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Why Self-Directed Learning Is a Catalyst for Improving Employee Training Results

Man using computer for self-directed learning

Many employees have a negative attitude toward corporate training these days because it connotes taking lengthy courses that aren’t engaging and often aren’t relevant to the job at hand, therefore don’t result in new and valuable skills being learned.

When a company spends a lot of time and money investing in a training program, it’s tempting to stick with that program for years to come, even if it isn’t adapting to learners’ needs or proving effective anymore. This is why many organizations are behind when it comes to moving toward an employee-centric, self-directed learning strategy.

If training is focused on fulfilling the company’s needs, but fails to address the priorities of its employees, the program quickly loses ROI and employee development stalls.

That’s a place no company wants to be – without employees learning what it takes to do their jobs well now (and in the future!), business growth will become a remnant of the past.

A Self-Directed Learning Strategy Benefits Business in Big Ways

Engaging employees in training is a necessity to build a business that is agile, ready for change at the drop of a hat, and competitive in the market.

Providing training that yields those results requires adapting to the changing needs of the workforce, and creating a culture where self-directed learning happens every day.

If your company is struggling to build this kind of culture, where training and development are a top priority when it comes to budgeting money, time, and resources, then it’s probably true that you’re also struggling with engaging employees in the ways that they value most.

Giving employees ongoing opportunities to direct their own learning and development is the best way to build a team that is talented, smart, productive, and forward-thinking.

When you incorporate self-paced learning into your training program, employees can improve in their roles much faster than if they wait for someone else to tell them what to learn and when.

This allows your employees to develop their own skills and improve their personal performance, which creates better team performance, and improves results for the organization as a whole.

Many of your top performers are probably doing this already – a self-directed learning strategy is how you bottle their initiative and distribute it to your entire workforce.

What Is Self-Directed Learning and Why Is It Effective?

Self-directed learning happens when people decide on their own what to learn and when. They seek out tools and resources to help them build knowledge and/or skills – for employees, this initiative is a highly valuable trait, both for the individual’s career and the organization.

So why is self-directed learning so effective?

Your employees don’t fit a particular mold when you take into account all of their previous education, work history, and life experiences. The training they need for their specific job role and for professional development will be most effective when it falls in line with their individual knowledge and experience.

More and more organizations are able to offer curated, self-paced learning opportunities, thanks to libraries of content that address the many skills employees need on the job, no matter what industry they’re in.

Video content libraries with advanced filtering options give individuals the opportunity to find specific content that teaches a skill they need at that exact moment, or to find a topic that could help them improve professionally overall.

Time has always been a precious resource, but even when training is a high priority, it can be a struggle for employees to make time for learning each day, let alone each week or month.

That’s why microlearning is becoming more and more popular as a training method – providing short videos (less than 10 minutes) allows skill-building to happen on a regular basis, rather than being relegated to only a classroom setting, or when large chunks of time can be set aside for training.

With career development being a top priority in the eyes of your team, and considering the vast array of benefits it brings to the company, it’s in everyone’s best interest to promote self-directed learning through a curated content library.

Adapting Training Technology to Satisfy Modern Learning Needs

An important component of a high-quality video content library is how well it adapts to the changing needs of modern learners, giving them more control over their own learning pathways, while helping training administrators to provide more personalized development.

The emerging technology in adaptive learning is setting out to improve the efficiency of training by keeping employees focused on learning what they don’t already know. Algorithms that record course completions and answers to questions can set learners on a fast track to building their chosen skills, and understanding how they relate to other skills that would be useful for them.

This technology can continually adapt the training to create the more learner-centric approach that is desperately needed in today’s employee training programs.

Learning experience platforms (LXPs) were born out of this need for adaptive, self-paced learning for employees, and while many people see them as the solution to an outdated LMS, make sure to carefully evaluate an LXP to determine if it’ll work for the organization as a whole. Some LXPs lack the administrative and reporting features necessary for mandatory training, so you’ll want to look for a platform that can deliver the best of an LXP and an LMS.

Tracking the skills people already have and then providing learning opportunities that are tailored to improving those skills allows employees to become experts in their field much faster than traditional, classroom-based training. That customization will not only make training less time-consuming, but it’ll make it more engaging when an individual is constantly challenged to learn the skills relevant to their job now, and where their career is headed in the future.

Here are some questions to consider as you determine how to improve your employee training results:

1. Is your organization actively encouraging a self-directed learning mindset in all employees?

2. Have you adapted to the need for training in the moment through microlearning?

3. Is your learning technology provider continually evolving their solutions to meet needs for both administrators and learners?

These are the kinds of questions that will help your organization stay ahead of the training curve, which translates to a higher-performing workforce and a more agile business.

Learn how to make self-directed learning a major player in improving training results with our comprehensive guide to on-demand learning solutions:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Krista researches, analyzes, and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at the industry shifts and trends that matter to L&D and HR professionals, and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.