How Should the Learner’s Journey Fit into the Employee Journey?

employee learning journeyI’m really encouraged by the amount of focus and attention leaders are beginning to put on the employee experience. Not the specific role or job deliverables, but the overall well-being and journey that an employee takes with their employer.

Understanding the journey from your employees’ perspective helps provide valuable perspective to encourage retention, loyalty, and even more happiness and fulfillment for the people you make your organization run. We also know that happier, more fulfilled employees deliver experiences that lead to more loyalty and retention from your customers, too.

And yet some organizations are still treating the “learner’s journey” as a unique and distinct path, outside of the context of the broader employee journey.

Here are some ideas to create a cohesive employee experience by connecting learning to your employee’s journey overall.

  1. Understand those key, critical touchpoints.

If learners are told to “complete this training” as part of employee orientation, they most likely will complete that task. But WHY? What is most important about these early learning opportunities for their work? How does it connect to the overall mission and purpose of your organization? How does this learning opportunity connect to the customer experience?

Explaining the why and not just the what helps the learner connect with the overall purpose of your organization AND their purpose within it. And don’t let the why become something they heard about once during orientation. Repeat the why along their journey and whenever they are asked to learn something new.

  1. Apply learning to different channels.

We all learn differently and have various preferences around how we get information. We often discuss channel preference on behalf of customers. If they want to communicate via phone or email, we should welcome that and be prepared to interact with them via their channel of choice. This same idea can also apply to employees.

Some learners will love to interact with others via in-person training sessions. Some will do better with video learning at their pace. While it’s not scalable to say each person will have their own preferred training at every learning opportunity, it’s worth exploring if there are various learning “channels” to help employees along their journey.

For example, if you always have an in-person orientation for your recently hired employees, it might be worthwhile to produce a few short, bite-size videos to reinforce the learning over the first 90 days of employment. Offer ways for learners to provide feedback along the way, both about their learning and their experience as an employee. You might find that the knowledge you want to build in that all-in-one training is better absorbed with this type of reinforcement.

  1. Involve learning in technology and tool rollouts.

In a recent employee experience mapping project, several senior-level employees shared with me how they felt like the future with the organization was daunting. They were loyal and well-versed in the organization. They had valuable internal knowledge and understanding, making them high-performing workers in many ways.

But they were being asked to use tools, technology and even new approaches to communicating that were not intuitive to them. The learning team was not involved with the technology rollouts, so these more experienced workers were left to figure things out on their own. They were simply told there was an “update” and the tool would appear on their computer. As the younger employees took to these tools like fish to water, the senior employees didn’t want to ask for help. They feared it reflected poorly on them.

This organization was risking losing top talent because they weren’t connecting the learning journey with the overall employee experience. A tutorial, gamifying the adoption of the tools, or a buddy system to help get everyone comfortable would go a long way to help! Considering your employee’s journey means acknowledging the various comfort levels that different segments might have.

  1. Consider learning with career development discussions.

Great managers provide a vision for a career path for their team members. Really great managers go above and beyond by connecting learning with this path.

There are so many outstanding learning options now, about everything from managerial skills to forecasting industry trends. Your best employees are often interested in many things, and want to improve wherever they can. Learning shouldn’t be an afterthought or something to tell the worker to worry about on their own. Leaders who can offer learning milestones as part of career development help their staff grow, and the organization benefits!

As you examine your employee experience, look for ways that learning goals are explicitly spelled out. Instead of just considering typical performance goals at employee reviews, what about asking for learning goals, too? It’s not enough to say you allow for two seminars a year. What is the employee expected to learn? How will we know when they’ve learned it? And what should the learner see as the result of those efforts?

  1. Encourage lifelong learning.

Finally, the best organizations encourage their employees to live their whole lives. This means leading book clubs focused on fun fiction, travel seminars, and photography walks! Whatever your employees want to learn about, help them do it.

One of my favorite examples of this was a technology organization who encouraged their employees to get outside at lunch by bringing in experts in their historic neighborhood for walking tours about history, nature, and architecture. Their employees loved it and often reported that the lunchtime walk led to better ideas for the business.

Your employees are learners and your learners are employees. Help your employees get the most out of the learning you offer and your business will gain the benefits.