It used to be that training was arranged to provide knowledge, and obviously, that is a big part of it. But is knowledge enough by itself? Not exactly.
It’s behavioural change that really makes a difference, as it’s proof that the learner has gained the skill, expanded their role, and taken on board what they’ve learnt. And it isn’t just beneficial to the employee; any new skills that make their way into an employee’s changed behaviour inevitably help drive a business forward too.
But if the training doesn’t change behaviour then it’s wasted working hours – for both the employee and the business – and a lost opportunity. That’s why we’ve put together this article discussing how to change behaviour in the workplace with training initiatives, sharing six of the best pieces of advice to make a positive difference.
If you want to know how to change behaviour in the workplace, you should understand that training has to be designed to allow for, and encourage, the change. But how, and why is it important?
Perhaps the most important reason to encourage behavioural change at work is that it is one of the best indicators that training has been effective. If you’re an L&D manager or play a part in the training and development of some or all employees, seeing behavioural changes in a workforce is a great way to measure your success.
This is also a benefit for employees, as if the training they have undertaken has changed their behaviour, it means that they’re actively practising what they have learned, leading to an increase in the benefits that are experienced.
Behaviour change in the workplace is also important because it can help employees find more efficient and enjoyable ways of working. Whether this happens through workplace training or just behaviour modelling, you can have a positive impact on employee engagement by changing behaviour, which in turn leads to increased and higher quality output from your team.
Changing behaviour work workplace training starts with taking accountability. This means abandoning the belief that learning is a ‘tick box’ exercise and moving away from focusing solely on the number of learners completing the course regardless of the actual impact.
Instead, you have to put the learner at the front and centre of the training. Do that and you’ll create a training initiative that has the impact you want and an impact that the business can gain from, as well as being something that learners will actively enjoy and appreciate.
Here are six more tips to help you do just that.
If you take away anything from this article, take away this point: to get training to change behaviour you must address the learner’s needs. The way to discover these needs is through analysis.
Don’t just assume you know what your workforce should be learning – find out. Talk to employees and ask them what they’re trying to do, what they can’t do efficiently or effectively and then create or curate a solution that will meet their needs and provide the tools, insights, and information they require to fix their problem.
If the training meets the learner’s needs then it will be relevant. That is what makes it appealing, which in turn will help drive behavioural change. If learners need and want the training on offer, then they will use it.
Three words to strive towards with your training are compelling, constructive and convenient.
Bite-size learning ticks the convenient box, as it allows the learner to dip in and out as and when they need to. Informal learning is another approach – this can be a collection of resources they can browse through that will meet their challenges. However, if taking this approach, consider carefully how the resources are collated, as it can be overwhelming and unhelpful if they aren’t easy to navigate.
Making sure the training is relatable and relevant meets constructive, as it will truly help learners to get where they need to be. It also helps tick the compelling box, as anything relevant and useful immediately becomes more compelling. But compelling can also be met by considering how the training is designed and built – is it interactive, interesting, or challenging?
Sometimes, L&D professionals can get so caught up in the training part that they forget about the other two important aspects – pre-training and post-training.
In pre-training you work to get the learners on board with the training sessions ahead. You can address their barriers – common examples are a lack of time, or belief that it isn’t relevant – and build up their intrigue around the training itself.
Pre-training is a great opportunity to get learners excited and convince them that the course will be valuable and can also be a time for them to ask any questions or concerns about it. Overall, this part of the training can be extremely powerful – if learners have bought into it before it happens, they’ll be more likely to go in with an open and ready mind and actually complete the training.
Post-training is all about cementing and embedding the learning to beat the forgetting curve. To do this, there must be time set aside to make sure the learner has understood the learning and can apply it to their role with confidence.
There are different ways of doing this, and it’s best to use a varied selection. You can have manager 1-2-1 meetings, use quizzes, share success stories and carry out exercises to make sure the training is being applied to their role – there’s nothing like ‘doing’ to help with learning!
Some training (but not all) will benefit from some of the latest technology, such as AR, VR and 3D graphics, which simulate real-life situations. They can be used very effectively in a number of different topics from customer support to complex equipment training.
These technologies allow the learner to learn, fail, and make mistakes, as well as repeat, repeat, repeat – all in the comfort of their own home, workplace or educational environment. It’s the repetition and learning from mistakes that makes them so effective as it really helps embed the learning.
Although training is helpful to the business and helps employees develop new skills, it needs to keep moving forward. Your employees are more likely to buy into training programs if they feel it’s part of something bigger, such as their overall career growth, a company-wide goal or a project deadline.
Younger generations especially like to know that training at work will help their career progression, and that it is truly beneficial to them. So don’t forget to highlight the wider benefits of the training too, especially if you can tie it into other initiatives or projects taking place at work.
When creating training, L&D professionals need to keep an eye on the bigger picture. It’s only when they look into the effects and see that the learning is influencing both the employees’ work and the businesses’ organisational metrics and results, that they will really see the value of putting in the effort needed to create training which truly changes behaviour.
You should aim to improve your training offering continuously by asking for and acting on feedback from your employees. This shouldn’t be a one-off thing; talk to the learners and see what worked for them and what didn’t and then take those findings and apply them to your next training program and make it even better next time.
Behavioural change is the practice of changing people’s or your own behaviour so that it is different to how they or you have behaved previously. In a workplace environment, behavioural change impacts how employees interact and conduct themselves at work, so implementing new behaviours is often done to help teams work together more effectively or productively.
On average, research has shown that it takes around two months to change behaviour. The type of behaviour that you’re trying to influence will impact this however; simple changes to the way that people work might be picked up quickly, whereas changes to deep-rooted behaviours will take a lot longer to have an impact.
Behaviour change techniques are methods and activities which help to implement new behaviours into a routine. This can involve training, goal setting, counselling, self-reflection and progress monitoring.
Knowing how to change behaviour in the workplace can be a significant challenge for managers and those who are in charge of learning and development. The benefits of behavioural changes at work are significant so it is worth pursuing, especially if you’re looking to make a significant and long-lasting impact with your workplace training.
To discover more tips and insights into developing a compelling and behaviour-changing L&D programme, download our reports on The Evolution of L&D, Creating Training to Suit the Learner and The Importance of Investing in Your Learners.
Alternatively, if you’re looking for workplace training courses that will help create behavioural change, take a look at our Personal and Professional Development and Leadership and Management online training courses.