Steve Hemsley from Media Planet – Business and Industry, interviewed me last week and below is his great article.
Is active learning the answer to employee boredom?
FUTURE OF WORK How do you liven up meetings and training sessions? Employee engagement expert Georgie Mann, says the answer is to get staff more involved.
Mann says active learning is still a relatively new concept for many organisations so companies should follow these simple tips:
Discuss actions with employees and agree on three things they should start doing and three things they should stop doing
Ensure people work in groups as this is more anonymous and people are more truthful. Don’t make employee engagement a one-off but have follow-up events to see how behaviour has changed
Make it fun – Finding ways to ease employee boredom in traditional meetings and training sessions dominated by lectures and PowerPoint presentations has always been a challenge.One solution is to use active learning techniques where employees participate rather than listen passively.Organisations are introducing gamification such as quizzes and team building exercises to engage staff and improve problem solving in the workplace.
Active learning can also improve employee motivation and productivity because workers are collaborating in a positive way. Employees are more likely to retain information from this type of immersive and experiential learning which is designed to reinforce corporate messages and help companies meet their business objectives.It also takes into account people’s different learning styles.
Often active learning is used for only part of a training session with the rest of the time taken up by more conventional presentations and theory. “Meetings and training sessions should be interactive so the audience feels more involved,” says Georgie Mann, director at employee engagement consultancy Green Hat People.
“We remember only about 10% of a PowerPoint Presentation and that 10% often differs between individuals. We all have cognitive filters that trick our mind into changing what we hear to something that suits our current beliefs.”
She adds that active learning and healthy discussions among peers helps employees to relate more to what is being communicated so they understand how the information is relevant to them and their roles at work.
Active learning techniques are also boosting the effectiveness of internal presentations with the audience given questions beforehand so they can listen out for the answers and be more engaged. The audience is then tested afterwards on what they have heard.
These ideas are also being used to help employees settle in to new office buildings. For example, staff are put into teams and have missions to complete on different floors and in specific rooms.
The adoption of active learning could also increase as more organisations introduce activity based working and design workplaces around the specific tasks taking place.
The role of technology
Active learning sessions are increasingly technology-led and Mann says gamification works particularly well to engage employees as it brings out a worker’s natural competitiveness, their need to achieve something and a wish to feel recognised for their actions and efforts.
“Technology, such as mobile apps or using a tablet, helps to convey messages to the older generation, while for younger employees it is natural for them to be communicated with using technology.” She adds: “If people have a tablet device in a training session they tend to do what it tells them to do. In the Green Hat Challenge, for example, teams of five people complete missions and use tablets to obtain instructions and take pictures.”
Tablets and web apps are a popular way to bring active learning into sales training using quizzes and other games.
The activities assess how the sales team is working now and what needs to change to improve the customer experience and boost sales conversions. Case studies and real life dilemmas are discussed in groups to ensure members of the sales team are acting in accordance with the organisation’s sales strategy.
Data is collected throughout the game and used to provide feedback and to share best practice. “People respond to healthy competition and real-time feedback,” says Mann.
Data and rewards
The characteristics that employees display during immersive learning challenges, such as quick decision making and leadership skills, provide valuable insight for line managers and the HR team.
Leaderboards can be created and staff rewarded when they reach different levels. They move up the levels by achieving certain goals and demonstrate they have improved their understanding of the issues being covered. For example, the learning could be focused on how the organisation wants to improve its customer service.
Valuable data is collected from active learning workshops, and when sessions are held with employees based in different locations information is gathered and analysed to reveal gaps in knowledge at a local level so that further training can be arranged.
The insight can reveal, for example, whether the introduction of a new process or company-wide policy has been more or less of a success at a particular office or factory.
When it comes to a company’s core values, immersive learning provides feedback on how well the beliefs are understood by the workforce and if they need tweaking.
Active learning techniques are also being adopted when companies merge. There can be two sets of competing values when a deal is done, so an active learning session involving group discussions and team building can lead to an agreement over what a new single set of values should look like.
When TeliaSonera Norway was integrating a number of telecoms companies it had acquired it brought staff together for a big event in Oslo. It needed employees who were previously at different companies to understand the new strategy and values. Teams of five played a game based on its values of Dare, Care and Simplify using case studies and measurable questions.
Active learning is a group activity and peer to peer learning allows clusters of employees to discuss real-life topics, disagree over the solutions, share ideas and solve corporate challenges. Every learner is involved in doing something and is encouraged to think about what they are being asked to do and why.
“Every individual should be active in a meeting or training session and this can be achieved through breakout sessions and vivid group discussions. That is what drives real engagement,” says Mann. “It can be a real challenge for employers to get staff to participate when it comes to meetings in particular, but using gamification and interactive tools gets everyone involved.”
Return on investment
Measuring the value of any training technique can be tricky but Mann cites one example where a construction company introduced active learning in a bid to reduce sickness levels.
A mobile app was developed which people used to log their fitness levels and take part in weekly fitness challenges. Over time, a health and safety element was added and staff began noting safety concerns across its 15 construction sites. The result was a 40% reduction in the number of accidents.
Green Hat People design active meetings, workshops and business games to ensure groups are involved, discussions are encouraged, communication is crystal clear and feedback is captured. Our content ensures higher engagement levels and our platform enables us to build mobile apps, used on smartphones, laptops and tablets to turn meeting participants into active contributors at events.