Real world education: Tips for workplace training

Formal education is a finite exercise, it ends with graduation or certification, although there is no limit on the number of degrees and diplomas a person can earn. Learning, however, never ends. In fact, long-term success in business demands that individuals continue learning, but not always through continued formal education.

“The perception of the value of learning in driving organizational performance is increasing, as is the level of investing in learning,” says Brenda Sugrue, Senior Director of Research for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and author of the ASTD 2005 State of the Industry Report. “More so than ever before, an organization’s learning function is being run like any other business function with increased attention on operational efficiency, accountability, and connection to organizational strategy.”

Most companies have a training budget. However, the types of training the budgeted funds provide vary greatly based upon the opportunities presented, as well as the needs of both employee and employer. Much of the training provided by employers is specific to the industry or profession the company represents. Managerial and supervisory training is also popular, as is business process training.

When it comes to offering workplace training, employers should consider the following:

  • Learning is more than good scores. Don’t judge a training program solely on how attendees score on tests at the conclusion of the training session. The real value of any workplace learning is how it is applied on the job.
  • Mix it up. Individual learning styles vary. Offering a variety of educational formats ensures that staff will acquire the information they need in the way best suited to their learning style and schedule. At the same time, encourage staff to experiment with different types of training in order to broaden their experience with different learning styles and people.
  • People learn by doing. Encourage staff to put their new skills to work immediately, even if it means changing responsibilities. Be open to hearing and trying new methods and processes for doing things, keeping in mind that regulatory compliance may prevent rapid or significant change in some areas.
  • Bargains happen. Good training doesn’t have to be expensive. At the same time, not everything with an inexpensive price-tag is a good value. Take the time to really understand what you are buying and what return on investment to anticipate.
  • Time out. Some learning can be accomplished in a single training session. Some topics require extensive study. Space sessions out so that attendees don’t get burned out but also have time to implement new skills in their daily lives. Experiencing success, even in small doses, helps create and renew enthusiasm for additional training and learning.
  • Be reasonable and creative. Not all workplace learning has to come from outside the organization or even from professional training staff. If an employee has an interest in a topic and acquires some expertise or advanced knowledge on it, allow them to share that knowledge with other staff members.

 

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