How Blended Learning can Drive Inclusion

Introduction

An inclusive culture is essential for business growth and effective training is essential for all organisations if they are to successfully achieve this. However, far too many training programmes in this area fail to deliver the expected results as they are not properly embedded into the business. It is critical both during and more importantly after the training period has finished to continue to remind the organisation of the messages learnt in order to see the best possible return of their investment.

The topics discussed in the next three articles include:

The importance of an inclusive culture for business growth

Helping staff understand the wider impact of their behaviour

Why a blended approach to learning is so effective

How to make more effective use of virtual learning tools

Gaining the support of the key people within your organisation

How to guarantee the best possible return on investment from your training

The impact of behaviour in the workplace

So much of what we do at the People Development Team involves getting individuals to consider the wider implications of their conscious and unconscious behaviour and then, in turn, question the beliefs that cause them to demonstrate these.

Many of us behave in the way we do things because it’s normal to us, but it’s important to be able to step back every so often and ask whether what is normal is always right. It’s true that human beings are very instinctive animals and that we can actually make some incredibly good decisions based on our instincts and intuition, but sometimes that crosses a line. As a result, our behaviour begins to have an impact on other people and situations, to the extent it starts to affect profits and relationships with clients. A key part of cultural development within an organisation is therefore looking at which behaviours need to change, whether that’s related to something specific like unconscious bias or more general, day-to-day inclusion.

Continuous embedding is vital if this is to prove successful. It’s important that the lessons learnt during a workshop are kept at the forefront of the employees mind until they become firmly embedded. This is more of a challenge than ever in these days of social media, where we are saturated with information every day, to the extent that many people have become desensitised to it. However, it is perfectly possible to turn new technology to our advantage and use it in a way that is focused on embedding the right messages that drive engagement in this area.

Technology is a catalyst for positive change in the workplace as opposed to a distraction; used well it can open up opportunities for higher engagement and ensuring inclusion is seen as a strategic enabler – impacting talent, business development and general success.

Everyone learns differently, a blended approach to training embraces that

The range of learning approaches we employ is essential if training is to prove successful. The reason for this is simple: everyone learns differently, so an approach that works for one member of staff may prove ineffective for another.

Some people would find the prospect of sitting through an hour long webinar or studying a lengthy document incredibly tedious, but others would appreciate that level of detail. A blended approach to learning means that staff can train in a way that best suits them, whether that’s studying face-to-face with the trainer, or in their own time via virtual learning tools. The goal is to keep the training interesting and accessible for everyone involved, so that staff are fully engaged with what they are learning.

A bespoke approach is absolutely essential if training is to produce results. Sometimes this can be as simple as easy access to a “Feed” on the latest research, or an impactful podcast.

Whatever options are chosen, we work with clients to take an objective view of what is appropriate culturally and linguistically. Great programmes can fail when tools are delivered in a way that does not suit the audience, or makes the learning harder. Driving an inclusive culture asks for self-analysis, all approaches must make this easier and less challenging.

Bringing the “key players” on board

The all-important and sometimes endless conversation around creating the “burning platform” for inclusion, making the practical business case is often difficult to pin down, let alone share with the “right people”.

Having established a clear view as to what inclusion/diversity means to an organisation, we often move to a strategic review (tools to test the current strategy) that enables Senior players to bring themselves to a realisation that creating an inclusive culture is critical to sustained success. This is usually done as part of an offsite key meeting. Having established this, we then explore how complex an issue it can be, and how recognising that the change needed will come through a key communication of awareness raising, practical tools, supportive processes and Causes embedding.

It can sound like a massive and expensive task! However, a well-honed blended approach can, and does manage all of these elements to drive real and sustained change.

A blended learning approach for inclusion training is necessary to ensure the greatest value for your organisation

One of the biggest challenges for businesses at all levels and in all industries nowadays is getting more out of their resources. As a result, many organisations are keen to boost their employee’s performance in order to both impact their bottom line and raise the levels of engagement and inclusion in their workplace, and so invest a lot of time and money in training for them.

However, the problem with this is that whenever you send your staff on “Training sessions”, they’re taken out of the workplace, which may have a negative effect on your organisation’s productivity, especially in the case of larger events, where a great number of staff will be out of the office for several days. Organisations are therefore forced to balance the need for driving inclusion forward with their day-to-day practicalities and the available budget.

