What workplace learning is and isn’t

Workplace learning is the umbrella term for the many ways companies provide their employees with learning and development opportunities, such as coaching, workshops, consulting, training, etc. Workplace learning occurs through several ways, through classrooms, e-Learning, blended learning, face-to-face tutorials, and the like.

Today, workplace learning doesn’t necessarily mean that employees attend training sessions in classrooms. Training has evolved from traditional settings to a more flexible type of learning, mostly due to the changing needs of learners and the influence of technology. Now, workplace learning is made even more flexible and accessible by blended learning and mobile learning solutions.


Brief history

Classroom setting

The earliest stages of workplace learning occurred in a classroom setting, where employees were required to attend classes and experience learning with their colleagues. While this model is used to this day, it has its limitations. First of all, it requires employees to take time away from their jobs in order to learn. This doesn’t take into account the fact that not all employees have the same learning capacity, which is why some may easily grasp the learning material, while some lag behind.



eLearning has been around for longer than most assume. In fact, the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies reports that eLearning dates back to the 1980s, when multimedia materials were used to aid in workplace learning and training. The growth of eLearning use in corporate settings was boosted by the establishment of the Internet in the early noughties. This enabled employees to have their training online, anytime and anywhere, as long as they were connected to the Internet. This also saved a lot of time and money for both employees and their organizations.


Blended learning

Complete eLearning may have worked for numerous companies globally, but there was still a need for workplace learning and training that combined the benefits of both face to face learning and eLearning. That’s when blended learning was conceived. With blended learning, employees get the benefits of having a trainer to engage with, and self-study for when they do not require a trainer to teach them the material.


How workplace learning benefits employees and empowers human capital

The report published by The Conference Board titled “Turning Skills into Profit: Economic Benefits of Workplace Education Programs” outlines the economic benefits that come out of improved skills from workplace learning. According to the report, there are several direct and indirect benefits to enabling employees to train through workplace learning. Such include:


Workplace learning improves employees’ quality of work.

When language skills are improved through workplace learning and training, employees are more able to communicate effectively. This does not only mean that employees can communicate messages better, but they can receive them better as well. Improved communication skills allows professionals to understand instructions and help them become more confident in the workplace.


Cuts down error rates.

This ties in closely with the previous point of understanding instructions. Critical roles in an organization require a keen understanding of business processes and the exchange of communication within those processes. When professionals clearly understand instructions and processes, the less likely they are to commit mistakes, which are often linked to unnecessary costs.


Cultivates the capacity to respond to change.

Other implications of skills improved by workplace learning is an improved capability to respond to change. In fact, for those who are undergoing language training to learn English as their second language, such workplace learning encourages them to be more open to change and be more flexible to adapt to it. According to the report, equipping employees with such skills through workplace learning can effectively enable them to respond to such changes faster and with more confidence.


Promotes efficiency among employees.

Allowing employees to become better at what they do through workplace learning helps them become more confident and perform their roles more efficiently. When errors decrease and efficiency increases, the outcome is smoother workflows with no delays, enabling organizations to reach their goals on time.


Promotes better interaction with clients.

Equipping employees with communication and listening skills through workplace learning enables them to be excellent service providers. ING Media managing director Leanne Tritton spoke about how employees who are skilled in languages are impacting the company’s success simply by understanding their client’s culture through language. In addition, professionals who have sharpened their problem-solving and communication skills through workplace learning are often the ones who are more able to address their clients’ needs in a timely manner. Looking at the bigger picture, what seems like small steps actually pave the road for higher rates of customer retention.


Valuable takeaways

Skill gaps no longer present an intimidating problem to solve for global companies because training has become more and more accessible, flexible, and easily deployable for larger companies. Workplace learning has played an integral part in global organization’s success, as it has provided businesses with a more cost-efficient and effective way for training to be made available no matter where in the world.

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