I recently came across an article in the Harvard Business Review which cited a study that found that only 12% of employees apply new skills learned in training and development to their jobs. The article focused on lean learning: how it can help organisations make the most of their training budget, improve learning retention and empower employees to gain real, lasting value from the training they do.

What is lean learning?

Like launching with a minimum viable product, lean learning is identifying the core of what you need to learn, and focusing on that. What is really useful for you to learn for your role? What skills do you or your team need? It means approaching learning and development with a focus on retention: regular review, applying learned skills quickly in the real world, receiving immediate feedback and adjusting accordingly.

It’s ensuring that employees “not only learn the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons, but also that they retain what they learn.”

How to apply lean learning at your organisation

The principles of lean learning will help you spend your training budget more efficiently – and spend your employees time spent learning more wisely – which means more focused and better training for your team, and happier and better-trained employees who have the skills they need to do their job well.

Here’s how to apply the principles of lean learning at your organisation:

Make sure training aligns with employees’ needs

Before you start lining up training for your team, assess what they need. Speak to your team, or carry out a skills matrix exercise to identify where the gaps are and how you can fill them.

Make retention a priority from the beginning

Build retention into the training itself, rather than making it an afterthought. Before you start planning training, think about how you’re going to ensure it sticks. This might look like planning one-on-one coaching sessions after the training, to address any questions your team might have – or backing up in-person training with online content that employees can go back to review when they need to. We often pair face-to-face training sessions with access to our online academy, where delegates can go back to review online versions of the sessions (and other related courses) at their own pace.

Encourage your team to learn in a way that works for them

There are some broad-brush skills that are useful to everyone in an organisation, but often, more targeted topics and methods of learning are a better use of training resources. Instead of signing your whole organisation up for a workshop that only applies to 10% of the team, think about how you can offer more flexible methods for learning. Many people learn best by doing, and immediate feedback helps them to adjust and absorb what they’ve learned in real-time. Others might benefit from learning in smaller chunks: microlearning courses or audio versions of training sessions will give them the opportunity to learn during breaks or while out walking.

Lean learning on the Evolve Online Academy

We’ve been delivering corporate training and coaching for almost 25 years, and we’ve found that a targeted, flexible approach with a focus on retention is the best way to guarantee good learning outcomes.

We don’t work in a one-size-fits-all way with businesses: we tailor the support we offer based on organisations’ particular needs. We look at their goals and plans, where the gaps are in their team, and how we can address them in the most efficient way. We offer packages of in-person and online training, one-to-one coaching, and access to our online academy that allows teams to learn long-term.

We can create bespoke online content to go alongside in-person training or coaching, so businesses can give their teams access to the online content to watch, re-watch and review at their own pace (and even their own speed – they can watch at half-speed or in double-time).

We offer a range of course lengths, from in-depth toolkits to short 10-minute microlearning courses focusing on a particular skill.

Including corporate memberships in a package of business training allows employees continued access to the learning content, from videos to PDF downloads and audio recordings of sessions, so that they can review what they’ve learned or refresh their skills when they need to. We often hear of delegates pulling up the course videos on their phone to review before a meeting or presentation!

You can view the Evolve Online academy content here, or get in touch to talk to us about how we can help you make the most of your L&D budget with lean learning and a tailored package of support.