How to Demonstrate the Benefits of Self-led Learning to Companies

Claudia Reiners
April 14, 2022

How to Demonstrate the Benefits of Self-led Learning to Companies

4bf428ed6af9ff680b7ac8b24b046f3d?s=50&d=mm&r=g Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy

As lifelong learning becomes the norm – not just a trend – we ‘ll see a shift towards ‘self-led’ or ‘self-directed learning’. 

Learners are looking for more autonomy over what and how they learn, and education providers, as facilitators of learning and training, should be there to support them.

Employers are always looking for new ways to boost productivity through training but are often unsure how to achieve this goal. This presents a unique opportunity for training providers to step in and be the subject matter expert. 

Below, we unpack strategies that providers can use to develop mutually-beneficial partnerships with businesses of all shapes and sizes based on this unique learning style.

What is self-led learning?

Driving positive student outcomes should always come first in all forms of learning – and self-led learning is no exception.

The main principle of self-led learning is that learners have full ownership of their education. This applies to the speed at which they complete a course or module, which topics or courses they choose, and how they learn (distance, in-person, workshop-led, etc.).

The self-led learning model unlocks greater student engagement, promotes enjoyment of learning and increases chances of course completion. It gives students control of their own learning, helping them make the best choices for them.

What are some of the benefits of self-led learning for employers?

Self-led learning has a wide range of benefits for students, which naturally benefit their employers too. 

Below, we’ll walk through three key benefits and explain how you, as an education provider, can better communicate these to companies looking to upskill their staff.

Encourage greater engagement

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report revealed that over 40% of Gen Z and Millennial workers and over 30% of Gen X and Baby Boomers wanted “fully self-directed and independent learning.”

The study demonstrates that learners are eager and willing to guide themselves when it comes to training. 

A training programme that is highly engaging and well-chosen enables learners to start exercising the new skills they’ve acquired immediately. With a well-designed training regime, both employees and employers reap the benefits sooner. 

With reports like the one from LinkedIn showing that employees of all ages are crying out for learning that puts them in the driving seat, it should be straightforward to explain to employers that this approach will be more likely to lead to an increase in course engagement. 

Deliver faster, relevant training

Identifying which training courses provide the most value to your employees can be time-consuming. If a course ends up being a bad fit, it can mean previous time and resources wasted.

Therefore, it’s essential to explain to companies that self-led learning can reduce this risk. 

Generally speaking, employees are more tuned into their development needs than learning and development (L&D) teams. The self-led learning method ensures that learning is integrated with each employee’s professional goals and objectives – and by default, the wider company’s mission and vision. 

Foster a culture of learning

The CIPD’s Professionalising Learning and Development report found that 98% of learning and development practitioners wished to develop a positive culture for learning, but only 36% felt like they’ve actually developed one.

There are a number of factors that contribute to this misalignment:

  • Employees who are asked to undertake training in areas not of interest or unrelated to their discipline may feel like learning is more of a chore than an opportunity.
  • There is no established professional development structure, or employees receive no support from their L&D teams. Even the best of employees, who have a clear understanding of their training needs, will need to work collaboratively with L&D teams to develop and implement a training plan.

A culture of learning in a workplace is born from a love for continuous learning. This means that every employee, regardless whether they’re in management or not, knows how to identify and implement training programmes that help them achieve their long-term career goals. 

This bottom-up, as opposed to a top-down, approach to learning and development, is the cornerstone of a healthy company culture.

How to help companies plan a self-led learning strategy

As a trusted training provider and subject matter expert, your job is to help employers understand the true impact that a new style of learning or training will have on their team, overall workforce and company direction.

As you build a relationship with employers, you may find yourself advising on how best to build a self-led learning strategy. 

Below are a few tips you can give to employers in order to help them achieve this.

Encourage information gathering

The first step for employers is for them to speak to their staff and discover which areas they’d like to upskill in. Employers need to work with their leadership team, management and workers to identify key training areas – often, different areas for different teams.

While this is happening, it’s equally important to establish two-way channels for employees to provide training feedback and suggestions. 

Employees, particularly those not in leadership or management, may seek guidance from other team members and managers. For those taking initiative, ensure they have easy access to L&D teams for seamless and faster training implementation.

Identify key results

As a training provider, you may be asked to help employers define the results and outcomes. 

Here, you’ll need to develop a strong understanding of their core objectives: are they looking to upskill to plug a temporary skills gap? Or do they want to overhaul their company’s approach to learning completely? 

This is important to define, as self-led learning can be applied in different ways. 

Self-led learning can be excellent for boosting motivation and interest within the company. On the other hand, it can be used as a platform to build out a new employee-led learning programme. 

Understanding the short and long-term goals of a business will allow you to identify the best ways to apply self-led learning, driving the best possible results.

Help them to revise and reflect

The great thing about self-led learning is that it can be turned on and off as needed. It can be a supplement to other styles of learning or can replace the entire training process entirely. 

The key is to help businesses learn from the initial implementation process and trial. It might be the case that a section of the staff prefers more traditional teaching methods, or that workers struggle to make time for learning. 

Bumps in the road don’t mean it’s time to abandon ship, and education providers need to help employers fully understand what’s working and what’s not.

Self-led learning is an exciting and rewarding approach to learning that can boost employee morale, motivation, and engagement, which has a knock-on effect of increasing company profits and retention.

Self-led learning may need a more nuanced approach, but like all workforce training partnerships, guarantee a steady stream of students in the long run. 

If you’re curious to learn more about how education providers can provide bespoke solutions to students and employers alike, get in touch with Candlefox today.

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Claudia Reiners
Head of Strategy
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