What is Workplace Learning?

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    Des Squire

    Many of the difficulties experienced in the workplace are in fact opportunities for learning either for the employees, managers or supervisors concerned. Opportunities of this nature arise at various times and under a variety of situations. When you help a staff member deal with an angry customer, you have an opportunity to help her learn. When a team member comes to you frustrated by a recent change in a work system, you have an opportunity to help him understand whys the change was necessary.

    Whether we view this as learning or training is a matter of personal opinion. The fact is, learning can take place under a variety of circumstances and in a various situations. Training is not restricted to classroom sessions or to attending a seminar or workshop. Training and learning is taking place at all times during a normal working day.

    People at all levels in a company train others at some point. They all have a role to play in creating an environment of learning that can impact on the way work is done and how people learn.

    Develop an effective culture of learning in the workplace?

     Use all of your intelligence and communication skills

    Establish a connection with employees – the learners. Listen to what they have to say and be understanding where appropriate. Be patient and show genuine interest. Your attitude toward learning will have a big impact on learner attitudes. Make sure you’re a good role model for continuous, active and ongoing learning. Remember – leadership and example comes from the top and filters down to others.

     People must want to learn and need to be motivated

    People do not want to change and some do not want to learn. Some believe learning just happens over time. This is not exactly true.
    We can teach people skills but do they have the ability to apply these skills. Can we teach them to apply the skills we have imparted? To do so may require a change in approach and in how things have been done in the past.

    In 1983, John Keller developed – ARCS. This stands for Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. This model has been used effectively by many trainers and teachers since then.

    Attention – Capture learners’ attention at the start of the session, and maintain it throughout. Ask the learners questions to help them understand why they should learn the skill. You can also make use of role-plays to get the message across.

    Relevance – Explain to how the lesson might benefit them. Having a strategy for dealing with customer complaints, for example, can reduce the levels of stress and anxiety. Make sure the learning material and assignments are applicable to their work, and to specific situations they face daily.

    Confidence – Tell learners what is expected of them. Set clear objectives and check with learners to make sure they’re not falling behind.

    Design projects in such a way as to ensure the learners experience small successes along the way. Give learners enough time to practice skills in order to ensure they will be successful in applying the skill or lesson learned in the workplace. Develop the overall confidence of the learners by allowing them to give input and encouraging them to create their own learning goals.

    Satisfaction – Reinforce successes and motivate the learners by giving ongoing and constructive feedback. The feedback should be positive and where possible relate to how the learner can put the lesson learned into practice. Reinforce with the learners that you and the company value and appreciate high levels of professionalism, skill, expertise and competence.

     Motivation and career development

    Find out what learners are interested in and try to establish what their passion is? What make the learner tick? Let the learners discuss these openly if possible so others will understand what makes them tick and what motivates them. This will assist in creating an environment where learners want to help each other and to motivate one another.

    Place emphasis on the connection between learning and career development. Discuss issues like increased job satisfaction, career opportunities, promotions and related salary increases.

     Employees can learn from each other

    Try to encourage people to work together and to share experiences. Encourage them to understand that by working with others who are learning the same skills they can help each other succeed and will strengthen the overall effectiveness of the whole team.

     Discuss and review the learning experience with the learners

    By reviewing the learning experience we have an opportunity to learn from the experience. Reviews will also give learners opportunities to analyse their performance, and increase their commitment to continuous learning.

    © Des Squire (Managing Member)

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    Annette Loubser

    This is such a nice share and the ARCS system is a very useful approach to workplace learning. Thank you.

    Des Squire

    So glad you enjoyed this Annette. We sometimes forget how important these things (ARCS) are. So much can be achieved if workplace learning becomes habitual – amazingly even the managers can benefit.


    Thank you for a very useful article. I am learning so much reading through the articles.

    Collin Padayachee

    Thank you Des for sharing. This is very helpful and helps keep things in perspective.

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