Outcome-based work learning focuses on the results or outcomes that employees are expected to achieve as a result of the training approaches or workplace learning methods.
It is a performance-based approach that emphasises the importance of aligning training with the goals and objectives of the organisation. The primary focus is on what employees should be able to do in the roles (the desired competence) as a result of the training. General outcomes could include improved employee performance, efficiency, and effectiveness.
This approach is often used in workplace training and development, where employees must apply their new knowledge and skills to their job tasks and responsibilities.
Enterprises have jumped on the bandwagon to adopt the latest technology, such as mobile and remote learning, virtual reality simulations, IoT-(Internet of Things) enabled serious games, and custom bespoke programs to drive employee skills development.
Globally, enterprises are making more significant investments in human capital development to achieve business competitiveness and sustainable growth.
A recent HBR survey has shared that enterprises spend $350 billion yearly on employee learning and development (L&D) programs. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily lead to success and sustainable work learning with the desired return on investment.
Without a proper strategy, many corporate learning programs will drain resources and diminish organizational learning culture.
The following are common challenges when navigating and implementing their learning strategy:
- Reskilling or upskilling for a digital workplace
- Complexities in enterprise systems and networks
- Lacking conditions for remote learning in hybrid work
- Ineffective and outdated learning and development methods
- Lack of employee feedback on L&D and personal growth
- Poor design or wrong measurement used for ROI of L&D programs
- Little or no structure in scaling personalised L&D programs
- Lacking in development opportunities for leaders from within the enterprise
- Priority and mindset of stakeholders on time for professional development
Sustainable work-based learning
Before taking the dive to develop methods for outcome-based work learning, it is crucial to have a good understanding of the baseline of work learning. The factors that impact work in the present and future are:
- How work is ‘done’ – remotely, virtually, collaboratively, automated, tech assisted. What is the value the work brings?
- The ageing population, intergenerational, diversity and inclusion. How is the workforce using their skills effectively? What are their attributes, mindset and behaviours towards work?
How will workplace conditions support this? What are the external factors that accelerate work productivity?
Adopting workplace learning
This is an excellent and effective L&D strategy for the enterprise. Such workplace learning experience design must be fit-for-purpose for employees to apply what they learn at the right time, effectively and in depth.
Any workplace learning framework and outcomes should be developed collaboratively, where stakeholders can add value to performance goals.
The following are popular workplace learning methods and approaches used in an integrated manner for the enterprise:
- Guided reflection through journaling
- Coaching (group)
- Coaching with team members
- Community of practice with peers
Good practices for workplace learning
- Anchor the learning principle – ‘work’ as curriculum, when designing and implementing workplace learning
- The use of performance support tools such as job aids to support employees in their learning journey
- Establish a learning support community in the organisation
- Adopting suitable workplace learning methods by co-creating with stakeholders and experts
Enterprise leaders and managers can start with bite-size coaching methods (short, targeted learning bursts and demo-ing) on project expectations and broad project processes, sharing video resources, and providing feedback at key project phases.
Workplace learning needs to be deliberate, providing job performance support and technology tools (micro and mobile learning) that complement the learning in the work experience. Learning can and should happen anytime and anywhere if resource permits.
Other avenues that boost workplace learning motivation could include:
- Credentialing or skills badging as motivators for learning and recognition for learners who are progressing.
- Use of tech resources, simulated, chatbots and programming to learning structures (scaffolding and feedback)
Despite a hybrid or remote work climate, some workplaces still report they do not have time to release people to go for training off the job.
Suppose an organization designed a well-developed work learning plan at both the strategic and ground levels. In that case, the organization is leveraging what happens naturally in the workplace.
The core approach is designing learning in the flow of work so that employees can develop the right skills for their work performance.
Designing this work learning is more than creating events and using appropriate technology as enablers; it is about an entire building and sustaining learning as the whole ecosystem.
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