6 Research-Backed Reasons to Challenge Corporate Learners

6 Research-Backed Reasons to Challenge Corporate Learners
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Why You Should Challenge Corporate Learners
While people report that learning is not that hard, most admit that being a beginner at something can be very difficult, embarrassing, and intimidating – especially when we want to be seen as being competent and confident.  Yet most also admit that not only is learning and career growth critical to their success and engagement, but that they learn best when they are nudged out of their comfort zone.

The Importance of Corporate Learning
With almost $90 billion spent on corporate training in the United States last year, more companies are beginning to take their investments more seriously.  Continuous learning in business has become, according to Harvard Business Review, an “economic imperative.”  The publication claims that 80% of CEOs view the need to develop new skills as their major business challenge.

And we know from our annual best places to work employee engagement survey results over the last ten years that ‘Professional Growth’ and ‘Career Development Opportunities’ have a 75%+ correlation to employee advocacy, discretionary effort, and intent to stay – all drivers of people performance.

The Corporate Trainer’s Perspective
The importance of learning is not news to those of us in the field of professional learning and development.  But we’re not the ones who need to be persuaded that continuous learning and growth matters.  Beyond having enlightened and supportive leaders, we need to encourage and maintain a healthy corporate culture and a curious workforce that is willing to do the hard work of learning.

Not only will employees be more engaged, but they will also be able to build their value to themselves and to their company as they adapt and grow to handle evolving job requirements.

Neuroscience’s Perspective
Learning new things is a challenge.  It takes work, commitment, and perseverance as well as a willingness to risk feeling awkward and embarrassed as a beginner trying new things.  But taking on challenges is what life is all about for anyone who wants to grow personally and professionally.  Researchers at Yale have confirmed that:

  • If you’re not outside your comfort zone, you’re not learning
  • Uncertainty signals the brain to kick start learning
  • If you’re not at least a little stressed about the outcome of what you’re doing, your brain shuts down learning
  • The function of the brain as well as the nature of learning is not ‘fixed’ but adapts according to the stability of the environment
  • When you enter a more novel and volatile environment, this might enhance the tendency for the brain to absorb more information

What’s In It for the Corporate Learner
There are so many positive reasons to challenge corporate learners in terms of personal growth and career development opportunities.  Here, according to Central Connecticut State University Continuing Education are six additional reasons.  By getting out of the comfort zone, corporate learners will experience improvements in:

  1. Brain Chemistry
    As you learn and practice a new skill, you increase the myelin in your brain which helps both learning and performance.
  2. Learning Speed
    As you stimulate your brain neurons, more neural pathways are formed, and the faster impulses can travel.
  3. Connections
    As you connect a new skill to information and skills that you already know, it becomes easier to learn even more new skills.
  4. Relationships
    As you learn and grow, you become a more interesting person and your relationships can broaden and deepen.
  5. Engagement
    Learning a new skill breaks that cycle of monotony and prevents boredom.
  6. Adaptation to Change
    The richer and more varied your life experience is, the easier it is to adapt to change.

The Right Setting to Challenge Corporate Learners
As learning and development advocates, we must provide a work environment where asking questions, testing new skills, experimenting with new approaches, and receiving feedback are all part of the way work gets done.  Research by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that immediately trying what you have learned is crucial to the transfer of training because “enactment enhances memory by serving as an elaborative encoding strategy.”

And when learners trust that the benefits of learning new knowledge and skills are real and that they will be in a safe learning environment, continuous learning becomes the norm.

The Bottom Line
Especially for companies that rely on their people to succeed, business results depend greatly on having an engaged workforce that is continuously learning. And people learn when they are outside of their comfort zone.  Are you placing your learners in the discomfort of learning long enough for them to learn, practice, and get feedback?

To learn more about reasons to challenge corporate learners, download The 7 Principles to Cure Ineffective Learning

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