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It’s that time of year where we all start thinking about what we want to do differently for the next 12 months. Many of us will choose to give something up like chocolate, others will choose to try new activities or join a gym (and last longer than a month).
At Learning Nexus, we want to provide people involved in organisational development some ideas for what they can do within their organisations to bring about change.
Don’t panic… our suggestions don’t involve writing huge cheques to gamify all of your online learning. These are ideas which involve a change in culture or a change in activity – exactly what a New Year’s resolution should be!

1. Embrace Social Learning
Social learning is without a doubt the most undervalued form of learning that can be embedded within an organisation. In today’s world, organisations ask their staff to learn things in anticipation that they will someday need that knowledge, whereas social learning follows a just-in-time (JIT) format – search for knowledge at the point of requirement.
Let’s think of these two concepts in terms of food manufacturing:

Option 1 – Traditional Method of Manufacturing (Learning)
Slave away for hours producing a wealth of stock to then store it in your warehouse, otherwise known as your brain, until you need it. The issue here is that food goes out of date, and the same can be said for knowledge retention – only 58% survives for 30 minutes, depleting to 35% 7 days later.

Option 2 – Just-in-Time (Social Learning)
You make a sale and begin production immediately, shipping it off at the earliest possibility. This is the exact same concept as social learning – you encounter a problem or a gap in knowledge, and then immediately seek to fill that gap.
Your search can take you to many different places, such as forums and search engines, or it could lead you to simply ask a colleague.
Not only will social learning enhance your staff’s ability to perform tasks to a higher standard, it will also encourage a wider social atmosphere to the company.

2. Utilise Microlearning
Time is becoming more and more precious within business. Employers are constantly looking for ways to make the best use of their staff’s time, whilst still asking them to complete hours of training programmes.
Some studies show that an average employee has just 1% of their work-time to focus on professional development. Putting that 1% into context, it’s roughly 24 minutes, based on a standard working week of 37.5 hours.
Why spend 24 minutes working on 1 specific course when you could complete 12 pieces of microlearning in the same amount of time?

What’s Microlearning?

Microlearning is more than just another training asset. It has proven to be a more digestible format for learners to obtain and retain information. In fact, the Journal of Applied Psychology states that learning in short bursts makes retention 17% more efficient. In addition, a study by the Rapid Learning Institute shows that 94% of learners prefer learning which last for no longer than 10 minutes.
Microlearning is extremely versatile when applied to your learning strategy. For example, some organisations are using it to introduce courses, giving learners an overview of what they’ll learn during the course. Others are using it for annual refreshers, reminding learners of their responsibilities when it comes to cyber security for example. Microlearning can also be used to reinforce staff knowledge of company policies.
The possibilities are endless.

3. Make Greater Use of Personalised Learning Plans
The majority of employers carry out annual or biannual appraisals with staff to identify any training requirements, as well as general information such as job satisfaction. Once the appraisal has been carried out, staff are then given a generic learning plan to help fill the skills-gap.
The problem here is that everyone learns differently. The plan you assign may have the goal of closing a skills-gap, but is it the best way for someone to learn? For example, some staff will thrive in a classroom environment, bouncing ideas between different participants. Others will prefer to learn independently – putting them in a classroom will only disengage and hinder their learning.

Who should take ownership?

Managers know their staff better than anyone in the organisation. Enabling managers to take greater ownership of their staff’s learning plans has huge knock-on effects:
• Training activities are scheduled around current workloads, reducing the risk of stress
• Training is provided in the format in which the learner would be most receptive and engaged
• Regular feedback and reviews can take place, meaning the plan is not “set in stone”
• Training will not just focus on hard-skills; soft-skills such as email etiquette will also be visible and actionable for the manager
If staff see their manager showing interest in their personal development, they’re more likely to go that extra mile when called upon.

4. Align L&D objectives with organisational KPIs
A large number of organisations see the Learning and Development function as a way to ensure all staff are compliant with government policies.
We believe L&D is so much more!

Yes, compliance is important. But L&D can also help drive forward the KPIs set by Senior Management. Each year, organisations set their objectives. These KPIs tend to relate to business growth, for example increasing sales by 20%.

Growth usually results in the company employing additional members of staff, or better-skilled staff. If you employ just one additional employee, earning a salary of £26,500, it will actually cost the business in the region of £29,000 – and that’s before you consider the actual recruitment costs.
The other option would be to up-skill your existing staff – this is where aligning L&D goals with business KPIs becomes productive. A three-day internal sales training course can cost anywhere in the region of £3,000-£6,000. Although costly on paper, it’s drastically cheaper than employing an additional member of staff, and results in you having 10 well-trained sales people.
A highly trained sales team can help drive forward the objective of increasing sales.
The exact same can be said for other areas of the business, for example reducing the number of faulty product returns. Training your production team in quality control will inevitably lead to a reduction in returns.

5. Encourage Flexible Learning
As mentioned in section 2, finding time to complete learning within work hours can be extremely difficult and could have an adverse effect on performance or personal wellbeing. One solution is to embrace a social learning culture. But there are always scenarios where a specific piece of learning must be completed, for example confirming understanding of a company policy.

If time cannot be found within working hours, many learners refuse to complete it in their own time for a number of reasons:
• It’s seen as part of their job and therefore shouldn’t be completed in their own time
• They don’t have the tools to do it outside of their workplace, for example they have no access to a computer

Each of these objections have fairly simple yet impactful solutions
It’s seen as part of their job and therefore shouldn’t be completed in their own time
You could reward staff for completing learning in their own time. If a learner completes a compulsory course in this way, why not reward them with an extra 30 minutes for lunch or allow them to leave early on a Friday?

They don’t have the tools to do it outside of their workplace, for example they have no access to a computer.
You don’t need to provide every member of staff with a laptop. You could invest in a few laptops intended for communal use. Staff can approach the L&D team and request to borrow a laptop for the weekend.

To summarise, improving L&D within an organisation doesn’t need to cost an absolute fortune. As you can see, almost all of the suggestions we have put forward are completely free – you won’t lose a penny by trialling them and working out whether they suit your organisation.
Most importantly, don’t forget to shout about the changes you might be making. Work closely with your Marketing team to help with internal communications and bring together your Managers and Senior Leaders to get them onboard and engaged with the changes you are making.

If you want to find our more about Learning Nexus and what we offer click here. Or alternatively, email us at hello@learningnexus.co.uk we are always happy to help.