Workplace Learning
ATD Blog

5 Steps to Fix Workplace Learning

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Employee training often consists of long, exhaustive seminars that contain multiple videos and required readings. This content quickly becomes outdated—how often is yours updated?

How we learn is similar to the concept of information foraging, which means people calculate the likelihood that a source gives them an answer against the time spent finding that answer. If they know someone has the answer, they're more likely to bother the person instead of looking elsewhere.

This model and training coincide with the Forgetting Curve, a concept that explains the steep drop off in retention if we don't reinforce what we’ve learned.

The biggest takeaway from research on how we learn as adults is that relevant information needs to be presented when it is needed and in bite-sized pieces. This is where “just-in-time learning” comes into play.

Just-in-time learning aims to deliver consumable pieces of information at the time your employee needs to use it. Remember, most adults prefer to learn by doing, and we all can struggle with selective attention. Information must be delivered in a way that is not overwhelming.

Let’s review five steps that can help make learning at work successful.


1. Make training relevant and timely.
Your employees want to learn information that will help them. Focus on how the information will benefit them to be more successful in their positions. Rather than bombarding your new hires with hours of information, deliver small doses of microcontent when they need it.

2. Consider the value of your employees’ time.
Take into account the hourly salary of your employees and the time they are in training. If you calculate their hourly rate against the hours of training, how expensive are your classes if the employee is not getting value and retaining knowledge? If your employees feel that the training is a waste of their time, they’ll multitask through the course. Make sure the benefit is clear to your employees and that you are developing your training with specific and measurable goals.

3. Involve your employees in the learning process.
Are your employees actively involved in training, or are they passive attendees? Involving your employees in the training process is much more effective. Peers respect peers, and coworkers communicate with one another better than they do with upper management or an instructor. Most importantly, when your employees are involved in the process, they take ownership of the outcome.


4. Balance learning with physical needs.
For your training to be successful, your employees need to be in a good place both mentally and physically. If you are hosting intensive in-person training, provide plenty of brain breaks, time for walking or stretching, healthy snacks, and ways to stay hydrated.

5. Structure your learning program with a multifaceted approach.
The need for your employees to reskill and upskill will continue to be important for the success of your team, especially as your organization strives to thrive through change. When it comes to learning, there is no silver bullet approach. Build a learning strategy that is versatile and broad to benefit the majority of your employees.

Learning at work today is broken, but it doesn't have to be! With these five steps, your employees will be more engaged, prepared, and set up for success.

About the Author

Melanie Fellay is cofounder and CEO at Spekit. Described as having “unshakeable grit and a thirst for solving complex problems,” Melanie has devoted her professional life to advancing a vision of a world where every employee has access to the knowledge they need to be successful, exactly when and where they need it.

Fascinated with how we learn and absorb information, Melanie uncovered gaps between how employees are traditionally trained in the workplace and how humans actually retain knowledge. She co-founded Spekit to solve this challenge, creating a platform designed around how people learn. Flipping the script on the outdated LMS courses, PDFs, and lengthy trainings, Spekit automatically surfaces answers and training directly within the applications/workflows where questions arise. Today, the world’s most innovative companies, including Uber Freight, iHeartMedia, Southwest Airlines, and Invesco, rely on Spekit to maximize the growth and impact of their employees.

Along the journey to reinvent learning at work, Melanie actively shares the trials and tribulations of scaling an organization as a female founder. From overcoming imposter syndrome to embracing radical candor to leading a team with your heart first—she is redefining what it means to be a “boss lady” in a male-dominated world.

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