Many of today’s top-performing companies recognize that providing opportunities for ongoing professional learning throughout an employee’s career improves job satisfaction, performance, and retention. This ultimately leads to better bottom-line results for the organization. However, not all training programs are equal, and some organizations may find that training programs that used to be effective are now out of date or disengaging and don’t connect well with today’s audiences.
In fact, according to a May 2016 report by McKinsey & Company, 40 percent of chief learning officers (CLOs) believe that their corporate learning initiatives have been ineffective. Perhaps because of this, the report also indicates that the majority of CLOs expect corporate learning to change significantly within the next three years and plan to invest more in training as it continues to be modernized. More than 60 percent of CLOs plan to increase their spending on learning and development programs, and 66 percent plan to increase the number of hours each employee dedicates to formal learning.
An increased investment is just one piece of the puzzle. Learning and development resources should also be put toward modernizing employee training to make it as effective as possible in today’s ever-changing world.
What Does It Mean to Modernize Training?
The modern workforce learns at a different pace and uses different methods than previous generations. Digital natives expect to use technology in almost every aspect of their lives, and training is no exception. Textbooks, classroom-based learning, and training videos that are not updated regularly are simply not enough to engage people who live in a world of social media, interactive apps, and on-demand video content. Incorporating modern technology into corporate training programs is essential to ensuring both the format and the content itself will be engaging for participants.
However, technology is not the only factor to consider when it comes to training. Employees want to walk away from a training with relevant and practical knowledge that they can immediately apply at work to improve their performance. Merely going through the motions to check off a box is unsatisfying and will undermine employee engagement. In the worst cases, it can actually cause employees to disengage. Incorporating the right mix of compelling training and digital learning tools can engage employees, allow them to retain more information, and motivate them to take the lessons they have learned and apply them in the real world.
How Experiential Learning Helps Modernize Employee Training
Millennials, the largest generation in the workforce and the emerging leaders in many organizations, place a high value on experiences. According to Forbes, half of millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences over material things. In order to engage millennials in training initiatives, CLOs should be adapting their learning and development programs to include meaningful and memorable experiences.
Experiential learning taps into this desire by providing an immersive environment that transports participants into a metaphorical challenge that mirrors the real world without exactly replicating it. This makes for a safe environment where employees can get hands-on practice with their new knowledge while being supported by colleagues and receiving meaningful direction from a skilled facilitator. In addition to learning valuable lessons about a broad range of topics, employees have a fun and engaging experience that will stick with them long after they leave the classroom. This shared experience also serves as a touchpoint for teams to reference when they encounter similar situations at work.
Experiential learning also promotes long-term behavior change, making it easy for employees to recognize the value of their training experience. By practicing new skills in a safe environment, participants are empowered to use them on the job and will be able to trace their improved performance back to the new skills and behaviors learned in training. Experiential learning can also be paired with a retention and reinforcement strategy that uses digital tools, ongoing group discussions, and a range of other strategies that help keep training content fresh and relevant to today’s learners.
Behaviors, expectations, and learning styles are always evolving, and CLOs must stay on the cutting edge in order to maintain effective learning and development programs. In addition to digital learning tools, which are great for reinforcement and retention, experiential learning can provide the modern training environment that employees need to truly change their behavior. To learn more about this innovative approach to corporate training, read our free guide, Experiential Learning: The Key to Effective Employee Development.