Buch and Bartley (2002, p. 3) agree that work should be a joyful time during the life of an individual. But this is not the case in the modern working environment which is full of pressure and demand from managers that try to counteract the competitive nature of the environment. Continuous learning has become a buzz phrase for many employees in organizations. In order to increase performance and productivity within organizations, there is a need for employees to turn working environment into learning environment. Buch and Bartley (2002, p. 3) suggest that instead of managers trying to push employees to become more productive with a particular skill, it would be important for them to encourage a learning environment which will help people to gain new skills.
According to Boud and Garrick (2002, p. 5), learning at the work place should be geared toward increasing an individual's capacity to be effective, productive and competitive. This should be the primary concern of managers in organizations that want to have an advantage. Boud and Garrick (2002, p. 5) in their study indicate that a focused learning rather than separated training activities for employees has proved to be effective in achieving high productivity in an organization. He further indicates that most of learning activities are person centered in a way that they focus on the person obtaining knowledge and skills while trainings are focused on the trainer. However, Gross (2010, p. 7) argues that there has been an impediment in the process of encouraging learning in workplaces due to the lack of a unified measurement tool for learning.
This write up discusses the extent to which workers can improve their ability to learn at work places.
Learning at Work Places
According to Robotham (2003, p. 473)learning at work place is not only focused on improving efficiency, competitiveness and productivity. It should also be seen as a way of keeping up with the new developments in technology and innovation. Any focused learning, therefore, requires that both the process in which learning takes place and the product of learning are put into consideration before learning commences. Similarly, Parsloe, Parsloe and Leedham (2009, p. 20) observe that learning at the working places is normally hindered by stereotypic views such as the claim that learning at the working place only focuses on improving the working of people and thus improves their job prospects. Some scholars have pointed to the need of redefinition of learning to consider the contemporary approaches to learning. However, Robotham (2003, p. 473)warns that such a view is likely to hinder the process of learning by making it viewed casually and thereby inhibiting the realization of the product of learning.
According to Parsloe, Parsloe, and Leedham (2009, p. 20) learning in work place is a complex undertaking which should be approached with care in the case if efficiency and effectiveness is to be attained as a product of learning. For instance, Gross (2010, p. 7) argues that the fact that workers have learnt the skills in note taking does not mean that they have known what to take down in every presentation or necessarily understood the topic on which they are taking notes. Such learning process requires the integration of several learning elements besides the worker’s improved ability in a single learning element. He observes that a skill like note taking should be taught to work in specific subjects for them to gain more insight on the subject.
Similarly, Robotham (2003, p. 475)suggests that the learning styles of different individuals need to be evaluated to tailor make a learning process that will suit each individual’s ability to learn. This consideration of individual’s learning styles should not just be at the levels of the development and design of learning program but also successive delivery of that program. Robotham (2003, p. 474)argues that this will allow the consideration of the awareness of different learning preferences by workers and their varied learning styles will facilitate the development of a proper framework within which learning carried out to optimize effectiveness.
However, Buch and Bartley (2002, p. 5) observe that the identification of learning styles should be done in such a manner to make it easier to match an effective learning style with a training style. In cases where the style of training does not match with the learning style, Robotham (2003, p. 474)suggests that workers should be encouraged to increase their learning versatility to allow them learn using the unfamiliar approaches. Robotham (2003, p. 474)emphasizes that the thought of having a possibility to opt out during a learning process.
Robotham (2003, p. 474) thus finds that it is not clear whether having a particular style of learning that includes putting people into pre-organized categories will help in achieving the intended goal. Boud and Garrick (2002, p. 9) also argue that such a learning model may allow for programs to be tailor made to meet the needs of smaller groups within a large group. They further add that such an approach has the danger of encouraging people to get used to a specific learning style with believe that it is the recommended style by the trainer. Boud and Garrick (2002, p. 9) content that this will leave learners to be short-sighted intellectually and avoid learning situations which they consider to be outside of their area of working.
How to Achieve Effective Learning at Work
According to Robotham (2003, p. 477),learning at work place can be improved if the process is broken down into constituent elements. This view is supported by Parsloe, Parsloe and Leedham (2009, p. 20) who suggest that any job description should be developed around the ability of the worker to learn emerging needs of the job instead of focusing on the real content to be learned. They add that development of an effective learning strategy at work place should begin with a model of the learning process. Similarly, Bratton et al (2010, p. 8) observe that learning depends on what is being learned while the process of instructing and training is dependent on such factors as the subject to be learned, the nature of the workers to be taught, and instructional context or environment.
Consequently, Bratton et al (2010, p. 10) suggest that effective learning should allow the interaction of several factors which together ensure that learning is exciting at the work place. He says that an organization centered approach towards learning will ensure that the methods of learning, the size of the group to be trained, nature of the program, and the ability of the worker to conceptualize the importance of learning will improve learning overall. They also observe that for learning to be improved, there is need to have a trainer centered approach where the style of training, motivation, the freedom given to the learners, the relationship between the new knowledge to be learnt and the old knowledge, the nature of the learning environment and how the learner participate in the process of learning work together to influence the level of learning in the work place.
Finally, Robotham (2003, p. 477)notes that improved learning should focus on the ability of the trainee to communicate well with the learners. He argues that this ability will emanate from the trainee being motivated to pass his information, the learning style of the learners, and the level of anticipation among the learners. Noticeably, such factors like the approach that the learner adopts towards learning and the previous knowledge will also affect the level of learning in work place.
However, Bratton et al (2010, p. 10) suggest that in order to develop competent learners, a holistic approach that considers both the skills related to learning and the mechanics of the process of learning should be used. Learners should also be informed about a learning process so that they do not act ignorantly during the process of learning. Through this knowledge of the process of learning; Parsloe, Parsloe, and Leedham (2009, p. 20) argue that learners will be able to discover and retain the new knowledge. Additionally, they will be able to identify and construct existing relationships between the old and the new knowledge. Improved learning is thus manifested in the ability and willingness of the learner to create new information based on the previous exercise of learning and the ability to apply the acquired knowledge in solving problems.
From the discussion, it is evident that continuous learning at work places is important if an organization is to maintain productivity, competence and efficiency in its operations. However, it has been noted that improvement in learning at work place can only be achieved if the trainer and the trainee are willing to participate in the exchange of knowledge through communication and adapt that knowledge to the demands of the emerging problems in the industry. Equally important is the existence of the quest by workers to want to acquire new and relevant information related to their job description and avoid being contented with whatever information that one might be having.