning strategies for employees
By incorporating learning strategies within your training program you can impact how and what your employees retain. Plus, you can offer a customized learning program to fit everyone’s unique learning style. So what are the latest trends in learning strategies? Here are the ones you should be incorporating to keep and gain top talent.
1. Bite-sized learning
Everyone’s attention span is different, but it’s been proven you retain more over time if you break your learning up. Instead of offering one large training session, use bite-sized learning. Take key topics and spread them out over a course of time. That way employees can digest one concept before moving onto the next. Plus, this method allows employees time to recap what they’ve learned so far before applying it to the next lesson.
How to incorporate it
Bite-sized learning is one of the learning strategies that are great for several different types of training. Here are some ways to include it within your training program.
- Sales Training
Chances are you employ a sales team that spends a good portion on client calls outside the office. These team members do not have blocks of time to sit in training sessions. Offering bite-sized learning quick sessions that can be done on the go is ideal for your sales team.
- Compliance Training
For compliance, employees need to be up-to-speed on new laws, regulations or to stay current within their designations. Bite-sized learning can be used with any facet of compliance training.
- Safety Training
Depending on what your industry does, some or all of your employees need safety training. If your industry is construction, for example, it’s what to do if an accident arises. Or if you work in a corporate office building, there needs to be training on what to do in case of a fire. Bite-sized learning is great for retaining key safety information.
- Software Training
There are always new software rollouts. And some employees will learn faster than others. A way for everyone to get on board quickly is to use bite-sized learning. Short sessions will help all employees get up to speed more efficiently.
- New hire training
Since you know time is money and that it costs a lot to hire new employees, you want them to feel welcome for the start and stay! As part of their new employee onboarding process, utilize bite-sized learning so that they can integrate faster into your organization.
- Product or service training
No matter what industry you are in, you have changes, tweaks over even overhauls to your product or service offerings. Every employee from sales to marketing to even admins need to understand what these are. And bite-sized learning is a great way to make sure everyone understands the new workings of your products or services.
2. Retrieval practice
It’s one thing to learn information, but it’s a completely different concept to retain it. Since employees are always multitasking on jobs, what’s learned is often soon forgotten. That’s why one of the great learning strategies is the retrieval practice. Instead of attending in-classroom training, taking notes and then studying these notes to be quizzed on what’s learned, retrieval practice forces you to use your memory. By recalling information without the crutch of notes, it will help employees learn more effectively.
How to incorporate it
The easiest way to start using this process is to have employees write out what was learned to see if they can recall the material. If you are training on site, this could mean incorporating a group discussion on what was learned. The goal is to have everyone recall the material without looking through their notes or any handouts to refresh their memories. Then either have employees review the notes themselves to see how well they retained what was learned or go over the material again focusing on the areas that were not retained the first time.
When it comes to learning strategies, elaboration is another great method for retaining what’s being taught. This method will force employees to dig deeper beyond simply recalling what’s learned and actually explaining in great detail what the concepts are. The goal is to connect what’s being learned to actual real-life experiences so that the new material gets incorporated into a person’s decision-making process.
How to incorporate it
So how do you use it? The best way is using a specific method of elaboration called interrogation elaboration. Have employees ask themselves how and why a new concept works. Then, they will come up with these answers. So for example, if you are training on the importance of onsite training. Employees would ask themselves these questions.
- How does onsite training work?
- Why do on-site training?
- When did companies start onsite training?
- What caused onsite training to become important?
- What is the result of a great onsite training program?
Basically, employees make lists of everything to be learned, then they formulate questions around each topic. Once they begin to answer some of these questions, employees will begin to see connections between various topics within a lesson. This will help make sense of what is being taught and the mind starts to better retain the new information. The final step is for employees to make connections with this new information to their life experiences or memories. Also, employees going forward should note how this new material relates to what’s going around them. By going through this process, employees will absorb and actually use what is being taught both on the job and in their personal lives.
The best learning strategies focus on retaining the new information taught. That’s why interleaving is a great method to incorporate. Interleaving is memorizing new material but woven in with other skills. So instead of focusing on just one concept, there are other concepts within the same lesson plan. For example, your training is on a new product rollout. You may mix in quick lessons about your existing products. By doing this, it forces the learner to pay attention. He or she must focus on the topics and pick out the new information.
How to incorporate it
For facilitators, lesson plans should take some new topics and mix them in with other topics. It’s important to choose other concepts that should be common knowledge to an employee. That way, if these concepts are missed, facilitators will know employees need a refresher lesson in these key concepts.
For employees, studying any new lessons should also be interwoven with various topics. For example, if an employee must take compliance training and a safety class, then they should jump back and forth between the two topics when learning the information. That way it forces the brain to stay active in learning both sets of materials. However, it’s important that switching between material is not an excuse for leaving one concept for another because the materials is too challenging. The purpose is to keep the focus sharp and make connections across different training sessions.
5. Concrete examples
Often concepts or new skills are introduced and it’s hard for a learner to see how these skills relate to their actual life. However, by using one of the learning strategies called concrete examples, abstract lessons become usable ideas. So what exactly are concrete examples? They are examples that you can see, taste, touch, smell and hear. In other words, they are physical and resonate with the learner. Since they are concrete, they easily translate into actual experiences. Plus, these examples can be measured and observed to deepen their understanding of them.
How to incorporate it
This learning strategy is great for both facilitators and employees to use. For facilitators, oftentimes topics covered in a learning session are concepts. While these concepts need to be adopted by a group of employees, the employees may not understand how these concepts relate to their daily work lives. So, a facilitator may explain a concept like tips for customer service training. But instead of just giving the tips, the facilitator would follow each tip with a concrete example. So maybe the tip is how to treat the customer correctly and the concrete example would be how an airline gives out vouchers when they are oversold. For employees, concrete examples can be used to study the information given, For each training module employees would create a few concrete examples per topic. That way concepts become facts in an employee’s mind.