The purpose training is to change employee behavior in the workplace, and only true learning results in behavior change. However, learning is not an event but a process, and changing behavior requires more than surface learning objectives and a one-time training event.

Here are some strategies that can help you change employee behavior in the workplace:

How Can L&D Teams Identify the Right Approaches to Drive Change in Employee Behavior in the Workplace?

Employee behavior is what drives the success or failure of any business. Company culture is made up of the small everyday actions of employees, and as they say, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

Without changing employee behavior, training is in vain. It results in wasted time spent in eLearning modules or in face-to-face and virtual classrooms. It’s a waste of time for the people who consume the training as well as the people who design, develop and deliver it.

Learning and development (L&D) teams should look beyond training delivery and seek to modify employee behavior in the workplace. One way to begin this process is to identify the behaviors that drive key business metrics and results. Training solutions that seek to change employee behavior in the workplace are focused on learning outcomes aligned with those desired behaviors.

L&D teams can work with key stakeholders and subject matter experts (SMEs) to compare desired behaviors with current behaviors and identify performance gaps. Once they have identified the correct behaviors, they can develop training solutions to promote them. Next, L&D professionals, working as performance consultants, can collaborate with stakeholders to identify the most effective actions to modify employee behavior. It might be as simple as a job aid in each employee’s inbox or as complex as a blended program that includes messages from the executive team and live classes and workshops, followed by microlearning nudges and reminders of the desired behavior change.

We know that high-performing employees consistently demonstrate behaviors that drive key business metrics, tactics and strategy. Using learning strategies that modify employee behavior in the workplace can mold high-potential employees into high-performing employees. However, creating an environment that drives healthy behaviors lifts the performance of not just high potentials but all employees, even low-performing ones.

What Are the Key Strategies That Enable Behavior Change?

In any endeavor to improve employee behavior in the workplace, starting with the “why” is vital. When employees understand why their behavior should change, they’re more willing to learn and practice new procedures, practices and innovative ways to accomplish corporate goals.

Here are five strategies that will help you successfully change employee behavior:

1. Experiential Learning

In experiential learning, employees are immersed in simulations, role-plays and case studies, creating an atmosphere that is conducive to behavior change. Experiential learning gives employees a safe place to practice new behaviors, identify where they need additional practice, receive feedback and practice again.

2. Feedback

Feedback is vital to any effort to modify employee behavior. Without feedback, employees don’t know when their behavior is incorrect. Managers, supervisors, change managers, training teams and coaches all play a vital role in the feedback loop.

3. Follow-up

After receiving feedback, employees should have the opportunity to follow up, ask questions and try again. Employees who can iterate are more likely to achieve desired behavior changes.

4. Nudges

While active coaching and feedback is useful, small nudges throughout the flow of work can also be effective. Strategically placed microlearning opportunities can serve as reminders for employees, helping to modify their behavior. Short videos and infographics shared through email or a corporate social learning platform will also refresh the behaviors learned in formal training.

5. Modeling

Modeling by executive sponsors and champions serves as an effective method of changing employee behavior in the workplace. When combined with microlearning, follow-up messages from leaders will remind employees of expected behaviors and can help modify norms, reward appropriate actions and reduce undesired behaviors.

All these actions lead to new behavior that rewires the human brain, creating new neural pathways that lead to better habits. Once the behavior becomes a habit, it is engrained in employees’ day-to-day actions.

What Learning Strategies Can You Adopt to Drive Behavior Change?

There are several strategies that lead to behavior change, including:

    • Microlearning, formal training, nudges, practice, feedback and experiential learning are all a natural part of a learning and performance ecosystem.
    • Within the learning and performance ecosystem, microlearning and mobile apps create a social learning space, which serves as positive reinforcement for correct behaviors.
    • Mobile learning, especially for employees in younger generations, is an effective way to continue learning experiences and enhance behavior change. Mobile apps, in particular, can strategically nudge and remind employees of desired behaviors and can be used for gamified learning opportunities as well.
    • In a healthy learning ecosystem, blended learning solutions that incorporate coaching and mentoring serve as an additional nudge to change behavior.
    • Cohort learning, or learning in small groups, creates additional accountability for employees as they seek to improve their behavior. Learners within cohorts can serve as peer coaches, following up with each other, providing support and giving feedback.

Modifying employee behavior should be the goal of any training solution, and the strategies and practice articulated here will help accelerate that change.

Want to learn how you can use a learning and performance ecosystem for employee development? Take a look at this infographic, which will show you how you can use the ecosystem to lay a strong foundation to support employee learning and performance improvement.