I love learning. I’m that annoying, front-row sitting, ask-the-teacher-questions-after-class kind of student. I wasn’t always this way – thanks calculus – but I’ve discovered that learning can be freeing and inspiring, able to unlock possibilities for greater growth and achievement. I’ve also discovered this holds true for employee learning programs.
Having been around almost as long as payroll, employee learning has evolved into a key imperative of organizational communications. It can vary in deliverable (skills development) or sophistication (technology facilitation), but its core benefits remain constant: increased employee productivity, work quality, retention, engagement and satisfaction.
Throughout my time as a student, assistant professor, and finally course creator and instructor with the W2O Group, I’ve found the road to achieving these benefits begins with a key distinction: Education vs. Training.
While often thought of interchangeably, Employee Education and Employee Training have distinct goals, value propositions, applications, approaches and metrics. Here is an overview:
- Employee Education: furthering awareness of key perspectives, concepts, guidelines and effective behaviors … think conceptual appreciation
- Key Measures: qualitative metrics around awareness, understanding and potential application across different situations
- Employee Training: establishing and enhancing capabilities … think proficiency in application of skills and processes
- Key Measures: qualitative metrics around comfort levels; quantitative metrics reflecting increased output/productivity and decreased costs
As a further example of this distinction, the following table shows how agendas might vary between education and training courses – in this instance, on the topic of Measurement:
The differences here can be subtle. But at a high-level, you’ll notice Education addresses broad, macro concepts, while Training focuses on specific actions and establishing behaviors. While both are valuable, they each require distinct approaches, instructors, materials and objectives to be successful.
So when deciding upon learning initiatives to improve your organization’s productivity and employee engagement, look at the goals you’re trying to achieve and see if they fit more closely with education or training. This distinction can be the difference between achieving your goals and missing the mark.