L&D Strategies For Overwhelmed Employees
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The Overwhelmed Employee

Today, the concept of work-life balance is getting lost. With the line between when the work ends and personal time begins blurred, the overwhelmed employee is now visible across all industry verticals. After the widespread usage of smartphones and the ubiquitous internet, there appear to be no barriers between work and home anymore. Furthermore, with increasing globalization, employees run home from a packed workday at the office only to take the last call or clear a few emails from colleagues in another time zone from home.

Although these overwhelmed employees would love to put in fewer hours than they usually do, the fact remains that a large percentage of the workforce is putting in close to 50 hours per week. During the workday, there are distractions of incoming emails, messages, plus scheduled con calls or meetings. As a result, the uninterrupted window of time shrinks further and further. If these dynamics are part and parcel of the employees’ workday—which often stretches to personal time as well—how can the L&D team get to engage them and ensure that they invest the requisite time in training?

Impact On L&D Initiatives

This is a big challenge for L&D teams as overwhelmed employees equal with low engagement and low motivation to invest time in training. While the average employee puts in their best and commits to making a difference at work, they are distracted and find it difficult to concentrate on aspects that make a difference to their performance as well as career progression—this includes investing time in training and other avenues for growth.

Being "wired" all the time eventually takes a toll on creativity and also impacts productivity and performance. It takes the joy away from their accomplishments. As a result, overwhelmed employees are unlikely to realize their full potential, even though they are working longer hours.

So, how can this be remedied? The answer lies in adopting an approach to deliver training that syncs up better with the learners’ workday and lifestyle. In this article, I share a few L&D strategies that would help you train overwhelmed employees.

Despite The Tough Schedules And Ongoing Distractions, What Would Excite The Learners And Motivate Them To Carve Out And Invest Time In Training?

Overwhelmed employees want to improve their situation, too. However, they will invest time in learning if it is aligned with their lifestyle and is available within their workflow. Only then will they be motivated to carve out time for training.

Before you draw up an L&D strategy to engage your overwhelmed employees, do take a look at what the employees want and how they want to learn.

  • Learners want training to be as seamless and easy to access as Google or Amazon or Netflix. Each learning experience should lead them up to the next, plus it should give them recommendations.
    o  They want to get the right learning resources quickly, easily, and on-demand.
    o  They want access to the learning content and resources on the go, on their devices, and they do not want to log in to the LMS every time they have a need.
    o  Additionally, they want meaningful recommendations that keep them connected and encourage them to come back for more.
  • They understand the value of "continuous learning" and expect the L&D teams to provide this environment in the workplace.
  • The content should be searchable, it must be packaged to address specific needs and trigger the desired action.
  • They need the learning journeys to match their career progression goals, and they should move up from "learning pathways" to specific "career pathways."

How Can L&D Teams Change Their Current Approach To Meet This Expectation?

Given the fact that modern learners’ expectations reflect the "new normal," L&D teams need to rise to this challenge. Clearly, they need to move away from the prescriptive "push" based training delivery to "pull" based learning experiences.

What L&D Strategies Would Help Engage The Overwhelmed Employees?

At EI Design, we work with several customers to offer learning that aligns better with the learners’ expectations. It is short, focused, and personalized and enables employees to consume this either at the moment of need or during breaks.

I am sharing a list of L&D strategies that have helped us achieve this mandate:

  1. Add microlearning nuggets that precede the online training and encourage, motivate, and engage the learners. These could include teasers, highlighting the value for each learner and how it will help them do their tasks better, upskill or fix an identified gap.
  2. Provide a judicious mix of macrolearning and microlearning. Additionally, offer flexibility to consume the training on the go and on the device of their choice.
  3. Leverage learning design formats that resonate well with modern learners. These could include microlearning, video-based learning, apps for learning, and so on.
  4. Invest in strategies that engage and create more immersive learning experiences—notably, gamification, branching scenarios, AR/VR, and so on.
  5. Invest in instant or Just-In-Time learning aids (performance support tools) that are available in the learners’ workflow and easily accessible when they need them.
  6. Supplement the primary training with microlearning challenges (assessments) that facilitate learning retention and are based on the learners’ scores, nudging them to review the primary training collateral.
  7. Have practice zones or avenues to facilitate the application of the acquired learning.
  8. Provide room to practice and offer learning paths that help learners gain higher proficiency.
  9. Provide flexibility for learners to create personalized learning paths.
  10. Enrich learning by providing recommendations—based on the pattern of learning or the learners’ interest—and push self-directed learning.

Additionally, here are some tips that will help you sustain this momentum:

  • Limit prescribing. Instead, allow higher control to the learners. Essentially, nudge them toward the required path but don’t push!
  • Make content available on-demand and easy to search and locate.
  • Encourage participation by opting for techniques like content curation and crowd-sourced assets—these could include videos/links to public domain resources.
  • Recognize employees who align with the mandate and highlight their contribution to public forums.
  • Leverage learner analytics to assess what the learners’ consumption pattern shows and make further tweaks that can meet the mandate more effectively.

I hope this article provides ideas, techniques, and L&D strategies that will help you engage your overwhelmed employees and meet your mandate.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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