As learning and development professionals, we talk a lot about ‘engaging’ staff in education, which can be a challenge, particularly in the aged and social care sectors. But what do we really mean by ‘engagement’?

When I’m referring to ‘engagement’, I’m not referring to staff being attentive or actively learning during an education session, although that’s important. What I really mean is that staff are involved in or committed to their personal learning pathway, embracing and supporting the learning opportunities within their organisation.

Why is it important to engage staff in education?

There are a number of reasons why it is so important that staff are engaged in education:

  • It ensures that your staff are providing the best possible care and services. Education is the best way to facilitate workforce skills and knowledge.
  • It demonstrates workforce competence and hence organisational compliance with government and accreditation frameworks.
  • It builds your reputation in the community. Aged and social care is a competitive industry, so demonstrating that your staff are highly skilled and that your organisation has a commitment to maintaining and growing the knowledge and skill base of your workforce can set you apart from your competitors.
  • It helps retain staff. Evidence shows that staff who feel that their organisation invests in their professional development are more likely to remain in your employment.[1]
  • It attracts new staff. Potential employees are more likely to be attracted to your organisation if they feel that you value the workforce through your commitment to education.
  • It can help to grow your business and services. You may have a model of care that delivers an appropriate service currently, but what about in the future, as care and services evolves? How will your staff adapt to these changes without being engaged in education?
  • Education is an organisational investment, and you want return on your investment.

What do our members describe as a ‘positive learning culture’?

Engaged staff help to create a positive learning culture. We’ve worked with our members to define what a ‘positive learning culture’ is, and how this supports organisational goals and individual learners. Our members describe a positive learning culture as:

  • Flexible
  • Empowering
  • Capable
  • Engaged
  • Motivated learners
  • Outcome focussed
  • Leadership
  • Individualised
  • Valued
  • Accountable

What are the barriers to a positive learning culture?

Even though our members can clearly articulate the attributes of a positive learning culture, it is widely acknowledged that attaining this can be quite challenging.

To achieve a positive learning culture and engaged staff, we need to start by working through the barriers. Our members have listed their main barriers to engaging staff as:

  • Availability of staff – It can be difficult to relieve staff in order to allow them to attend education, particularly if you’re already struggling to fill a roster. Client and resident care has to come first, so how do you still provide education in this context and how do you engage staff at this time?
  • Perceived value – Do your staff perceive education as valuable to them? Do they feel like they already know the content? This can often occur with mandatory training.
  • Literacy, IT skills/access and language barriers – These barriers can be particularly challenging if you are planning to deliver most of your education online.
  • Relevance – Do you use the same training for every member of staff, or is it tailored to their role and scope of practice?
  • Mandatory training – Are your staff attending the same training year after year?
  • Leadership – To create a learning culture, it starts with your board and management team. Does everyone in your organisation demonstrate that they value and prioritise education?

How to engage your staff and provide a positive learning culture

Altura Learning offers a total education solution – not only do we have an extensive library, but we also have a range of supporting resources. We’ve created a suite of learning resources that can offer a blended learning solution to your staff, based on their specific learning needs. It’s important to familiarise yourself with what Altura Learning offers, so that you can utilise it to your advantage.

If you have identified any of the barriers listed above, here are some tips to help you:

  • Perceived value –
    • Do your staff perceive that the education is valuable to them? If you’re not sure, ask them! Staff are more likely to voice their opinion if they feel that it will be listened to, and there should always be an opportunity for feedback after every education session. If they don’t feel the education is valuable to them, you need to go back to your education plan and examine why. Does it need to be more individualised?
    • Can you modify your training so that your staff remain engaged? Alutra Learning offers a range of training options in addition to our videos. Our suite of learning resources contain case scenarios, training games as well as extension and evidence assessments. Can you utilise these resources to vary your training at all? If your staff only need a quick update on the content, you could use the Altura Learning Quick Reference Guide or Infographic to assist with delivering a Toolbox Talk. You could also use these resources to help retain knowledge throughout the year. Additionally, if you use the Bridge LMS and Authoring Tool, you can turn on the
  • Literacy, IT skills/access and language barriers – Education isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach. If you have staff who have identified that they need additional support to complete education, you may need to run some face to face sessions to support them. If you’re planning to offer education online, you could sit with them as they work through the session, until they gain their confidence. If someone doesn’t understand the content or is feeling frustrated by the learning experience, they are less likely to be engaged, so think about how you can support them to overcome this.
  • Relevance – Some organisations deliver the same educational content to every staff member, no matter what role they undertake. This can be a costly exercise and does more harm than good when staff query why they have to attend the session. I would suggest utilising the Altura Learning Pathway to assist you in designing a bespoke education program for the variety of staff roles in your organisation.
  • Leadership – Creating a positive learning culture is similar to creating great leadership. It’s not a set and forget situation. A culture needs to be built and sustained by leaders in your organisation setting an example and providing clear expectations.

We’re always here to help. If you would like to discuss any of the points in this newsletter or how to create and sustain a great learning environment, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with our L&D team on learning@alturalearning.com.

References:

[1]https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/the-true-cost-of-not-providing-employee-training