learning and development

Got Burned-Out Employees? Rethink Learning and Development

As we transition to a post-pandemic working world, I need my team to ________.

How did you fill in the blank? 

Many organizations need employees to focus on a host of skills and tasks to help their business bounce back from the pandemic. Priorities include improving communication, building resilience, selling, cultivating digital dexterity, and more. All this is important, yet there’s a major problem: many employees aren’t in learning mode.

It’s not that employees are lazy, unmotivated, or dispassionate about their development. It’s simply that they’re experiencing employee burnout, and as they transition back to the office, they feel can’t take on more. Having to learn new skills on top of reintegrating with teams, settling into a “new” office, and readjusting their work schedule feels like an overwhelming proposition.

Regardless, there are skills that teams need to develop right now for businesses to achieve both short-term and long-term results. 

To resolve this, businesses must embrace the reality that as the concept of work has been disrupted, so has the concept of learning. Traditional approaches to development–like face-to-face instructionneed to be re-imagined to ensure that employees can build skills at the right pace. What’s more, new ways of thinking and working must be introduced gradually to ensure they can become sustainable habits.

To achieve this, employers must integrate learning into a professional’s day-to-day work life and streamline it. Here are four ways to make this happen.

Abandon classroom training. 

Not forever. Just for now. Employees have zero appetite for cramming into a small room with their teams to listen to a PowerPoint lecture for hours. And lengthy learning games and ice breakers? Forget about them. During the pandemic, we learned how important our time is. Even the idea of sitting in a classroom can be un-motivating. For employers and safety restrictions, it’s also an unnecessary extra hurdle to prepare a room for learning. We now know there are other ways to learn. You can learn virtually, independently, through asynchronous methods, and more. Right now is not the time for classroom learning. Maybe in the future. But not now.

Think hybrid. 

Just as we now have a new appreciation for what a hybrid work environment looks like, learning should take the same approach. By looking at their learning methods (in-person learning, virtual learning, live vs recorded instruction, self-led development, book clubs, etc.) employers can create a mashup. Identify the skills that need to be developed and the time it takes to develop each respective skill. Then, be creative with how you can build the skill in micro-learning sessions over a set period of time. In regard to micro-learning, think about a learning session that takes less than 90 minutes.

For example, you can partner with clients to deliver cohort training, which leverages group, virtual learning, and one-on-one coaching. Deliver the group learning in multiple micro-sessions. The coaching serves as a supplement to ensure that the knowledge shared is both retained and customized for each participant. Make each group learning session 60 t0 90 minutes. Allow each coaching call to be 30 to 45 minutes. Deliver content over the course of three months to support development, while ensuring that nothing is more than any participant can handle. Have each participant schedule their coaching session at a time that best suits their schedule. Cohort training is ideal for time-constrained managers.

Leverage technology. 

We’re all gifted at leveraging Zoom, Teams, and Google by now. There are still different platforms we can utilize to share knowledge, like Padlet, Quizlet, Mural, and more. Help employees learn at their own pace with LinkedIn Learning and other sites like Udemy and Coursera.

It’s not all on the shoulders of employers to create and distribute content. You can design a self-paced course, complete with accountability metrics, to provide your employees with the right amount of learning at the time that’s right for them. Don’t make learning a time-consuming affair. Spread it out over a longer period of time. It also doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’ve got the right partner with the right platform.

Share the responsibility.  

Professionals showed creativity in the “getting stuff done” department during the COVID-19 crisis. Allow them to apply their ingenuity around their skills development. Provide the expectation, share the options, and then allow them to find their time to learn. Forced-fed learning is rarely effective. Setting a high standard, allowing team members autonomy, and reinforcing with accountability is a great way to generate engagement. As an added bonus, this method helps encourage on-the-job learning. This is more valuable because professionals get to apply what they’re learning in real-time, ensuring that the habits they’re building become lasting. After all, real-life learning is always more impactful than learning done in a laboratory setting.

Re-imagine learning and development. An incremental, micro-learning approach to development has never been more on time and on target.