But that’s where virtual learning comes in…

The term ‘virtual learning’ encompasses a great many different elements, which can be used in different combinations depending on your organisation’s needs and goals to ensure the best possible result. Although it’s certainly important to bring people together, this isn’t the only approach to training that can prove highly effective, which is why at the People Development Team, we combine traditional classroom and seminar-based training with advanced webinar sessions, e-learning, podcasts and other embedding approaches, allowing clients to enjoy the benefits of these in a format that’s tailored to their specific needs.

This is what we mean by a ‘blended’ approach to training. Instead of relying on “One-size-fits-all” solutions that may not cheap nba jerseys be appropriate for every organisation, we look closely at the organisation’s needs and consider every possible solution in terms of what value it will bring. Rather than replacing traditional training, the blended approach uses it to its fullest potential by combining it with the best virtual learning methods whenever necessary.

For example, one of the major advantages of face-to-face learning is that it brings people together. Spending a whole day together discovering more about inclusion can really help staff engage with each other on a social level, and reduce potential assumptions. It is still important to ensure that the lessons learnt during such sessions really stick and that the delegates don’t fall back on bad habits within a few weeks of completing the programme.

This is the key to really getting the greatest possible value out of any form of training – it will only justify the initial investment if it results in a genuine personal and cultural shift. It is all about initiating a fundamental change in beliefs and perceptions, which isn’t going to happen overnight.

That’s why we bring in virtual learning tools to ensure delegates are properly supported in their journey. This might include chat and social networking programmes where staff can share and discuss the things they’ve learnt, e-learning courses and recorded webinars that allow staff to continue their studies independently, in their own time, as well as things like blogs, vlogs, podcasts, film clips and even interactive games and simulations. We can also provide short emails and documents that are distributed throughout their organisation to encourage discussion about the training’s key talking points.

The specific tools we provide will vary from organisation to organisation, but are all intended to ensure that training results in lasting cultural change as opposed to short-term solutions that don’t get to the root of problems. The long-term goal is to encourage discussion, share good practice and ensure that the learning methods are properly embedded in the company culture, thus driving a tangible shift towards inclusion.

Methods of Virtual Learning

We use a wide selection of tools to implement the principles we’ve discussed in this guide and ensure our training is always optimised to suit the needs of the client. These range from interactive group events to material that members of staff can work through individually, in their own time. Let’s look at some of them in detail…

1. Workshops – Face-to-face (Live)

These can range in size. Their main advantage is that they bring everyone together in one room where they can interact with each other under the direction of the facilitators. They can often be powerful team building exercises and allow the attendees to enjoy plenty of personal attention from the trainer, but will require time to be taken away from work.

2. Workshops – Virtual, live advanced webinars

Our approach takes the concept of webinars to a whole other level. We facilitate up to 50 people at a time to enjoy two-way audio conversation while viewing videos and slides. The trainer remains visible at all times, directing everything. There’s also the chance to use ‘virtual breakout rooms’, where small groups of attendees can engage in a private conversation, then present their conclusions to the group on a virtual whiteboard.

This approach allows attendees to enjoy the best of both worlds – the interaction of traditional workshops with the convenience and flexibility of web-based learning. Put simply, delegates attend a live session from wherever they are in the world using a telephone and a computer. The benefits of not flying people around the globe and yet having them take part in a belief changing, self-reflective session is immense!

Despite taking place online, they are still incredibly interactive (something that we believe is a key part of all effective learning, regardless of the format), although obviously they don’t provide the opportunity for the trainer to engage with the attendees in person.

Webinars can also be recorded, which allows them to be used as asynchronous learning tools in the future, so staff who weren’t able to attend at the designated time will still be able to benefit from the training delivered.

3. Conference Seminars – Face-to-face (Live or Virtual)

Here we bring together up to 1,500 people at one time to explore a topic in depth, or launch a new initiative, strategy or approach.

We often advise our clients to ensure that spots at conferences are usually given to talent, HR, Business Development and even strategy are given an “Inclusion” slant. Our group activities are both memorable and send inclusion messages that people talk about for many months.

4. Bespoke e-learning

Our wide-ranging experience means that we are able to create customised e-learning tools for organisations whenever necessary. These can take virtually any form, as they are totally bespoke – tailored to the specific needs of the business and the technical capability of your organisation.

