How to design and deliver an inclusive workplace learning strategy

diverse employee group training
iStock/rawpixel
Share this content

In order to create an inclusive learning environment, organisations must first look at their existing business culture to see where changes can be made.

On average, one in ten employees don’t receive personal development at work, and this rises to 25% of employees in small businesses.

This presents a serious challenge, which needs to be addressed by organisations to improve employee recognition and business performance.

Inclusive workplaces ascribe a high value to equal opportunity and continuous learning is best placed to attract a wide pool of talent in this highly competitive working world.

Studies have shown a strong learning culture leads to 30-50% higher engagement rates from employees and therefore greater productivity.

Here, we’ll discuss how businesses can deliver inclusive learning strategies to support the progression of all employees, positively impact job satisfaction and enhance commitment in the workplace.

From the start

Inclusive employee learning should be weaved into all aspects of an organisation’s strategy.

From recruitment onwards, your business needs to communicate the policies and practices that support professional development, to ensure current and potential employees are aware of their entitlements from the offset.

A study by Deloitte found that 52% of millennials draw on the knowledge they have accumulated through on-the-job training or professional development.

When recruiting new employees, showcase your learning opportunities. The new generation of workers clearly expect a level of career development to be in place for them to better themselves.

Offering options such as job rotations or work placements across various departments will enable employees to experience a variety of roles and responsibilities to ensure they are in an area which interests and inspires them.

Tailor and target  

Mckinsey suggests that prioritising investment in learning and development goes hand in hand with building an inclusive organisational culture.

However, organisations often make the mistake of thinking there is a fixed way of implementing inclusive learning, without realising that every employee is different. Therefore, an individual-focused approach is usually best.

The best learning cultures are reinforced by communities of practice, where learners can readily identify colleagues and team members who help them ‘fit in’ to new settings and who make positive contributions to their learning.

Carefully consider the key characteristics of your workplace to develop and communicate a strategy unique to your business with the potential to evolve over time.

It’s important to create balanced training programmes that combine and integrate a mix of content and activities to engage and challenge all learners.

For example, you can amalgamate individual learning with assignments that involve discussions as part of small teams. While some employees might prefer studying on their own, including a collaborative element creates a network of peer support to help motivate individuals to complete a course.

Channels such as social media and internal networks should be used to get the message out and make information easily accessible. Visuals work well too, such as posters around the office showing how employee training has made a real difference.

Make it heard

You may have planned the best initiatives, but research has shown that workplaces are not necessarily ‘invitational’ to all learners, whose opinions may be shaped by personal aspects like gender, socioeconomic background or apparent differences in motivation, enthusiasm or interest.

The best learning cultures are reinforced by communities of practice, where learners can readily identify colleagues and team members who help them ‘fit in’ to new settings and who make positive contributions to their learning.

Companies like PwC set up their own version of this concept, introducing change agents known as ‘inclusion allies’ into their internal corporate networks. These are individuals who support and advocate a positive learning culture for other employees.

These platforms have been designed to make all employees feel they have a voice and are confident in raising or discussing any current issues with their job roles. This will mean your workplace champions also remain well informed enough to request adjustments, so everyone can be their best selves at work.

Such insights enable HR teams to develop partnerships with specialist recruitment agencies to facilitate a successful and positive experience for candidates, recruiters and hiring managers.

Keep it easy

Adaptability is key in today’s workforce. With 67% of employees wishing they were offered flexible working, now is a good time to start looking into these practices.

Creating a flexible learning approach is a great starting point and with the rise of more digitally enabled workplaces, it means personalised and online learning could also become more accessible and adapted to suit organisations of all sizes.

Focusing on employees’ needs enables companies to provide tailored schemes, which produce the best ROI for the business.

Being able to log in on any device helps learners to study at a time, place and speed that suits them, making them more likely to persevere and complete a programme. Online learning can also benefit employees who are particularly time-poor due to additional responsibilities outside work.

However, it is key that the human element isn’t lost in the rise of technology-based learning. The best courses should still allow learners to participate with individual experts, who bring their own experiences and insights, making each course varied and personalised to every learner.

Get feedback

A survey from CIPD states a lack of effective evaluation can contribute to skills gaps being undetected. Constant monitoring and improvement are vital to understand how you can progress your L&D initiatives to suit the changing needs of your workforce.

So, what are some of the best ways to spot where these gaps and potential opportunities are hiding? Conducting staff surveys, focus groups and ongoing employee forums is a good starting point to help you identify where they may be room for change.

An inclusive learning environment will positively impact employees’ wellbeing, morale and boost their overall productivity and performance.

A thorough analysis of each job role is also essential, so HR teams can establish the level of experience, qualifications, skills and training needed to perform a job successfully.

Start by running staff interviews to collect information about tasks and how employees are coping with them.

Think of this as a scientific study where you need a large pool of respondent to make the results solid. You can't determine how a role works with only one person's opinion and you need a larger sample size to see what is the same and different across the board.

An observation method could be used alongside this, to monitor employees in their daily routines. The information collected through observation is extremely useful and reliable since it offers first-hand knowledge.

Observation is the only job analysis method allowing HR and L&D professionals to directly obtain data, whereas other job analysis methods collect it indirectly and in an orchestrated environment.

Focusing on employees’ needs enables companies to provide tailored schemes, which produce the best ROI for the business.

An inclusive learning environment, which can be incorporated into your business culture will also positively impact employees’ wellbeing, morale and boost their overall productivity and performance.

Need more information? Read Eight tips for shaping your training strategy around flexible working.

About Fredrik Högemark

Fredrik Hogemark

Fredrik Högemark is the CIO and founder of findcourses.co.uk and EMG Media Group. Today, EMG is the market leader of education marketing and operates the world's largest search engines for education and training. With the vision of helping everyone in the world find the right education, it partners with over 4,000 education providers and helps over two million students in their search for education each month.

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

There are currently no replies, be the first to post a reply.