Some organisations have an amazing education department, a wonderful new LMS, plenty of online content, an array of free inservice throughout the year, plenty of opportunities for development, and yet… employees aren’t complying with their professional development goals, or are showing no improvement in their quality indicators. Why is this? And is it even possible to fix it?
Don’t panic – this is not irreparable. In fact, it’s a great opportunity for you to fine-tune your education offering and get to know your staff better. It’s important to understand why this hesitancy towards learning is unsustainable and why you should commit to the solutions offered in this article.
What is the actual value of learning?
Since you’re reading this, it’s fair to assume you already know that learning improves the care your employees can offer to your healthcare consumers. But it’s important to go deeper and find out the tangible effects of staff completing mandatory training and professional development.
Increased professional opportunities
Healthcare workers and professionals who provide superior care to their patients and deliver better quality indicators for your organisation do so due to continued professional development and learning. Not only does this benefit the organisation, but it also opens longer-term doors for those employees professionally. Whether they want to move upward in their area, move laterally to a separate section of the organisation or just secure better results for the customers under their care, employees that partake in learning will actively and rapidly move towards those goals.
Employees gain a larger network of colleagues
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare conferences, seminars and events have been giving healthcare workers and professionals the opportunity to create broad networks of likeminded peers. These networks can create inter-professional bonds that are great for swapping information, learning resources, professional accomplishments and mentoring.
Bottom line improvements
Continuous learning puts your organisation in a far better position, and not just by making your staff better at their jobs. Professional learning and development programs are proven to make staff members on any level of the organisation more productive, stay with the organisation for a longer period of their career, and become more resilient and adaptive in the face of business pivoting and team changes.
How do you communicate the value of learning to your employees?
A large part of how easy it is to communicate the value of learning will be built on a single element – your own excitement about the learning program. Show your genuine interest in the learning opportunities offered and the opportunities available to your staff. Make it clear that you want to see them grow and increase their career potential.
Make time to meet with team leaders
According to Donna Wright’s Competency Identification Model, team managers should be knowledgeable about the learning needs – and knowledge gaps – present within their team. With this in mind, organisation executives and department leaders should have an open and honest relationship with the employees on the floor. A team manager can be the most efficient way for you to stay in touch with those who are working with your customers every day, and also a great resource for feedback on the type of learning offered.
Team managers will know – or are able to find out – whether their colleagues are doing learning at work or at home, whether they’re enjoying the platforms and content offered, and whether they have feedback for you.
It’s incredibly valuable to have an effective feedback loop in place, where employees (or their representative managers) can convey their thoughts and ideas about the professional development offered to them. If you don’t have an effective feedback loop, you are hitting golf balls into the dark: is your swing sending it in the right direction? Who knows.
Share your excitement!
Honestly, just get excited. It’s a simple way to contribute to a learning-positive culture in your organisation. All employees, and particularly leaders, have a great opportunity to be role models for positive learning attitudes. Help everyone move far away from the common ‘mandatory training is something we have to get through’ mindset, and step into a ‘this is such a great opportunity to refine my skills and see how far I can go’ mindset.
How can you help sustain your employees' interest in learning and professional development?
All of this groundwork – identifying the value of learning within your organisation and figuring out how to communicate that value to your employees – is wasted without the proper preparation and aftercare of your learning systems. By ‘learning systems’, we mean both the LMS that hosts your learning resources and also the effectiveness of your employees' approaches toward their learning.
Identify learning templates and theories for employees to use
There are hundreds of learning theories floating around the internet, and some are more tried and tested than others. Ausmed has purveyed psychology and educational journals in order to provide the most accurate, efficient and effective learning theories to learners in the healthcare industry. Read through our selection of learning theories, techniques and templates, and consider what would work best for you and your employees:
Make it as easy as possible for employees to access learning
There is nothing less enticing than learning that is only accessible on a certain device, in a certain location. For example, hospitals whose LMS is only available through ward computers are putting their employees at a massive disadvantage. Employees of other organisations who are able to access learning through their phones are leaping ahead in terms of best practice and professional/career development.
The simplest thing you can do is make sure your LMS is optimised for use via smartphones. With few exceptions, everyone has a smartphone; it’s cutting edge and almost always in your pocket. If your employee is sitting in the break room and doesn’t feel like scrolling through social media for twenty minutes, give them the option to scroll through learning opportunities instead.
Another great way to make things easier is to only use an LMS if it has a dedicated customer service team. Most organisations only have one director of education, and a small team (if any) supporting that role. This makes it incredibly hard to foster those essential feedback loops mentioned earlier as well as troubleshooting any issues an employee has when using the LMS. In this sense, it’s integral for your employees' support – and your own time management – to have a customer service team available to help employees navigate the software while you optimise the learning program. Ausmed often receives feedback from organisation managers and directors of education explaining how much of a difference our dedicated Customer Experience team have made to the uptake and retention of active learning in their organisation.
Using these optimisation and support techniques will help you create an active and enthusiastic culture surrounding learning within your organisation. The effective uptake of education is entirely beneficial for every single aspect of healthcare services and organisations: employees, patients, managers and stakeholders all move closer to achieving their health and business goals when employees professionally develop.