E-learning will be one of the most expensive parts of a blended solution. It is likely to increase in price each time a language option is added, a cultural change is made to imagery, and video clips of animation is chosen. Ensure your e-learning partner tells you about this.

Our off the shelf global packages represent great value, and have been designed to lessen these costs to our clients, while still giving the opportunity to craft and tailor for the biggest impact.

5. Film clips

Video is an incredibly effective way of communicating ideas throughout an organisation; it’s far more personal and tends to stick in the viewer’s mind longer than a company-wide email would. Variety is important here, and a combination of scripted scenarios (often shot on location at recognisable client offices) and ‘talking head’ options embed messages by speaking Level directly about the issues that our delegates face each day.

Having your own people speak to camera about their experiences of inclusion/exclusion, combined with a guide to how to share/use can be very powerful.

These can then be distributed throughout the organisation in order to support the existing training, introduce new concepts and ideas or ask about talking points.

6. Talking Points

Ensuring that managers and team leaders carry on the conversation during team meetings and events is essential. Our “How to” guides will help, however crafting “Talking Points” that suggest ways to introduce and nurture the conversations ensure a wider uptake. Combing a simple film clip with this approach can reach many people easily.

7. E-Reminders

Simple, automated messaging delivered to delegate’s in-boxes at predetermined intervals in order to keep inclusion fresh in their minds. We’ve found that staff really appreciate this, as the material often reminds them of elements of the training that they particularly enjoyed and sparks new ideas about how to put them into practice in their work.

These may also take the form of pod or vod casts.

8. Coaching

Our approach necessitates the leaders within the organisation to self-reflect and often the best way to do this is via a one to one coaching approach.

9. Video Tiles

Using green screen technology, this approach enables powerful messages and images to be shared. It is possible to deliver complex ideas around inclusion, and ensure the all-important self-awareness reflection happens. These are also used by many Neues of our clients to “Market” a programme internally where it has not been mandated.

10. Pod/Vod Casts

The classic embedding tool. Following any workshop, a series of short recordings that captured the key moments or learning’s can be recorded using a combination of film/audio/written and sent to all delegates. We usually develop a series of 6 of these being sent over a 3 month period.

11. Inclusion Games

Good for using at Town Halls/off-sites, the best ones can be developed with your employees or employee resource groups. Usually based on a board game approach, they enable the inclusion message to be shared easily and often with gales of laughter!

The future and how to embed your unconscious bias into your business culture

Once the training has been completed and all the different elements have been put in place within the organisation, we work with their key people to ensure staff at all levels are making effective use of everything we have provided. It’s not just us Nba and our delegates within the organisation who need to take responsibility at this point – the key business people within the organisation will need to do their part as well.

This might involve setting up mentoring circles, and providing staff with additional learning opportunities – such as reminders, film-clips and talking points – as well as creating situations where they can come together virtually via social networks, raising issues that may sometimes be contentious, but which spark a conversation that leads to a solution. The goal is to establish a culture where problems are brought into the open and dealt with properly rather than being swept under the carpet.

Over the years, we have discovered that when issues related to leadership, development and cultural change are cheap jerseys brought into the open, people naturally become curious about them and are keen to find solutions. This way, staff can start to replace their unhelpful beliefs, take ownership of their roles and make their own contribution towards boosting the organisation’s bottom cheap jerseys line.

The future

A blended approach done well should be a powerful, joined up and strategic driver that enables an inclusive culture to be created.

We often talk about creating an impact “Sweet spot”. The place where training inputs have given rise to a continued conversation. Make no mistake, this has to be carefully monitored through prompts and ensuring take-aways are stimulating enough to be shared, but it can be done.

The sweet spot here is the place where an intention to create a diverse workplace actually creates an inclusive culture and becomes business as usual, where the best available talent is attracted, thrives and drives your strategic aims, and your business forward.

Conclusion

We hope this guide has provided a fresh perspective on the subject of training and that you’re now keen to find out ! more about how a blended approach can help take your organisation to the next level.

In conclusion, let us just remind you to be patient and methodical as you go about improving your organisation’s performance, utilising the right learning and development tools and doing everything you can to ensure lasting change has been embedded.

If you do so, constant improvement will become a natural part of your company culture.

Please give us a call if we can help in any way with any of these training techniques and we wish you the very best of luck and hope we’ll get a chance to help you implement everything we’ve talked about in the future!