Learning behaviour theories – in practice

learning behaviour

By Clare Wimalasundera, Director of PR and Marketing

Research shows that opportunities for development have become the second most important factor in workplace happiness (after the nature of the work itself). We are born with an instinct to learn and at work we are constantly looking for ways to do things better – it’s a human need. 

However, despite this, the majority of training or learning and development programmes in today’s organisations are ineffective. recent Gartner survey found that 70% of employees reported that they didn’t even have the skills required to do their current roles.  

Why? The purpose, timing, and content of traditional organisational learning is flawed. 

The traditional corporate learning portal (the learning management system) is rarely used other than for mandatory compliance training and it often takes many clicks to find what you need. Learning therefore ends up being relegated both consciously and subconsciously to the bottom of the listand this also relates to why traditional D&I programs generally fail to reach their objectives. 

This is why, for our platform Include LXP, IDC has come up with a different approach. An engaging and target-driven method for employee learning in organisations that aim to become more inclusive.  

We have adopted a research-driven approach to create innovative and blended learning programs that are based on the development of personal habits and team behaviour. Here we will talk a bit about the theories that have informed our approach. 

Social norm theory focuses on analysing our own environment and social influences in order to understand how we act in a social context. Social norms are customary rules that influence our interactions with others. This theory aims to understand the environment and interpersonal influences (such as peers) in order to change behaviour, which can be more effective than a focus on the individual to change behaviour.  

Social norm theory was first used by Perkins and Berkowitz in 1986  and the approach has also been used to address a wide range of public health topics including smoking, drink driving and sexual assault prevention. Using social norm theory, In Diverse Company aims to shift individual behaviour in organisations by correcting perceived norms of the employee’s environment. 

The habit formation model posits that applying habits is the most efficient method to develop positive behaviour through repetition over a certain period, and to make the process cognitively accessible. Old habits can be difficult to break, and healthy habits are often harder to develop than we would like. That’s because the behavioural patterns we repeat most often are etched into our neural pathways. There has been a huge growth in recent years in technology being used for habit building with health and fitness apps, including MyFitnessPal and Fitbit, with positive results. This is the reason why we have created our learning programs with a set of underlying habits for each desired behaviour.  

The theory of psychological safety and trust is based on principles and beliefthat you won’t be punished when you make mistakes. It allows members of a group to express their opinions, be creative and collaborate efficiently with other members. This theory has influenced our decision of using positive reinforcement in our learning programmes and as a principle for the design of our online platform Include LXP – rewarding learners when they do well rather than penalise them when they fail.   

The extensive body of research available on the topic of learning in an organisational context has immense value for D&I experts and other professionals who want to embrace inclusion. At In Diverse Company we have leveraged this knowledge along with our expertise in the corporate environment in order to create inclusive cultures within organisations, which foster growth and represent a powerful competitive advantage for our clients. 

Photo by Canva

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