What does it mean to support diverse learners in the workplace?

Group of diverse learners

For a business to create an inclusive organisational environment – i.e. a safe place without prejudice – it’s essential that they offer all employees the right diverse learning opportunities, tailored for them and their specific requirements.

Successfully building an equitable workplace culture goes hand-in-hand with raising awareness of diversity. So, let’s take a look at what it means to support diverse learners in the workplace:

What is a diverse learner?

Diverse learners are people, or groups of people, who have a variety of distinguishing factors, situations, circumstances and experiences which set them apart. These can be categorised into two broad areas: personal differences and personal challenges.

Personal differences, for example, could encompass things like gender, socio-economic, cultural, language, industry, job role, and seniority – all of which would require different learning content to suit. A prime example of catering for personal differences would be a business with a high proportion of workers whose first language isn’t English; they may benefit from additional learning content that helps to enhance their English speaking, reading and writing, and/or learning materials in their native language.

Personal challenges, on the other hand, can include each individual’s learning style, their technical ability and ease of accessibility e.g. the time and place they’re able to most easily learn. These challenges will require different approaches to help solve i.e. remote workers or field-based staff should be able to learn at their own pace, at a time and location convenient to them, as opposed to having to come into the office (which may not be geographically possible for some).

Diverse learning is separate to the three key learning styles

Kinaesthetic learners take in information best by having a hands-on experience, such as learning to ride a bike or painting a picture. Auditory learners prefer information they can hear; verbal instruction, audio revision and recorded lectures are all ideal. And visual learners learn best through images and videos.

These three learning styles are most common when it comes to which format to deliver training content in, but in truth, learning simply isn’t so by-the-book. It is, by its very nature, diverse.

Diverse learning needs a new training approach

There’s no longer room for a one size fits all approach to learning – it’s not even a one size fits one approach either, as it would be almost impossible to offer a completely bespoke learning offering for every single person. In fact, today’s learning needs to follow a ‘many sizes fits many’ framework. In other words, there needs to be a range of learning options available where a mix of teaching styles and delivery options exist to suit a mix of learners, helping to promote participation and engagement.

Naturally however, this will be different from business to business, and even more difficult for remote or hybrid businesses too, so having effective communication will help each business to determine the unique make-up of learning provision their workforce requires.

In a traditional working environment, training sessions are planned with the “average” person in mind. This makes it easier for the physical trainer to deliver their learning content but limits the learners to only being offered one way to consume that information.

Training diverse learners takes a more sensitive approach, ensuring that all learners are included, valued and respected, no matter their personal differences or challenges.

Why learning needs to be inclusive, for learners and business

It’s important to project an accepting and caring mindset to learners; this can be done in a number of ways, such as creating time for collaboration, and teaching advocacy where the learner becomes their own biggest supporter when they see themselves succeed.

Ultimately, for the learner, it’s essential to provide support and establish a coherent framework so no matter their diversity, learners feel included and their learning needs and desires better served.

For the business, the overall benefits of having an inclusive learning strategy will be many; allowing for better collaboration and communication, building a strong sense of unity and inclusion throughout an organisation and embedding a one-team mentality.

It helps to promote an internal culture of being stronger together, and by including everyone as an equal part of the work family, the business as a whole will be able to attract the best talent, come up with new, innovative ideas, bring in fresh perspectives and insights, and mitigate against bias with a well-rounded workforce.

The key to being able to do this is to get to know your workforce and develop an awareness of their needs so you can build a learning strategy to suit. And don’t forget, as your team and their needs change, make sure you update your diverse learning strategy too so it always stays relevant and effective.

At BuildEmpire, we’re the platform provider to help, as we’re focused on delivering solutions that not only meet your learning and business goals, but exceed them.

Through the bespoke solution we can build for you, we can help you take learning from a have-to-do to a want-to-do.

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