Learning Vs. Training In The Workplace: What Are The Differences?

Learning Vs. Training In The Workplace: What Are The Differences?
Summary: Learning is what sets Fortune 500 companies apart. Read almost any article from Fortune magazine, and you will see a reference to the value and importance that Fortune 500 companies put on learning; notice! I did not say 'training'. There is a vital difference.

Comparing Learning Vs. Training In The Workplace

Learning is a key component of successful organizations' strategic plans. To remain relevant and viable, organizations need to be agile in a day when the workplace is changing rapidly. To be agile, your employees need to learn.

Training is a part of learning and typically happens for compliance purposes, or when a new initiative is launched. It is not a part of what employees do every day. Valuable time away from work is spent on training. To make it worth the investment, the learning gained during training needs to be transferred to the workplace.

In the future, training will not be enough. To be agile and responsive to the rapid changes in the workplace, people need to learn every day—and that learning needs to align with business goals. Training will still need to be part of the strategy but learning will be the core tenant of success.

As learning professionals, to stay relevant, we need to make sure that we are building learning experiences that are a part of what the employee does every day. How, might you ask, do we structure informal or ad-hoc learning and align it with business goals. 

There is a lot involved in making that happen, but we will break it down into 3 vital areas.

A successful model includes:

  1. Learning ecosystem audit.
    Conduct a learning ecosystem audit where you evaluate the technology currently in use at your organization to host and develop learning. Review the pedagogy employed to distribute learning, and ensure they align and that all learning distribution is fully supported.
  2. Create a culture of learning.
    To create a culture of learning, you will need to explore your company culture from both a personal and team dynamic perspective along with a technology perspective to ensure they align and that the organization can support engaging learning.
  3. Create meaningful and engaging content.
    Ensure that the content you are building and facilitating is engaging and effective. Evaluate it and make adjustments where necessary.

By conducting an inventory of all your learning tools you can then find ways to make them more accessible, context-sensitive and relevant. Ratings can be employed to ensure that the information high-performing employees use to move the company forward is shared with others.

Oftentimes, I work with organizations that want to create effective learning and get the typical response when we propose using tools or technology that is unfamiliar or not understood in the culture.

For Example

A large Healthcare Organization, that we will call HCO, gave me the opportunity to create something special, and I wanted to do it right. They loved all my ideas, which is typical for the proposal stage. Once we started implementing the course, it became apparent that a critical element was being overlooked.

Here is what happened.

As we began building a dream course, HCO and I both realized the great ideas were going to be hard to implement.

  • "We can’t use this discussion board. Our culture doesn’t support it. Our employees don't have time for that".
  • "We can’t use this evaluation survey. Our culture won't support it. We don't spam our employees' inboxes".
  • "We can’t use these engaging activities. Our culture doesn’t support it. Our LMS has limited functionality".

Creating effective learning involves more than simply creating good training. If the company culture does not support it, it will not get used. Oftentimes, we change our courses, rather than the culture. Changing culture is hard, but certainly not impossible and not as hard as one may think. We will explore that in more detail in later articles.

There are many courses available to teach you how to build better content, and I encourage you to explore them in more detail. Once you have the tools and technology aligned with your learning pedagogy and business goals, the content part is pretty easy. But more than easy, you will have what you need to create SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accessible, Responsive, Technology-Based) learning for business success.

You will not be hamstrung by a culture or learning ecosystem that does not support great learning while you make a major contribution to the overall success of your organization.