Authors:- Mariam Shoaib & Hira Sarfaraz.
An ice-breaker here and a guided walk-through of best practices there – there is a real risk of corporate training sessions becoming predictable and unproductive. While the management may be comfortable investing in familiar training formats, their effectiveness depends on the participants’ level of engagement. If the target group of employees is disinterested in customer service skills training, there is probably a need to add some variety!
One way to change things up is by adopting experiential learning into your organisation’s regularly-held professional development workshops. Swap banquet halls in chic hotels for picnic grounds in a local forest reserve or take a conventional, on-site training to an off-site location. Contemporary learning and development experts insist on real-life experiences to create teachable moments for the participants. This applies whether the participant works in a law firm or a fast-food outlet. Experiential learning, also known as ‘learning by doing’, is when a facilitator encourages the participant to directly interact with the training’s subject matter. In experiential learning-based workshops, the participant is meant to learn by doing and prior knowledge is not required. Trainings based on traditional learning methodology, however, hinge on conveying the core concepts before transitioning towards an experience.
Here are some examples of experiential learning-based programs for the workplace:
Simulation-based learning leverages the power of technology to create a hypothetical scenario which simulates a real-world situation for the trainees. This technique allows an individual to get first-hand experience of real-world business situations.
Gamification refers to applying game principles (points, badges, rewards, and levels, etc.) to non-gaming experiences. Gamification offers an immersive learning opportunity for the workforce. The trainees play a game that is centered on one key theme and they master the skills while playing the game. Gamification allows employees to practice team-building skills in a stress-free environment.
Case studies are a lot like fairy-tales, except the characters are businesses, their employees, and their clients. Studying relevant case studies provides trainees with exposure to common challenges that businesses usually face within an industry.
Trainees who participate in role-playing gain a deeper understanding of what a customer or colleague is going through. Such activities allow employees to see situations from the other individual’s perspective. This technique can be essential to empathy-building exercises for trainees in customer support roles.
Anything But Routine
More and more organisations are gravitating towards experiential learning after witnessing the effectiveness of experiential training. To sustain high employee-engagement, organisations must invest in innovative training sessions.
Here are some ways an organisation can ‘spice up’ training sessions:
Leverage the Power of Alternate Realities
The emergence of AI has led to the rapid adoption of those technologies in corporate and eLearning environments. Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), collectively known as immersive technologies, enable organisations to create accurate multidimensional simulations for trainees to experience and interact with. Walmart used immersive technologies to train more than one hundred thousand associates on Black-Friday sales.
In an escape room, a team has to work together to solve a puzzle or complete certain activities to ‘escape’ the locked enclosure. This physical adventure game gives trainees a break from their workstations. Such intense 60-minute sessions also help trainees test out valuable skills such as time management, problem-solving, communication, and team-building.
Gone are the days when employees would read manuals or attend one-month long training sessions to improve their on-the-job performance. These days employees respond better to just-in-time-learning. Microlearning is a learning strategy that places bite-sized information at the right time via videos, simulations, and kinetic-text, etc.
Geofencing goes a step further than microlearning. A geofence is an electronic boundary which can be used as a trigger to push training material to employees as they enter the workplace. For instance, an organisation that has employees who work out in the field, an application can push any regulation updates via a brief training video to their electronic devices.
The training industry is expected to be even more dynamic and fluid in the coming years. To stay relevant, organisations must be open to adopting cutting-edge learning methodologies for their employees.