May 24, 2021

Is Flexible Learning the Future of Staff Training?

Training staff in an effective, meaningful way can be a challenge for organisations. As businesses grow both regionally and globally, many may oftentimes find that providing engaging learning resources and programmes that will educate, upskill and motivate employees can be a tough job. 
Over the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic added an extra layer of difficulty for HR departments planning and executing learning and development strategies, as extensive social-distancing measures were put in place. Whether it was onboarding new recruits or upskilling existing team members, training had to be done through e-learning in many cases, as large sectors of the workforce were forced to trade their work desks for their kitchen tables. 
Now, as many countries begin to emerge from months-long lockdowns, employees are keen to retain the flexibility of the Covid-19 era: a survey by Microsoft revealed that 71% of UK workers want flexible working to continue beyond the constraints of the pandemic. And a vast majority say they feel able to perform as effectively when working remotely as they would in the office, according to PwC. Meanwhile, many employers are already planning for a hybrid model that blends home and office working for at least some time. 
In this context, it’s only natural that staff training in more and more organisations becomes increasingly adaptable and elastic, to not only mirror the changing attitudes towards work, but also to give personnel the possibility to take ownership of their learning process and have a work-life balance that meets their needs. 
Learners in the driver’s seat 
Long documents or slides and multiple-choice quizzes are one of the most common one-size-fits-all methods to train staff. They usually go hand in hand with a set deadline of completion.  
Flexible learning, on the other hand, takes a more learner-led approach, where the person taking a course is in the driver's seat regarding their own learning process. With this method, users set the pace of learning, as well as the time and place for lessons, enabled by technologies that allow for 24/7 availability such as cloud computing. This, in turn, gives them the possibility to plan their schedules according to needs and demands not only from the workplace but also from their personal lives. 
Flexible learning also usually involves making a range of resources available, so the students can pick and choose the right way for them to learn something new. This is crucial, as what is effective for one person may not be right for the next.  
For example, visual learners may benefit from appealing charts and graphs, but those who prefer auditory methods may well absorb more information from a lecture. A video or webinar may be a good in-between for both. Plus, such a format lends itself naturally to transcription and subtitles, further increasing the accessibility of the content to a multilingual audience whilst also catering to both visual and auditory learners.  
While it might mean extra work for the employer, offering multiple learning resources for employees to choose from ultimately means a more engaged and better educated staff. This in turn leads to a better performance not only of individuals, but of the business as a whole. 
The importance of a first-language approach 
Today, many businesses have grown into global organisations, operating across multiple territories with a range of different native tongues. While this brings a richer cultural diversity, it may also signify added challenges for firms when it comes to planning training and corporate learning. 
Thanks to the advances of technology, flexible learning allows teams to access learning resources from anywhere and at the times that suit them; they can start and stop according to their needs, and choose the resources that work best for them. But what happens if the educational content is not in their native tongue? 
Offering a more personalised experience, mindful of individuals’ own rhythm and goals, is a central component of flexible learning. And language is one of the core aspects of a bespoke approach. Providing staff with learning resources in their own tongue will not only encourage engagement but will also help to make concepts clearer and ideas easier to understand and be retained. More importantly, it will contribute to create a familiar environment for staff that at the same time is more conducive to learning. 
For this approach to work seamlessly, resources not only need to be translated into the language of the target audiences but also thoroughly reviewed to see whether there are aspects that need to be localised to work in the intended market. This covers both linguistic and non-linguistic elements that range from idioms and slang to things like date formats, currencies and visual components. Examples and scenarios used to explain concepts or ideas need checking as well, to ensure they are relevant and appropriate for users in a specific market.  
Partnering with a trusted language service partner that works with native linguists is key not only to spot any potential issues quickly but also to provide staff with a learning experience that makes them feel comfortable from the very beginning and is pertinent to their own environments and expectations. 
At THG Fluently, we’ve been providing language services to global businesses across a range of sectors since 2003. In that time, we’ve learned what it takes to give organisations the support they need to train and upskill staff, no matter where they are. So, if you’d like to learn more about how we can support your business with our e-learning translation services, feel free to get in touch.

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