Training programs must be diverse and inclusive in order to prove their efficiency. More often than not, when it comes to employee training, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Some people are more reluctant to certain ideas while others gladly embrace them.
For example, many are already using online tools in day-to-day tasks. Hence, they have no problems with online and remote training. On the contrary, they find it easier to acquire new concepts via a learning management system (LMS) or other digital tools. However, you can’t expect everyone to share this view.
Some simply need direct contact with their instructors and peers to learn efficiently. Moreover, if asked to complete a digital course at their own pace, they often procrastinate. So, how can you get everyone on the same page and make your training more efficient?
Building a more inclusive training program
The answer is inclusion. By creating inclusive courses, you can engage all trainees in a memorable and useful learning experience.
There are many tools and strategies for creating a more inclusive training program from the materials and channels you use to promote interaction and collaboration. Let’s explore some of them.
Start by setting inclusive rules
First things first, inclusive training starts with an inclusive approach. And this refers to how you, the instructor, relate to your learners and how they relate to one another. To make sure everyone feels comfortable during training sessions, setting some ground rules for inclusion might be useful.
Large organizations often have a mixed make-up in terms of employees’ cultural backgrounds. This might make it more difficult to integrate everyone into the same training program. To ensure all learners feel welcome, you need some basic inclusion rules everyone should understand, accept and follow, such as:
- Accepting other people’s opinions regardless of their race, nationality, or religion;
- Refraining from jokes or comments that might sound offensive racially or gender-wise;
- Cooperating with any colleague when assigned group tasks.
How do you explain and encourage people to apply these rules without sounding offensive yourself? In the end, when training adults, it’s only natural to expect them to be respectful.
Nonetheless, adults make mistakes, often unknowingly. A joke or a comment about certain cultural stereotypes or gender biases can negatively impact the workplace, causing low productivity and self-confidence issues.
Therefore, don’t shy from having a private conversation with the person involved once you spot inappropriate behaviors. If someone made offensive comments, politely and candidly tell them how others might have perceived their remarks. Also, kindly ask them to refrain from similar comments in the future.
Furthermore, to make it clear that you put great emphasis on inclusion during your training, highlight the rules exemplified above or similar ones at the beginning of the course. Having them written down and included in the training material is not a bad idea either.
Diversify your course format
Effective and inclusive training incorporates different types of course formats. One of them is the traditional in-person course. However, the pandemic has made this rather difficult for the past two years. As a result, many instructors had to adapt to remote or blended training. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome the challenges of hybrid training.
Mastering both digital and traditional course formats are an essential part of delivering inclusive training. Moreover, this is increasingly important nowadays when 89 percent of employees want access to training materials anywhere, at any time.
This is due to how trainees perceive and adapt to different delivery methods. As previously mentioned, some prefer face-to-face learning, which allows them to interact with you and their colleagues. This type of instruction is more engaging as it promotes open discussions and encourages collaboration.
Nonetheless, in today’s digitized world, many people have long adapted to online learning. Numerous organizations provide online courses and allow employees to complete them individually, at their own pace, which is also effective because it provides a personalized learning experience.
To optimize your company’s training, you should make the best of both worlds. Meet trainees face to face at least for short sessions whenever possible to maintain collaboration and encourage active participation. Simultaneously, rely on digital materials.
In the end, we live in a world where every layman is used to acquiring new knowledge from YouTube. Why not encourage this preference? Learners will engage more readily with materials that appeal to them, such as videos.
To take things one step further, you can also gamify your training. Ask learners to complete certain challenges to acquire new job-related skills through games.
Audio materials also play an important part. You can speed up learning by offering an audio version for your written courses. This way, trainees could complete courses faster and focus on simple work tasks while learning.
Challenge trainees with practical and collaborative tasks
One in three employees considers their organization’s training outdated. This is mainly due to the prevalence of theory over practice – an approach many trainers stick to because this is what they know best. However, practical learning entails many benefits.
It creates a deeper impact and promotes better knowledge retention. At the same time, acquiring a new skill through practice enhances employees’ job-related skills, which is exactly what organizations need. Furthermore, practical training is more engaging and often involves teamwork, which improves inclusion.
Here are a few tips for making your training more inclusive through practical tasks:
- Assign collaborative tasks
Collaboration is key to making everyone feel welcome at your training and in your company. The more people socialize, the more their feeling of belongingness grows, boosting work satisfaction and employee retention.
Your courses can play a pivotal role in enhancing team collaboration. To achieve this, assign practical collaborative tasks during your training sessions. For example, if you’re training a Marketing team, divide the members into several groups. Then, assign a client to each one and ask them to create a buyer persona by working together and brainstorming ideas.
To make the exercise truly inclusive, try to group team members that don’t know each other very well or work in separate departments/offices. This exercise can easily be carried out remotely and it will boost engagement in virtual training classrooms.
- Ask trainees to deliver short presentations
Another way to make your training more inclusive is by letting trainees take the lead every now and then. Asking each learner to talk and share their knowledge and, why not, a bit about their personal lives will boost cooperation and inclusion. To do this, you can use short presentations.
For example, in each training session, one team member must do some research and talk for five minutes about that day’s topic. This way, you simultaneously encourage independent learning and socialization.
- Engage trainees in role-play
Many training programs focus on customer retention and satisfaction. There are dozens of topics in this niche, from persuasion techniques to effective sale strategies and conflict management methods. However, more often than not, these courses have a predominantly theoretical approach as well.
Trainees learn what they should hypothetically do in certain customer interaction circumstances. But they rarely get the chance to put the newly acquired knowledge into practice before dealing with clients.
You can change this by taking a practical and collaborative approach to your training. For example, teach learners the main client conflict mitigation techniques. Then, instead of asking them to complete a quiz to assess their understanding, divide them into pairs and give them a live role-play test.
Each person will play two roles: customer and customer support agent. After the first pairs complete the exercise, pair trainees with a different person. Thus, you increase cooperation inclusion and assess trainees’ knowledge and practical abilities.
An inclusive training environment is one in which all learners feel welcome and comfortable sharing their ideas. Instruction must be inclusive, especially in multinational organizations. Every training program you create should be crafted for inclusion. This refers to the materials you use, the teaching methods you incorporate, and ultimately, how you promote interaction within the training group.
Finally, to ensure you’re on the right path to inclusion, don’t forget to ask for learners’ feedback. There is no better way to advocate for inclusion than asking everyone to share their opinions on your training.
Ioana Solea has been working as an ESL and Italian language corporate trainer for over 11 years. However, her biggest passion is blogging. She covers different topics, from training and e-learning tools to online marketing.