How to support learning in the workplace

5 mins read

Learning in the workplace can be very different to learning in educational or academic environments. Often, it combines both formal and informal training, and each workplace has a different approach to how they support learning. 

Our first years in the workplace can be full of uncertainty and anxiety about our abilities, and no matter how experienced we become, we face new challenges in the workplace every day.  

Over time, we all learn to adapt to the different expectations and pressures of the working world, learning new skills and finding a balance between work and life. 

 Our Continued Personal Development (CPD) and workplace learning is often self-led and we don’t always receive the kind of constant constructive feedback found in education. 

But the value of learning in the workplace is the same as that in education, improving your knowledge and skills to progress. 

Not everyone wants to climb the career ladder, of course. Progression can mean different things to each of us and we all have our own goals in life. And exploring this journey with employees and focusing on support for workplace development has many benefits to organisations and individuals. 

Companies that do not employ an inclusive learning and development strategy are at risk of lower employee engagement and losing talent. 

Why learning in the workplace should be important to your organisation 

“In order to assist the development of expertise, one needs to understand the attributes that constitute expert performance at work. This enables the identification of the goals for workplace learning and selecting particular strategies to most effectively generate expertise in workers.” (S. Billett, 2020) 

Every organisation wants to create experts, highly skilled and motivated in their roles, but the challenge is we all learn in different ways, so employers need to have a flexible and personalised approach to L&D.  

Helping people to access and achieve learning goals in the workplace is vital. 

Some companies report it is six times less expensive to build technical skills internally than it is to go hire them from the job market. 

Alongside technical skills, it’s important to consider soft skills, like communication, collaboration and time management, with some people requiring more development and support in these areas. 

Investing in your employees and their development will always pay off in the long run too. From a survey of around 4,000 professionals, LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report states that 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. 

It’s clear our workplace culture is changing. 

People want to work for organisations that value and recognise their contributions, and HR leaders are responsible for creating an environment that attracts, retains and develops diverse talent. 

But what’s the best way to upskill staff and get insights into your workforce? 

Understanding cognition and learning in the workplace 

Cognition describes the mental processes we use to acquire knowledge and understand the world around us through our senses and experiences. 

We use different cognitive processes to complete everyday activities, and we wouldn’t be able to function in the workplace without these crucial capacities in areas like memory, language processing and reasoning.  

We might not have a good memory, but we may have other strengths in visual perception or verbal reasoning. Knowing more about our individual cognition and how we can utilise and support this in the working world can enable greater understanding and collaboration within teams. 

“Having the right amount of cognitive style diversity is important for team performance. Teams with too little cognitive diversity may lack the cognitive capacity to tackle tasks that require different ways of encoding and processing information[.]” (I. Aggarwal and A.W. Woolley, 2015) 

Cognitive diversity is about understanding our differences and accepting that everyone can offer a unique perspective because of how they think differently. In your organisation, greater cognitive diversity enables you to tackle tasks and solve problems with a wider range of different thinkers and, therefore, a more broad-reaching perspective. 

Cognitive diversity is one the greatest assets of a team and your organisation as a whole. Research has proven that diverse teams have higher performance and innovation (Boston Consulting Group, 2017).  

But to truly embrace diversity, you need a culture of inclusion to go with it. 

Business leaders are waking up to the potential of hiring neurodiverse talent.  

And HR leaders are committed to supporting neurodiversity, ensuring Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (ED&I) policy is reflected in daily operations and practices. 

Neuro-different individuals may experience some challenges in the workplace without support, but they also offer specialist skills and strengths that others may not possess.  

Cognassist is a neurodiversity company, and the insights and support we offer can help everyone to understand their strengths and development areas. Our cognitive strategies offer effective and inclusive tools for learning and development in the workplace. 

Check out our guide to understand further the relationship between cognition and learning!

Getting help with personal development or CPD 

Continued personal development is all about the individual, but it doesn’t solely fall on the employee.  

It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone has well-established skills in self-reflection. Many employees won’t have a clear idea of how they want to progress or what training would be beneficial to both themselves and their wider team. 

Managers and HR teams should offer support and guidance to help individuals grow within their roles and the organisation. The key is ensuring that every employee is able to thrive in your organisation, that managers receive appropriate training and that you can offer an inclusive employment experience. 

Training to support neuro-different colleagues is a crucial part of what we offer, helping you to support neurodiverse talent and get the best from each employee. 

And when improving workplace skills is so critical to an organisation’s strategy and performance, Learning and development (L&D) teams also have a significant function. With Cognassist, L&D teams can use our cognitive data to personalise employee development and adapt personal development plans to help create an inclusive learning culture. 

You won’t truly be able to understand someone’s learning journey if you can’t work with that person’s strengths and develop personalised cognitive tools and strategies for learning

How Cognassist can help improve and enhance employee learning and development 

“The worlds of education and work are moving closer to each other, and that the integration of formal and informal learning is an essential prerequisite for developing the kinds of expertise needed in response to the changes taking place in working life.” (P. Tynjälä, 2008) 

Cognassist has worked to support learning in the education sector for over 5 years and we have helped thousands of learners to improve their confidence and gain their qualifications. Support for learning in the workplace is just as important. 

And like our mission in education, we want to support every organisation to drive positive change and improve people’s lives. 

Our ambition is simple: to help HR leaders embrace neurodiversity at work. We’re passionate about giving employees the keys to their own cognition to understand how they think and learn, make informed decisions about their future and improve their lives. 

Take our FREE Neurodiversity in the workplace Masterclasses to understand more about the different ways we think and learn and what strategies your organisation can implement to improve the employment experience.