Improving Workplace Culture Through Web-Based Training And Professional Development

How To Promote Self-Efficacy In The Workplace
Olivier Le Moal/
Summary: Want your eLearning designs to contribute to a positive workplace culture? Consider Instructional Designs that cultivate employee self-efficacy. This article dives into self-efficacy's role in employee performance and provides design tips for enhancing motivation and confidence through eLearning.

Promoting Self-Efficacy Through eLearning

Google is a tech powerhouse that has a reputation for positive workplace culture and was recently crowned with Comparably’s Best Company Culture Award in 2020. You may immediately think that Google’s generous amount of paid vacation time and their pet-friendly office environments are what launched them to the top spot (although I am sure these perks certainly did not hurt). However, it is no coincidence that Google has also made Comparably’s top 20 list for Best Companies for Professional Development in 2020. Google boasts a work environment that invests in its employees by providing copious opportunities for personal and professional development. So how can companies use these learning programs to enhance their workplace culture?

Research has shown that positive workplace culture can be cultivated when employees find meaning and inspiration in their work, as well as feel supported by their organization (Cameron et al., 2020). Google’s strong belief in the ongoing Learning and Development of its employees is an excellent demonstration of how investing in employee self-efficacy can support a positive working environment.

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Self-efficacy is the perceived belief in one’s capabilities to complete tasks with proficiency. Self-efficacy impacts how people think and behave. It contributes to their confidence and motivation, as well as how individuals perform and engage in activities. Employees with higher levels of self-efficacy can demonstrate a variety of positive characteristics and behaviors. Within the workplace, they are more likely to:

  • Produce higher levels of effort because they believe in their own competence and capabilities
  • Display perseverance and resilience when faced with a difficult task or setback
  • Demonstrate self-aiding thought patterns, attributing their success to their own efforts and actions—not luck, misfortune, or circumstance
  • Set high professional goals for themselves because they are intrinsically motivated
  • Respond positively to constructive feedback

However, individuals who are less self-efficacious demonstrate the opposite of these characteristics and behaviors. They often dwell on their perceived failures or setbacks, give up quickly in adverse situations, set lower levels of aspirations for themselves, and have less confidence in their ability to complete tasks with proficiency. Lower levels of self-efficacy can lead to stress and anxiety in individuals, which can have negative implications for their physical and psychological well-being.

The correlation between self-efficacy and stress can also have a systemic impact on organizations. Grokker Innovation Labs recently conducted a Working Americans State of Stress Report which revealed that 76% of Americans described themselves as being stressed. Stress in the workplace can have negative implications on an individual's physical and mental health, impacting employee performance as well as retention. These implications on employee and organization health truly evidence a call-to-action in regard to how companies use professional learning to support employee self-efficacy.

How To Promote Self-Efficacy In The Workplace

Some companies may still contest that the development of self-efficacy in employees is not their responsibility. These companies may feel that if they recruit and hire candidates that exhibit these characteristics within the hiring process, then those individuals will be able to thrive within their organization. However, the development of self-efficacy is an ongoing process that can be positively or negatively affected by a variety of factors that employers should not overlook. Albert Bandura, a prominent figure in the field of self-efficacy, found that that self-efficacy can be cultivated by the following sources:

  • Past experiences: previous successes and failures
  • Vicarious experiences: observing how others similar to themselves perform with success or failure
  • Verbal persuasion: the use of words for feedback purposes
  • Physiological cues: the body’s physical response to a scenario (relaxed posture, racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, etc.)

eLearning Design Recommendations For Enhancing Self-Efficacy

Instructional Designers of training and professional development programs should refer back to these sources when creating learning opportunities that support self-efficacious thinking and behavior in employees. So how should Instructional Designers approach this task? Instructional Designers should start by examining the sources of self-efficacy and how they can be used to shape their own design framework. Self-efficacy should be considered within the Instructional Design process, just as culture and inclusivity are. There are a variety of effective Instructional Design models, learning strategies, and implementation practices that can be used to cultivate self-efficacy in online learning environments. Below are some recommendations to consider.

1. Examine The Strengths And Professional Goals Of Employees

Use a needs assessment to not only identify gaps in knowledge and skills, but to examine the professional strengths and goals of employees who will be attending training. This information will help identify ways to make training more relevant by building on to their previous skills, as well connecting to their short- and long-term career goals.

2. Design Instruction That Includes Opportunities For Modeling, Guided Mastery, And Feedback

Training and professional development is essential for learning new skills and knowledge. However, these programs can also be an excellent way to motivate employees and develop their confidence. This is why it is critical to create training materials that are relevant to employees, as well as engaging.

Consider an Instructional Design model that provides opportunities for modeling, guided mastery (opportunity to practice new skills), and feedback. John Keller’s ARCS Model and M. David Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction are two examples.

  • Keller's ARCS Model emphasizes the use of motivational strategies that support attention, relevance, confidence, and satisfaction in learners.
  • Merrill’s First Principles of Instruction encourages problem-based learning. This model provides opportunities for learners to activate prior skills and knowledge, view demonstrations of new information through relevant modeling, apply new skills through practice, and integrate new knowledge into their own work.

3. Select eLearning Technology Based On How It Affords The Learning Tasks You Have Designed

Training programs should be developed based on the instructional need, not based on how “groundbreaking” or “innovative” eLearning technology appears to be. Integrate technologies with affordances that support the instructional needs of the professional development course. Consider asking the following: Does this technology have affordances that support opportunities for modeling and demonstration, guided practice and problem solving, and constructive feedback? Use this question as a means for selecting and integrating technology that will positively serve instruction.

4. Collaborate With Leadership To Brainstorm Ways That Support Employee Self-Efficacy Before And After Training

Although training and professional development are excellent tools to engage employees in learning opportunities that will enhance their self-efficacy, it is not something that should be deployed in isolation. Collaborate with managers, supervisors, or other leaders who have regular interaction with employees to develop a self-efficacy support plan. Some examples could include:

  • Encourage leadership to discuss how attending training will be helpful to employee professional growth before they participate in professional development.
  • Collaborate with supervising staff to develop a plan to provide continuous feedback regarding newly taught skills and knowledge covered in professional development.


The world is overwhelmed with the current events that are happening outside of the walls of the office, so let’s make positive workplace culture a priority. Everyone could benefit from a little less stress, a bit more confidence, and the motivation to be our best self at work. So let’s take some advice from Google and give self-efficacy development a chance. When organizations start integrating initiatives that positively impact self-efficacy in learning development programs, everyone wins.