The skills market is littered with challenges at the moment.

Employers need to save costs while demanding more from their people and trying to retain them.  

Some organisations are therefore exploring cost-effective learning and development solutions to upskill, reskill and retain valuable people.

This recent report from City & Guilds highlights the importance of getting it right. 

Nowadays, the need for capable engaged workforces is as critical as it ever was.

Drawing back to one of our previous posts about the five key questions centred around employee engagement: “Now is a very apt time to dive into learning and development.”

At a time when companies require so much from their employees.

Are they providing them with what they need to perform?

❓Are they clear in their expectations?

❓Do they support them in acquiring the skills needed to perform well?

Nothing creates value like people do.   

They are the asset that doesn’t depreciate.  

A relatively small investment in your people can generate massive increases in value for both employers and employees.

Valued and invested employees are far more likely to remain loyal to a business and stay.

It’s about how you make your people feel valued and help them deliver value.

Can you afford to develop our people? 

What are the consequences if you don’t?

To mention some; unhappy, unsatisfied employees, reduced productivity, increased staff turnover and more.

Everything a company should be keen to avoid. 

The most important task is to understand what capabilities you need in your people. 

Developing people is something that should be approached strategically, not tactically.

Organisations need to look at the whole picture, explore their goals and identify the abilities they need in their people.

A purely tactical view of training leads to inefficiency and reduced effectiveness. 

It can also disengage your most talented people.  

🗸Look at ALL the things people need to do and avoid being blasé about things that people should just be able to do.

🗸Don’t take any skills for granted. For example, avoid assuming that people will of course be naturally good at communicating with each other and that managers will just know how to listen.

The ability to communicate should not be seen as a “soft skill”. Communication skills make a significant difference and should be at the top of the priority list of training needs. 


Will the “new normal” style of training work? 

Training should be something that happens as part of work, not as an isolated side activity.

People might have preconceptions of learning and might expect a ‘talked at’ approach rather than an engaging experience.

Yet, the experience can be completely different. And the right approach can lead to people investing in self-development and committing to making it work. 

The future of learning is blended.

A blended learning approach uses the right methods, at the right time, to develop people and to make the best use of tight budgets.

Companies can choose a face-to-face learning method or an online delivery, or a mixture of both.

When choosing, they need to consider both the advantages and disadvantages of different learning deliveries.

A lot of learners may still prefer the discipline and familiarity that face-to-face learning brings. Equally online learning can be an effective way to engage and learn.  

Recently, the online learning approach has become even more prevalent, and for good reasons.

It’s not just about ease and accessibility.

Research suggests that online learning increases the retention of information and takes less time.

This was illustrated in an education setting during the pandemic where on average, students retained 25-60% more material when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom and learnt faster.

In a corporate setting; e-learning requires 40-60% less employee time than that learned in a classroom environment, with retention rates also being 25-60%.

Little wonder then, that: 

42% of companies say online learning has led to increased revenue. With every $30 in productivity for every $ invested in training.

Additionally, companies that use online learning technologies achieve an 18% boost in employee engagement.

A clear understanding of the learners and the capabilities they need to develop should guide the choice of the best learning solution for organisations. 

How can I train smarter, not harder? 

The importance of developing employees is widely confirmed by research and the benefits are many.

From growing knowledge, and improving skills to building responsibilities, as illustrated by the leading recruitment site Indeed.

People are likely to learn more if challenged and asked to give practical responses.

Learning opportunities should be made accessible to everyone and part of the flow of work.

This sustainable approach will cultivate curiosity and engagement while ensuring that the right content is available. 

This training method makes learning more real so that people are more likely to take on board what has been known and put it into practice.

Science for Work explores this science of learning who want to #MakeWorkBetter.

The principles are simple:

✔️EVALUATE SKILLS to distinguish between what people coulddo in their role and what they will do.

✔️ADOPT A SUSTAINABLE, REALISTIC APPROACH to promote applied learning, giving people the confidence to start their learning journey.

✔️ENCOURAGE OWNERSHIP AND SELF-WORTH by supporting and: communicating the training benefits, being transparent about expectations, and what it looks like to do the job well.

The aim of all this is to achieve higher learning transfer and implementation.

While the term ‘in the moment’ learning is not new; John Seely Brown discusses how to ensure it’s actively pursued as part of the new cultures of learning

“We’re moving from ‘stocks’ of knowledge to ‘flows’ of knowledge being the valuable commodity to possess. Another way to look at stocks vs. flows is as protecting knowledge assets and resisting change vs. participating in knowledge flows and creating new knowledge.” 

This is where we can look to train smarter, not harder and make training less daunting. 

How do I make change happen through learning? 

Be clear about how people can best develop their abilities.

As a business, you can use learning to help your people achieve the company’s goals and expectations.

And this can be done by reviewing the way people experience training.

Instead, create relevant, engaging, and practical approaches that are right for your teams and the environments they operate in.  

Encourage them to move away from the “I haven’t got time to do this training”, “I don’t feel like training” or “I don’t need training” mentality. If this is what you are hearing, it’s possible that they haven’t understood the true context of the training or how that fits within the overall business.

🗫 Openly communicate, listen and see how your people respond to learning.

🫶Get on their wavelength, appreciate the pressures they’re under and talk to them.

🤝Remember that taking people on a training journey it’s not all one-sided: they need to believe that they can create new knowledge by stepping up and committing.  

As John Seely Brown also highlights:

“People learn through their interaction and participation with one another in fluid relationships that are the result of shared interests and opportunity.” 

“The challenge is to find ways to marry structure and freedom to create altogether new things.” 

How to engage your people in a learning journey

What we want is for people to feel that learning does not have to be daunting or unengaging.

With easier access to relevant, engaging learning materials and support, you can empower your employees to learn in-the-moment.

This makes it a more constructive and enjoyable experience that makes people feel positive and engaged about what they have learnt.

People will be appreciative of what skills they have gained, gaining a clear view of how this new knowledge can apply to everyday work.

Ian Luxford

Ian Luxford

Learning and Engagement Specialist

Qualified to master’s level in education, organisational development and learning technologies, Ian has over thirty years of experience in creating employee engagement solutions across diverse industry sectors.