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Relevant and Impactful Learning Experiences that Resonate

19 Sep


Thanks to our Gen Z friends, the standard five-year post-collegiate plan has changed to a two-year plan. The primary contributing factor is an economy lacking a supportive job market where both the “dream job” and “entry-level job” can exist simultaneously. Job seekers and employees are left wondering if their investment in education was worth it. In many cases, people rely on the development and skills their employer provides and promotes. This strategy becomes the reason for a person’s success in their current job, not their expensive education. However, we believe that a middle ground does exist.

With that happy medium in mind, we are left wondering what employers can do to help their employees prioritize their personal and professional development plans without making sacrifices they weren’t prepared for. 

To do this, we need to understand a few key things. Employees want to:  

  • Feel cared for and feel supported.
  • Have their time respected.
  • Emphasize the importance of a strong onboarding. 
  • Get involved in employee-focused programs that reignite passion in each stage of the career journey.
  • See a road map of what they need to learn to do their job successfully.
  • Employees require challenges to help them develop and grow.
  • Encourage employees to lean into new skills.
  • Refresh your toolkit! Keeping the same toolkit throughout an employee’s career restricts both the employee and company growth.  

Take it a step further by creating a strong workplace learning experience by focusing on a few areas: 

  • A low-stakes environment allows employees to feel like they can fail, make mistakes, and safely try new things. Here, employees know their mistakes that will not hurt the business, reputation, or future. 
  • Provide frequent feedback and offer support in the moment. Start by sharing one skill you believe an employee could improve upon based on performance-related observations, and provide your suggestions and support in growing this skill. 
  • Celebrate wins of all sizes. Simple efforts of recognition and praise go a long way. Do you remember instances where a small, kind gesture set you on the right path for a day or a week?
  • Make relevant material and tools available and accessible. Timely use of resources for employees to choose from is critical for learning to stick and for positive outcomes to be realized. If employees are given training but cannot put that learning into practice, they will forget what they learned. Think of any time you’ve looked through an owner’s manual. Where was that knowledge when the machine or tool broke down? Don’t wait for there to be a problem before your employee taps into their reservoir of newfound knowledge!
  • Organize your learning programs so they are easy to find, have varied learning methods, and are controlled in a one-stop shop to avoid confusion and control brand and company culture messaging. 

Employees all have varied motivations, but progressing their careers should be at the forefront of your mind as a manager. While the job they are in today may not be their dream job, there may be elements of their professional life that will carry through to their next role or to their direct reports. Keep the shortened timeframe of a two-year plan at the top of your list rather than assuming the employee is navigating a formerly traditional five-year plan. 

Additionally, while several options exist to approach learning and development: activities, programs, initiatives, and frameworks, each industry is different, and each function within that organization has a variety of priorities. Concentrate on designing a custom career growth plan and program while enabling a learning-focused culture that supports your organizational goals and business objectives. 

James Yarley, VP of Curriculum and Content Development

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