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Learning at Work Week: Innovation in L&D

Innovation in L&D

The most innovative strategies being piloted at LAWW to tackle challenges including the following:

  • Employees don't share knowledge
  • Employees don't think training will impact their performance
  • Employees don't think learning can be done outside the classroom
  • The company is growing too quickly to maintain product knowledge

Innovation is anything but business as usual. In May, approximately one million employees in the U.K. are impacted by Learning at Work Week, an annual celebration of learning where companies and organisations, large and small, shake up their routine and dedicate a week to developing their staff.

Learning at Work Week, organised by the Campaign for Learning, is the perfect excuse to gather the courage and time to cast aside what you know isn’t quite working, cook up solutions and try something new.

Many dedicated HR, talent development and L&D professionals seize on this opportunity to innovate through challenges that are all too familiar: tight budgets, staff spread across remote locations and employees disengaged with their professional development. Learning at Work Week creates many of the conditions for innovation that talent development professionals need but don’t always get. You have a deadline to hold the events in synchrony with the rest of the country and one week to hold your main activities. In short, there are intrinsic time constraints which are often critical to creativity. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, says that “one of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.” Learning at Work Week also lends the opportunities to question existing learning structures and to get buy-in to experiment from staff at all levels.

Innovation sounds great, but what does it look like in real life? Here is some inspiration presented by the challenges that L&D professionals from of a range of company-sizes, team-sizes, and financial resources faced and innovated through. We hope some of these challenges sound familiar and give you some new ideas to tackle them!

Employees don't share knowledge

Overcome this challenge by creating or supporting skill-sharing platforms both on and off-line. Find internal knowledge-sharing networks and work with their founders to help them get more press to recruit new and interested members of staff. Or, invite staff with specialised knowledge to take over training or meeting rooms to share their expertise.

Employees don't think training will impact their performance 

Try promoting testimonials. Invite members of staff who engage with your resources to act as evangelists and create brief videos about what they’ve learned through face-to-face or digital training to drive up sign-ups.

Employees don't realise learning can be done outside of the classroom 

To encourage awareness of flexible training solutions, offer employees rolling taster
sessions of your virtual resources. Some ideas could be taking over screens with playlists of TED talks, setting up a bank of ipads with interactive displays, or a sampling of virtual courses that are relevant across roles.

Mandatory training is a snooze

If participants are bored, try gamification. Unfortunately, some of the most critical training
for staff members can be the most boring and the hardest content to change. Depending on your budget, you can help your employees study for the test in a digital game that you contract out or you can work with a smaller budget by setting up employee competitions in a quiz-show format. Leaderboards add an extra competitive draw and you can work with a pen and paper, free websites, or sophisticated software depending on your budget and scale.

Company is growing too quickly to maintain product knowledge

If you’re onboarding large groups and find they aren’t absorbing and applying product knowledge, instead of introducing a quiz, try gamifying it through an escape room where small teams compete against one another to answer product questions to escape the room in the fastest time.

Employees don't believe their training feedback is heard

If learners feel that their opinions don’t matter, show them the visual. Detailed surveys can be critical, but allowing your employees to show their feedback in the office can be an empowering reminder that their development is a top priority for the organisation. After a large training event, pass around post-its and pens to make a display board with one-word descriptions of what they thought of the training. Display it prominently in your training area or in a high-traffic zone.

Employees in support roles lack product experience

Do the people who keep your organisation running know all about their role but little about the product that you make or the service that you deliver? Offer an informal/accepting platform for your employees to ask “stupid” questions. It can be embarrassing to work for a company or organisation well-known for its expertise but possess no knowledge about how it all works. Ask those employees to anonymously submit all of the questions they were too afraid to ask. Then, invite your experts to deliver simple explanations and share where your product or service is headed to help everyone work towards the same vision.

Leadership isn't modeling a knowledge-sharing culture 

An innovative solution to this challenge could be organising inspirational talks about learning. Invite your senior leaders to deliver TED-style talks about how learning has shaped their lives and the most important lessons they’ve learned in their careers.

Staff is spread across locations 

If you’re struggling to reach remote learners, try out social learning through short training videos or online discussions. Promote company-wide membership to your staff’s private social media channels and use it to share short training videos or live interactive sessions on the most need-to-know topics.

Departments have silo mentality

Help break down borders by asking your senior leaders to host Q&As. Provide a platform for leaders from various departments to host Q&A sessions to help others understand how they work, share knowledge and foster an understanding of other business operations.

This article is part of the U.K. L&D Report 2018: Benchmark Your Workplace Learning Strategy. 

Download the report below:


L&D report

What's included?

  • The employee training budgets, training topics, and training methods of organisations in 2018.

  • Practical advice from L&D leaders to help you adopt new technologies, nurture a learning culture, get the most from the apprenticeship levy and measure and promote the value of workplace learning.

  • How learning professionals rate the executive engagement in learning, assess the impact of training and more!

U.K. L&D Report: 2018
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Last updated: 28 Feb 2019

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