Albert Einstein once said, “once you stop learning, you start dying”, giving the recent findings from City and Guild that 80% of us struggle to access learning and development content, a strangely dark edge. A little overdramatic from Einstein perhaps but although we might not be dying physically, 69% of us say we’re dying of boredom with our current workplace training.
These figures are quite shocking, at a time where companies are recognizing the importance of engaging employees at work, however they appear to show that learning and development is one factor that the working world is still struggling with. For the 39% out there who claim they are either rarely or even never learning, ELearning can be a great tool to utilise on the go, especially in London where we spend an average of 74 minutes commuting. However on its own it does have drawbacks, such as low completion rates, which is why we spoke to Lauren Boyce, Senior Learning and Development Consultant here at Goodman Masson, to find out what it is that sends our Consultants to Glassdoor with praise for our L&D team.
How do you get engagement in training from your experienced hires?
In some companies, employers are afraid to assess the capabilities of their experienced hires when they first start as they worry it could be interpreted as condescending. I’ve always found people to be very open to learning and feedback when they first start. 12 months down the track, I don’t think they want to feel that they are only as good as when they joined, people want to feel they are moving forward. This is why we assess many of our experienced hires, make recommendations and allow them to have a choice in what they’d like to pursue. Choice is very important for engagement at that level.
How do you set up your grads and inexperienced hires for success?
With our inexperienced hires, they are automatically enrolled in training. Throughout the course, they have 121 assessments and feedback, so they only continue with training as long as it is relevant and needed. We always have a clear set of criteria so that people know where they stand.
How long are the sessions?
Our sessions are bite sized. For the topics we cover it doesn’t make sense to go on big week-long courses. When I’ve run week-long sessions, I can barely remember what I covered on day one, even though I’d run the course 50 times, so I can’t imagine it would have been easy for others to remember. In general, people find it hard to work on and implement more than a few things at a time, so we limit our sessions to only having a few learning objectives or skills to implement. Also, experienced people feel stressed being away from their desk for long periods of time, they get a lot of pressure so short and snappy sessions work better for them. I’m very detailed, but I’ve found that the shell is best for the training session, whilst the detail is best kept for the 121 implementation sessions and follow up, as it is rarely remembered and makes more sense in context.
What do you do to make the sessions interesting?
In the sessions we run, we try to make them fun, applicable, and an opportunity to engage with peers. We research and brainstorm games or activities we could integrate that still promote learning while making things fun. We talk to our stakeholders when writing the courses to get relevant and real examples. We try, where possible, to pair people and get them into groups to allow for discussions and interactive sessions. We roleplay trial-run sessions with our team and challenge each other to ensure they run smoothly and are relevant for the group.
What about making sure that people use the training back on desk?
Many people leave training courses with knowledge but find it difficult to convert that into skill. Doing it with them for the first time can help give them the confidence boost to implement their knowledge, as well as hopefully see positive results immediately and encourage them to repeat it again. We do this with a number of our sessions. It can take a bit of extra time, but it gets the best results (and feedback).
How do you make sure people know what training is available?
In terms of access, this can be very tricky, it is not just about having a stack of resources on a site, people need to be directed there and not everyone learns best that way. Having the right ratio of trainers to employees is important, we hot desk and travel to other sites frequently to make ourselves approachable and ensure people are aware of what is available. We have regular team meetings to get updates on every employee in the business. We have quarterly catch ups with Directors to get their perspective of what is needed. We look at performance reports regularly to ensure we haven’t overlooked anyone.
Are there things you can do to make sure people attend training?
In regard to attendance; choice, pre-course catch ups, being direct with feedback, calling people to check their availability goes a long way. The most important thing for attendance is engagement from the SMT, they need to promote the importance of attendance and follow up. We provide as many stats as possible on ROI such as increased revenues we’ve measured to build engagement from the SMT. We also get the SMT involved in the design of new courses through discussion groups and pre-launch presentations. They are a wonderfully supportive SMT team at Goodman Masson. I’ve found having conversations with line Managers about how to promote the importance of training and checking in with both the attendee and their manager regularly, pays off.