Investment in training and development is a top priority. Employees want to feel valued and empowered to develop their skills and capability. Employers invest in development to gain improved performance and organisational effectiveness. Such investment also benefits the ‘employer brand’, helping attract the best candidates. It’s a win-win situation. The problem though is how employees are trained and developed.

Employees typically request greater investment in formal training. But it is more cost-effective and relevant for companies to focus on experiential, on-the-job learning. This issue has come up repeatedly at our roundtable events and is something many companies are tackling. But which approach is right?

We argue that experiential learning is best. And research backs this up. The 70-20-10 learning principle shows that learning on the job tends to be most effective in developing employees. It also offers obvious benefits from an organisation’s perspective, in terms of working capacity. But how do we get employees to see that this is best approach?

Highlight the advantages of experiential learning over formal training:

·         It has been shown to be more effective

·         It will give them the critical experiences and credibility needed for a future senior role  

·         It can give natural opportunities for networking through projects or working groups

·         It can be tailored to the individual based on their goals, strengths, and past experiences

Experiential learning, by definition, has greater relevance and application to the workplace. A major problem with formal courses is the limited transfer of learning.

To motivate employees, companies should start by initiating open, one-to-one conversations to understand what skills they are most keen to develop.

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