6 tips: Boost development and growth with stretched learning

Do you focus on development and growth for employees in your company? Good! It has never been more important. Are you also struggling with making it more efficient? Learn how to boost your development and growth of employees by using methods of stretched learning.

In this blog post, we dive into the state of development and growth today, and we show you how you can use stretched learning to drive your company’s development and growth to better results and happier employees.

Why development & growth is important

In a survey conducted by LinkedIn Learning 94 percent are willing to remain at the job if the company invests in their careers, so if you want to retain employees you need to focus on development and growth. In the same study, respondents point out that the biggest barrier to developing oneself is the lack of time to learn new things. Millennials definitely tops in this, and since they will be one third of the work force in 2020, attracting and retaining this generation is very relevant.

development and growth

Development and Growth is an important stage in the employee journey.

If companies doesn’t meet the employees’ expectations, they are more likely to leave. While HR leaders recognize this, time seems to be the worst enemy of achieving great development and growth. Recent research shows that HR leaders prioritize improving operational excellence. However, only a third of the combined workforce agreed that they got the new skills that are in demand.

Basically, leaders and employees say it is hard for them to find time to learn. Finding the time to learn and nurturing a learning culture is absolutely relevant. However, even if there is a learning culture in the organization, there still needs to be a good way of learning that is adjusted to the employee and easy to administrate. This is where stretched learning comes in. 

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What is stretched learning and how do you work with it?

Stretched learning is a way of carefully spreading learning material over time. This gives the employee the opportunity to catch, grasp and reflect upon specific learnings and use it in practice before moving on to the next step. Below, we have outlined the elements of stretched learning and how to use it.

1. Have one or maximum two learning goals per activity in your learning

Above all, stretched learning helps you avoid ’learning overload’. Too many goals overload the employees, which increases the risk of ineffective learning. Or no learning at all. If you give the employee one or two goals to focus on, a better outcome will follow.

2. Make room for reflection after every learning activity

“Busy is the new stupid”. This is what Bill Gates and Warren Buffet stress in their talks on the importance of time. When you learn something new, you also need time to digest it to be able to develop with it. Consequently, this anchors knowledge and sets a greater fundamental understanding for further learning. So make sure you give employees time enough to reflect on their learning.

3. Make it clear where to get support

As the employee is given room and time for reflection, sparring, new input and discussions upon the learning is fundamental to anchor the knowledge and spread it among other employees. In short, to support this, make it clear for the employee where he or she can get support.

4. Schedule the learning aligned to context

Plan your learning and make sure the scheduled learning fits the learning context and not when the HR and management want it to be according to the calendar. Think about your topic. Is it comprehensive? Is it urgent? Plan the learning is this context. If the topic is comprehensive, schedule the learning over a longer period. If it is easy to grasp, schedule it for a shorter period. It’s a great idea to look into using learning flows, read more about it here. 

5. Split learning into smaller, varied pieces that are easier to consume.

In Japanese organizational philosophy, you find the term “kaizen”, meaning continuous improvement, and companies like Toyota are famous for this. Kaizen focuses on the small steps you take to constantly become just a little better. This is just like stretched learning.

By splitting your learning into smaller pieces and variations, you create a steady and much better tangible learning experience. If you are looking to enhance your learning content read our tips here!

6. Make room for practical usage of the new learning.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” While the famous word by Abraham Lincoln emphasizes the value of preparation and learning new skills to produce better, stretched learning emphasizes the need of practicing the usage of new learning along the way. There’s a sense of learning by doing in this. In other words, giving employees the space and time to evolve, and room for trying out solutions and make errors in practical usage, are crucial to the effectiveness of the learning you provide.

As a result of this, we’re able to essentially grow better by combining new knowledge with the practical activity of using it.

Because of a fast-moving and ever-changing world in organizations and businesses, our challenges are not only seen at the demand for new learning.

Development and growth take time, and stretched learning can definitely help you. But you never know the correct amount of time unless you take the goal and context of the learning into consideration. In summary, by applying stretched learning in your company, you not only foster attraction and retention. You provide much more effective learning that creates results on the bottom line. 

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