Performance support is a critical part of any successful learning and development program. No matter which type of training your company is planning on implementing, providing learners with a strong support system will increase retention and engagement. As organizations continue to move to hybrid work environments, the task of creating a seamless performance support system becomes more difficult. Taking a whole-learner approach means employees have support when they need it, both in the office and at home. There are a few key efforts your organization can make to maximize performance support effectiveness while working in a hybrid environment.
When building an effective performance support program, you’ll want to keep in mind three primary principles: Learning by doing, continuous learning, and learning on demand. If you’re able to provide your learners with these three resources, you’ll be off to a great start in creating a positive learning culture.
Learning by doing: Employees learn best when they have support on hand while completing real-world tasks. Learning by doing is a form of performance support that can take place throughout the learning process, depending on what type of training you have implemented. Instructor-led training, blended learning programs, and various other synchronous formats should provide learners with the support they need while they are learning new skills, how to complete tasks, etc.
Continuous learning: Continuous learning should provide development opportunities for employees that extend beyond training itself. A great example of this is a microlearning approach. Supplementing your primary training sessions or modules with shorter, more agile programs can help foster continuous growth for learners. Keep in mind that continuous learning can’t be too overwhelming for employees; creating a solution that gives them flexibility and avoids burnout will lead to better results.
Learning on demand: Perhaps the most well-known form of performance support, learning on demand is built on providing resources to employees that can be accessed at any time. Often, employees need to know a specific skill or process while in the flow of work, and it can be unproductive and difficult for them to find answers from coworkers, SMEs, and management. Building in digital resources that can be quickly and simply accessed by employees will save your organization time and eliminate confusion and disorganization.
With thousands of corporations choosing to transition to remote and hybrid work environments, your current performance support system may need some tweaks to stay effective. Most importantly, you need to ensure that resources previously available to your employees in print are now accessible online. If you had a strong performance support system in place for in-person work that is now collecting dust on a shelf, move quickly to replicate that resource digitally. If you’re not sure where to start, a performance support technology transformation strategy will get you headed in the right direction.
If performance support is a new concept in your organization, now is a great time to build the perfect solution correctly. Consider two different types of performance support development: A comprehensive program or a solution-specific approach.
- Comprehensive program: A more complete approach to learning and development performance support, a comprehensive solution should be a single resource bank that supplements all your learning programs. Large organizations often benefit from this strategy because it allows L&D to be scalable, accessible, and a constant part of professional development in the workplace. Not to mention, performance support systems typically have quicker rollout times if there is already a framework in place.
- Solution-specific approach: The main objective of a solution-specific approach is to provide supplemental resources for a specific learning program. Contrary to a comprehensive program, this solution is designed for and implemented alongside a specific learning and development solution. This option works best if your organization doesn’t have an extensive L&D plan in place or prefers to budget and allocate resources at the time of the specific project as opposed to planning funding allocation for the future. The main benefit of this solution is its lower cost and flexibility, as it allows you to build specific solutions for each learning project without the overhead of a complete system.
Once you have a performance support system in place, it’s important to understand new needs that employees have in hybrid work environments. While performance support was an important part of in-office work, it is an absolutely critical piece of hybrid work. Employees are now dealing with figuring out how to learn, collaborate, and complete tasks in a new environment that may not suit their needs. Here are some tips to keep in mind when developing a successful performance support program for you organization.
- Understand the needs and preferences of your employees. Performance support only works if you are providing learning with resources they will actually use. Some employees will prefer a human point of contact as support, whereas others will find it more beneficial to have online resources they can access quickly at any time.
- Provide clear guidance in times of need. Many organizations were thrust into the complex, intricate world of online work with no plan in place. There are still lingering aspects of this new work environment that may be challenging for employees. Performance support can be used to give employees the exact information they need to continue to perform in their role.
- Give your employees opportunities to learn outside of L&D programs. Performance support systems are a great way to create a continuous learning environment within your organization. Providing the correct resources for your employees can create an environment in which they look forward to development opportunities.
The vast majority of employees in 2021 enjoy the flexibility, safety, and comfort that remote work provides. In fact, some research has shown that employees perform better and are more efficient when they have the option to work remotely. With a proper learning and development performance support system in place, you can ensure employees have the resources in place to stay effective and efficient.