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Katrin Kircheis

KiKa Training Limited

Managing Director and Learning Consultant

Read more from Katrin Kircheis

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Learning on the spot: how collaboration encourages workflow learning


Do we need to be concerned with measuring the impact of training outcomes if employees are achieving their goals through taking a more collaborative, peer-to-peer approach to learning?

Having worked in learning and development for the better part of a decade, I had to learn how to deal with one fact over and over again – training is often put at the back end of budget requests because it usually takes a long time to measure its impact.

However, offering opportunities for people to grow and develop themselves is one of the biggest factors in their job satisfaction.

In a survey conducted by Josh Bersin in partnership with LinkedIn last year, professionals were asked about where they spend their time at work and what drives their satisfaction levels. “Employees who spend a lot of time on the job learning are measurably more engaged, productive, and successful than their peers,” says Bersin.

The survey results show that people who spend more time learning on the job are, for example: 

  • 74% more likely to know where they want to go in their careers

  • 48% more likely to find purpose in their work

  • 47% less likely to be stressed

  • 39% more likely to feel productive and successful

The Udemy ‘State of the ROI of Learning Report’ from 2018 also says that “Highly-engaged companies spend more on learning”, and that businesses can increase their retention rates by also offering more career and growth opportunities. 

Now link that back to the 74% of ‘heavy learners’ from Josh Bersin’s survey who are more likely to know what they want from their career, and you have the start of a pretty good recipe for employee engagement and a reason for spending more energy embedding learning into work, rather than inventing complicated methods of measuring learning transfer after employees have completed a series of workshops or ‘click-next’ e-learning modules. 

Collaborative on-the-job learning

Today, we are in constant need of information in real time to help us complete our tasks, but are often made to wait for specific training to happen. A much better way to get the information is to know where to find it or who we can ask to get an answer.

A collaborative approach like peer-to-peer or social learning is a great way for people to teach each other on the spot. It additionally provides people with more autonomy at work, which, according to CIPHR “May also be the most important factor when nurturing a culture of engagement within a company.” Engaged employees are more productive and miss less days at work. 

When encouraging collaborative learning on the job, we also need to encourage people to welcome immediate feedback. This helps them to retain the information better, improve performance and boost skills growth.

Autonomy is key

Source: DisruptHR2 – Screenshot from DisruptHR video, filmed by the organisers of the DisruptHR conference in Nottingham (PeopleFirst)

Your company is a gold mine and information is your currency.

Information is free to share using a collaborative learning approach, and to implement this you need to make learning a habit by providing opportunities and tools for your employees to exchange their knowledge with each other.

Using an approach like this (team work essentially) will encourage people to take responsibility for their learning. Also, as information is learned through conversations with colleagues it is far more likely to be retained. Just think back to your time at school and how you learned or remembered more through during group projects, discussing ideas and explaining different topics.

As you can hopefully see, there are so many advantages to integrating learning into everyone’s daily tasks. Letting your employees decide when, how and where they learn will provide them and your company with greater job satisfaction, engagement, performance and productivity. To name just a few.

By setting clear goals for your employees, alongside providing the right opportunities and support, you can help them learn and work more collaboratively with their colleagues. As a result, your people will be well on their way to delivering the results your company needs to reach its goals. 

The performance business

There is still room for traditional training such as workshops or e-learning, but in line with the 70-20-10 model this should only take up about 10% of the learning your company offers. Charles Jennings, Co-founder of the methodology, emphasises that learning and development professionals are in the performance, not the learning, business. 

Source: CJ LearnTech – Photo taken by Katrin Kircheis

So, if you want your employees, and in turn your company, to perform better, give your people the opportunity to learn, anytime and anywhere!

And maybe we don’t actually need to measure the learning outcomes directly, but more the end-results. If everyone hits their goals and does a good job, does it matter how they got there? Just trust them and let them get on with it – they are after all adults capable of making their own decisions.

Interested in reading more on the learning transfer debate? Find out what how Charles Jennings views the training transfer problem.

Author Profile Picture
Katrin Kircheis

Managing Director and Learning Consultant

Read more from Katrin Kircheis

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