In an uncertain environment with the strong skills-based competition, organizations have increasingly come to view workplace learning as a means by which they can achieve not only short term objectives but also long term strategic goals. Workplace learning mostly occurs through work-related interactions and is generally described as contributing to the learning of both the individual employee and the organization as a whole.
Workplace learning should be emphasized. In a general sense, as human resources become increasingly the defining competitive asset of organizations, enhancing learning opportunities in jobs contributes to their economic success. We will now go through the characteristics of a workplace that actively promote learning and development and identify what is required to create a sustainable culture of learning in an organization.
Different types of learning reinforce each other. Learning specialists differentiate between three different types of learning: formal, and informal learning. Formal learning refers to knowledge gained through education. This learning is often based on theory, and learners receive proof of their learning in the form of academic credits or certificates. Informal learning refers to organized learning at work, for example, coaching, workplace meetings and reflective discussion groups, networking events or seminars.
In workplace learning, formal and informal learning are not separate. Rather, they interact and reinforce each other. In a workplace learning programme the learning facilitator, for example, will often draw on participants’ experiences at work, on workplace tasks and the employer organization’s documentation. Together with the participants, the learning facilitator will connect practical workplace examples to the theoretical reasoning and underpinning knowledge. This allows individuals to share knowledge and practice and values with others in their team. Specific instances of practice can be put into a broader theoretical context that gives them coherence and meaning, leading in turn to deeper insight and more options for action.
Create a structure for learning
A basic tenet of workplace learning is that learning happens all-time in the workplace. But learning can be given more or less favorable conditions. One of your most important tasks is to create a structure for learning. For a workplace learning programme, you need to provide appropriate learning space and staff cover so that participants in the programme can attend without feeling bad about overloading non-participating colleagues with extra work.
Encourage Participation and Empowerment
Empowerment has become a widespread concept in many different types of organization. Empowerment gives the employee a direct responsibility for organizational performance and development. The step from being just an employee who does only what they are told to being a colleague willing to take real responsibility is often large. But it can be made easier if the workplace provides the right conditions. Employees need a chance to articulate their experiences and reflect on them. They need to be able to discuss their experiences and knowledge, see patterns and draw conclusions with their colleagues. One of the manager’s most important tasks in a learning organization is to create time and space for learning and reflection.
Compliance and Development
In organizational development, a distinction is often made between compliance-oriented and development-oriented learning. Compliance learning is learning that is mandatory in maintaining or enhancing a worker’s competence in a range of tasks. In development-oriented learning staff critically evaluate different working methods and approaches. Participants question and analyze both their own work patterns and organizational working practices. At a time when the business environment is becoming increasingly unpredictable, it is perhaps more important than ever to question practices and approaches and be able to see situations from different perspectives. For an enterprise to maintain staff competencies while also developing itself as an organization, both types of learning are needed.
Any attempt to introduce change at work can meet resistance. A suggestion that a member of staff might benefit from developing their competence may be perceived as negative criticism. Some members of staff may consider reflective discussions as a waste of valuable time. Others may feel that integrated workplace learning is not ‘real learning’. Networking managers, learning facilitators and staff can be an effective way to keep commitment alive. Networking lets you draw inspiration from how others have solved problems and moved forward. You get tips on new approaches and methods. The networks are forums for discussion and reflection that provide support for on-going work.
Addressing weaknesses means not only acknowledging that they exist but also taking the necessary steps to improve upon it. Doing so will allow employees within the company to strengthen their skills for development which will bridge the perceived gap and bring forward leverage that can be used in the future. Such improvements will have a purpose throughout employment, which will open the gateway to opportunities.
Demonstrating consistency happens when employees are allowed time and space to apply what they have learned. To encourage this behavior, workplace learning can be modified to make lessons repetitious to reduce skills decay. This will develop into fundamental capabilities that help them work better independently and in group settings, with the confidence of knowing they have been provided with the proper training and skills to do their job efficiently.
Workplace learning presents an opportunity to expand the knowledge and skills of all employees. It can help the company’s mission and vision and is recommended as a tool to engage employees and invest in the growth of the company. Workplace learning should be a top priority because it is going to happen, regardless of the methods used to administer it. As an employer, it is crucial that you take this process seriously because it can be the reason for your company’s success or the beginning of its downfall.
Carl Tapi is a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carl-tapi-45776482/ Phone +263 (242) 481946-48/481950 or cell number +263 772 469 680 or email: [email protected] or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com
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