Helping Overloaded Employees Stay Focused on Learning

Optimized-overloadedThe average worker is just plain busy. More than two-thirds of business leaders say that overwhelmed employees are a top challenge. I could cite more statistics, but we all recognize that it’s common for today’s employees to feel overloaded—with work, with information, with work-life balance, with many aspects of working and living.

When it comes to designing eLearning programs for the workplace, courses which further overwhelm people are not helping anyone. Below are strategies to streamline the content in eLearning programs to keep learners focus on learning.

Keep it Relevant, Keep it Focused

Adults want to solve relevant problems by planning learning, according to Malcolm Knowles, pioneer in the field of adult learning theories. In this case, “relevant learning” means learning that is related to the learner’s current job/task, or the tasks required for the role that they aspire to have next. Keep the content of each eLearning module task-focused, and include references for all “extra” material in the footnotes or training epilogue.

With eLearning, you don’t have to smash in all content that might be remotely relevant, as live training facilitators are often tempted to do during one- or multi-day workshops. Chop the content into short, independent modules (microlearning). Modules with micro-content are more likely to be relevant, as content is very focused. Therefore, learners are more likely to complete each module and even complete more modules than previously planned. (Think of chapters in books—aren’t you much more likely to read “just one more chapter” if you know that that next chapter is short?)

Break it Up with Conversation

Who says eLearning is synonymous with one-way communication—computer to human? Design multi-way interactions in eLearning through collaboration, communication and conversation. When people communicate with others during learning, engagement increases and the tendency to succumb to distractions decreases.

Every employee is a resource for knowledge sharing and community-building. Book “guest speakers” in eLearning. Find ways to integrate people in leadership, subject matter experts, partners and customers in the eLearning program. Be creative in involving your employees, your extended workforce and your customers in the learning conversation. Find ways for learners to talk, share and debate. You’ll help your organization develop its own, unique culture of learning.

Mix it Up

Should training be online? Or face-to-face? With the innovative digital learning technologies released every day, you can use an LMS to blend online and live training into a compelling, overarching program.

But why stop there? Incorporate discussions and daily stand ups by phone, virtual conferencing, or social networking. Encourage field trips—virtual or in person—to get a better feel for the work that needs to be done and the context in which it needs to be accomplished. Think about mobile learning, performance support and microlearning. Use video, audio and “sketchnoting” to enhance engagement and creativity. In short, blended learning is essentially a mix of multiple learning methods and tactics combined to create a cohesive—and hyper-engaging—learning program.

Give Learners What They Really Want

We’re all extremely busy, constantly multi-tasking and rearranging priorities. Many of us rightly feel overwhelmed and overloaded. But if corporate learning is important to your organization, why overwhelm and overload your learners during training, too? Design learning programs which allow people to fit learning into their busy schedules and is engaging enough to keep them focused during training.

When it comes to the eLearning programs you offer your employees, how do you keep it relevant, keep it focused, break it up and mix it up?

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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