In order to get the best return on investment for their learning initiatives, businesses need to take the same approach they would to any other element of their operations. This, says GGADVC CEO Michael Gullan, means starting with a clearly-defined strategy and objectives.
First off, says Gullan, companies need to understand their business needs, and match the learning journeys employees take to those needs.
“You need to work out how to create different learning paths for different roles in the business to drive specific outcomes and results,” he says.
Doing this means developing a deep understanding of how adults learn and what this means for your training strategy.
“Adults need to understand why they have to learn something and prefer to be able to put it into practise sooner rather than later. They also learn better by experiencing things than they do by being instructed. This means adult learning needs to be interactive and engaging. Rather than giving them textbooks or Powerpoint presentations to absorb, adults learn better by role-playing scenarios or working through simulations, for example,” Gullan says.
Using a ‘just in time’ rather than ‘just in case’ approach helps here too. Rather than teaching everyone everything they may need to fulfill a role, teach them what they need to know as they need it and can apply it.
Next up, he states, companies need to consider the learning management platform they plan to use. “The user experience is critical,” he states. “In order to ensure you’re getting the best out of your platform it needs to be designed specifically to address how adults consume content. People absorb information better when it is delivered in short bursts that match their attention spans. Using a variety of aids like visuals, videos, infographics and the like can help present the content in a way that delivers the greatest meaning to a variety of people with various levels of familiarity with the topic.”
Finally, he says, you need to measure learning activity and results, and understand the analytics you get out of your platform.
”Learning without effective evaluation is meaningless,” he comments.
An effective learning strategy needs to include what the desired outcomes are (objectives) and how those will be measured. Your learning platform needs to give you a number of key metrics, he says, including:
Tracking learners’ progress and areas where they can improve.
Showing how learners engage content, each other and learning exercises which will then help you to decide what works, what doesn’t, and how to tweak it to be more effective.
Comparing performance in online learning courses with job performance to determine how effective the training was.
“Research has shown that 93% of employees will stay at a company longer if it invests in developing their skills. Businesses that approach learning initiatives without a clear strategy and defined objectives aren’t just wasting their budget, they’re losing employees because of it,” Gullan says. “Conversely, well-planned and implemented learning programmes can directly affect employee performance, and, consequently, the business’ bottom line.”