How to design and deliver an inclusive workplace learning strategy
Here's how to develop an inclusive learning strategy, according to Fredrik Högemark.
A culture of inclusive learning and teaching recognises all employees’ entitlement to a learning experience that respects diversity, enables participation and removes barriers. Businesses delivering inclusive learning strategies are best placed to attract a wide pool of talent and positively support the career progression and job satisfaction of their workforces.
Start as you mean to go on
It’s important to introduce an inclusive approach to learning from the start. By carefully considering the design and delivery of teaching, learning and assessment methods you enable all staff to engage meaningfully with their jobs and reach their full potential.
Channels such as social media and internal networks should be used to get the message out and make information easily accessible. Visuals work well too, such as posters around the office showing how employee training has made a real difference.
It’s important to remember opportunities for development should not just be when someone is due a promotion. You need to encourage a learning culture across all levels and tailor it to different career stages.
For example; a Deloitte poll on millennial engagement in the workplace revealed 63% feel their talent and leadership skills are not being developed as they should be. This is an error which could unwittingly stunt professional growth and cause graduates to move on from your business sooner, rather than later.
You need to encourage a learning culture across all levels and tailor it to different career stages.
A rotational scheme can be an effective way to combat this, which offers new recruits the chance to ‘test run’ different roles. By allowing graduates to get a feel for different positions, they learn what interests them, where their skills lie and build a lasting bond with your business.
Provide new recruits with a mentor who is separate from their day-to-day manager. This will give them opportunities to discuss worries and identify ways to progress and enable them to use newly acquired skills.
Do your research
Job descriptions are a tool for recruiting, establishing titles and creating employee goals and objectives. So, HR teams should ensure they have an accurate understanding of all employees’ job duties and responsibilities, regardless of whether they are at the beginning, middle or end of their careers.
One way to audit or create job descriptions is to conduct regular job analysis - gathering, examining and interpreting data - about a job’s tasks and responsibilities. Only by thoroughly understanding all the elements of a role, will businesses be able to introduce the most relevant training and courses to support employees in reaching their full potential.
A good way to check training success is to consult and engage with staff for feedback. This could involve an interview process with specific task-related questions, which are sure to change as roles in the business progress.
You can conduct staff surveys and introduce internal focus groups and employee forums too. Providing a degree of anonymity to some of these options can be effective, as you are more likely to receive honest feedback from teams.
Have a lateral approach
PwC recently introduced the concept of ‘inclusion allies’ who support and advocate for people of different workplace demographics. These are key players in your business who stand for inclusion, lead by example and encourage positive, learning behaviour.
By appointing an even mix of both male and female champions – who are of different ages and levels of seniority – businesses can establish a strong internal network, offering a touchpoint on the ground for all employees.
This, in turn, provides staff with a platform where they can raise awareness or discuss any issues with their job roles. Not only will teams feel more confident disclosing problems or seeking advice, your workplace champions will be informed enough to request adjustments so everyone can be their best selves at work.
Such insights will also enable HR to develop partnerships with specialist recruitment agencies to facilitate a successful and positive experience for candidates, recruiters and hiring managers.
Be tailored and targeted
Mckinsey research reveals leading companies prioritise the portfolio of L&D initiatives they invest in, recognising it goes hand-in-hand with building an inclusive organisational culture.
With this in mind, those in charge of L&D should take into account all learner preferences to create more effective learning interventions.
We all have certain environments and ways of being taught we are more receptive to – from listening to a podcast, watching video tutorials or sharing ideas in a traditional offline environment – it’s clear a ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ to learning doesn’t really exist.
Try to create balanced training programmes which combine and integrate a mix of content and activities to engage and challenge learners.
For example; amalgamate individual learning with assignments which involve discussions as part of small teams. While some employees might prefer studying on their own, including a collaborative element creates a network of peer support to help motivate individuals to complete a course.
Make it easy
While companies should examine the amount of effort and resources put into training, such as employee time and funding used to conduct activities, this should not be the only focus or reason why some training does or does not take place in your business.
Giving people the tools to shape their own learning experiences helps widen the skills pool of the entire company. Failure to deliver learning to accommodate all individuals can even be counterproductive, as employees won’t have the most up-to-date skills to thrive in their roles.
In fact, a long-term research project commissioned by Middlesex University for Work Based Learning found 74% of respondents felt they weren't achieving their full potential at work due to lack of development opportunities.
For those who are particularly time-poor or have additional responsibilities outside work, online learning might offer more flexibility. Being able to log in on any device enables learners to study at a time, place and speed that suits them, making them more likely to persevere and complete a programme.
However, it is key the human element isn’t lost in the rise of online technology. Excellent courses should still allow learners to engage with individual experts, who bring their own experiences and insights, making each course diverse and bespoke.
By offering learners diversity and flexibility in the way they learn, you can make sure internal training provides the skills they need to excel, as well as delivering true ROI for your business.
About the author
Fredrik Högemark is the CIO and founder of EMG – Educations Media Group.
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