Okay, a bit dramatic but our research at Amy’s Ice Creams illustrates the ineffectiveness of traditional classrooms in the workplace; instructors in front, perfectly lined rows, and sitting still for hours as an instructor drones on and on. “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller…”
If creating an impactful training program seems daunting; we get it, you need valuable resources like money, time, and focus. What if we told you that a break room could be more effective than traditional methods of adult education? What if we said the water cooler could foster educational gossip. Most importantly what if we told you learning could be fun? Turn your breakroom into a classroom.
What Is A Non-traditional Classroom?
For centuries the education model has been the same, as we moved from the fields to the factories employees needed a standard set of skills to do a repetitive job. Automation and technology has changed the game. Repetitive task are sitting second fiddle to brain power, critical thinking, collaboration, and innovation. The manufacturing and retail industry alike are looking for employees that can imagine two steps ahead curve. Inspired leaders know that we must continue our employee's education beyond what they need to complete the job. This comes at a high cost. However, the cost inaction is much higher. (meme what happens if we don’t train.)
Imagine teaching our workforce without them feeling like traditional students?
“Okay team, open your binders to page Chapter 42 “How to pick up a box”.
Imagine board games, apps, and competitive team play are the lecturers the teachers. Students are then allowed to choose from a variety of teaching methods, tools, and experts. By using techniques such as gamification, info bites and self-paced directed learning we can remove the stereotype of the classroom. We can turn any workspace into a space for learning, exploration, and fun. Ironically, to move past the classroom we need only to look toward the modern education system. Techniques such as project-based learning, design thinking, and Whole Brain Thinking are methods ripe for the business world.
Benefits of Non-Traditional Environments
1) Connect Employees To Their Work
Go beyond mere skill acquisition and teach the staff a deeper understanding of how they affect the business in a real physical, visible way. Imagine your team utilizing business literacy in combination with skills like empathy, creative problem solving, and collaboration. We call that competition-resistant solutions. Explaining how their job function fits into the larger picture can give your team a sense of purpose, a better understanding of the business, and will lead to them making better future decisions.
2) Stronger Retention
Simple combinations of informal lecture, reading, watching, doing, collaborating and teaching can increase retention up to 90% from studies by the National Training Laboratory Institute. Sounds like a lot of work, right? It can be but it doesn’t have to be. Employers have all of the tools necessary to create an engaging and fun training program.
3) Peer Accountability
Meaningful learning takes place in unexpected places opening up possibilities of informal peer mentorships. The greatest way to learn something is by teaching it. Delegate to motivate. Turn your content experts into teachers. If they are unable to teach a mentoring program can serve the same purpose without a train the trainer program.
We strongly encourage you to break down the silos between departments to spotlight diverse points of view when teaching any concept.
4) Training Is Finally Fun
We spend a majority of our lives at work. Why not make that time fun? If you love what you do, it hardly feels like work. It is now time for a new method of education for a new generation of thinkers. A new generation of skilled workers that have been told from birth to challenge, to achieve and to question. At Amy’s, we teach using play. We teach with fun and play because it was what we have ingrained in us from the beginning. We are pre-programmed to learn this way. All mammals learn from play. According to the Scientific American “It’s the very first teaching tool we are exposed to.” To Play is fun. To play is to learn.
Being a young father, I have begun to see the correlation between how my son learns and what is the most appropriate method for teaching is. What does this mean? It means that we have made education in business infinitely more complicated and a lot less fun over the past several decades.
The benefits of play are not hard to recognize. We have reaped the rewards of a healthy childhood play experience. We know that children receive may good things from their playful experiences. Physical, emotional, mental and social health are all results of a healthy play environment. As part of a successful play experience, if done correctly employees will be alert, engaged, and focused and “how many people here would love to have their employees have those attributes each day at work.”
Fun is like a shot of performance-enhancing drugs for your culture. Making fun relevant encourages employee job happiness, in turn, influencing ownership thinking and a stronger dedication to company goals.
5) Motivation Through Progression
After public speaking, what’s the next biggest pain for employees? Training.
Between required business training, new skill acquisition, and career development employees feel frustrated because training becomes a chore. We found that using a personal scorecard and leaderboard motivate employees as they see their progression and their cohorts spurring competition. As a video game drives players through level progression, use the same technique for your curriculum.
Create a personal scorecard for those going through training. Once they complete a level, provide feedback and a pride award. Vanity awards, both physical and digital, have no financial value and are proudly displayed as a badge of honor.
6) Continuous Motivation From Mastery
In Daniel Pink’s book, “Drive The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” the author points to mastery as being a large contributor to motivation. If you take inspiration from video games, you can create “skill trees,” specific, measurable knowledge tracks aimed to increase individual performance. Maxing out these skill trees gives employees greater freedom to influence the numbers.
No need to create skill tree’s from scratch. Many technical fields have well-documented knowledge and training requirements. Use those as a scaffolding to create your skill trees.
7) Short Attention Spans Become An Asset
We hear it all the time, “Millennials have no attention span, they can’t even sit through a 20-minute tv show.” First, we don’t call them ‘millennials’ because that name has so many negative connotations to it. We call that age group, “TNGs,” The Next Generation. There is always going to be 'the next generation' so instead of being surprised, let’s accept it and move on.
Second, we can use short attention spans to our advantage. Break complicated training curriculum into info bites. A short burst of information followed by feedback. The learner can reinforce the concepts in a 4-minute video within days of completion. Most students have a 7-day window to reinforce anything they have learned; miss that window and content will more than likely be lost. If you think that is just for the TNGs, I’d like you to open your smartphone and tell me how many casual games are on your phone. Smartphone and web games like Candy Crush and Farmville, to name a few popular examples, have been proven to not only speed the learning process but also improve long-term retention. Why not capitalize on proven techniques and meet your employees where they are.
Those games are just a quick dip into skill improvement, increasing your enjoyment of the game and keeping you playing for longer. Why wouldn’t we want the same results in business education?
Make short 1-minute product/service knowledge videos that teach the staff about the goods or services that you sell. Once built you can use the scaffolding for future micro-learning videos.