Learning at Work is the Most Effective Way to Learn

Learning at Work is the Most Effective Learning

With Learning at Work Week just around the corner (13th to 19th May 2019 - @CforLearning) it seems pertinent to talk about the value of learning ‘on the job’. I don’t mean throwing new employees in at the deep end and letting them ‘pick it up as you go along’. I refer to a much more structured approach to on the job learning, often referred to as Performance Support.

Let’s consider the theory
If we look back at one of the early learning theories, first introduced in the 1980s by McCall, Lombardo and Eichinger - the 70:20:10 Framework, the basic principle that individuals obtain far greater knowledge from job-related experiences than they do from formal training still holds true today. Learning as a one-time activity, to get a tick in a box, or to get a learner to pass an assessment, will never be as effective in enabling the learner to retain that knowledge long-term. Hands-on experience (the 70 percent) is the most beneficial form of learning because it enables the learner to discover and refine their job-related skills, make decisions, address challenges, learn from their mistakes and receive immediate feedback on their performance.

Keeping control
Learning ‘on the job’ often gets a bad reputation - it takes control away from the L&D Team and is an opportunity for the workforce to learn bad practices from colleagues who are using outdated processes. However, if it’s done right, using a ‘single source of the truth’ knowledge base that is accessible to everyone, then it doesn’t have to be a threat to the harmony and control imposed by Learning and Development.

I’m not saying that learning on the job suits every situation, not exclusively, and it certainly isn’t applicable to all industries. Direct learning on the job without any formal training could be hazardous in some cases. However, even if the theoretical classroom training is necessary, providing some on the job experience first often helps to give relevance and context before embarking on what might be considered a ‘heavy’ training programme.

Then there’s the cost
Traditionally, training budgets have included the cost of Trainers and the number of classroom days needed. However, they haven’t always considered the hidden costs such as what’s lost to the business when employees are taken away from their ‘day jobs’, or what they will lose by providing irrelevant or unnecessary training.

From a budgeting perspective, if businesses invest more in creating effective on the job training, it can actually save them money because it will allow far more efficient learning. Don’t cut the L&D budget, expand it!

It’s not rocket science!
Most employees will use search engines every day to find the information that they need, right when they need it. When the information is specific to the organisation and the learner’s job role, that can save a huge amount of time for the individual, and therefore benefits the organisation. Offering mechanisms for your employees to learn on the job means that they get the answers they need quickly and are not detracted from their day job by completing lengthy eLearning courses or even attending classroom sessions. That’s where the business case for Performance Support can truly be seen and the real return on investment lies.

Find out more
Our Guide to Performance Support discusses how on the job training can deliver the best return for employers and employees. You can download a free copy here.

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Janice Brown is the founding director of Larmer Brown Limited. She has worked with Oracle’s User Productivity Kit (UPK) technology since 1994 and has over 25 years’ experience in the design and delivery of end user driven implementations. Janice has Diplomas in Business Studies and is a member of the Institute of IT Training.

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