What Is Employee Directed Learning?

By February 19, 2018L&D

What Is Employee Directed Learning?

Employee-directed learning is a learning model by which employees are responsible for the direction and details of their learning, rather than the traditional “employer directed” learning model.

With employee-directed learning, employees are given the freedom and responsibility to diagnose their own learning needs, and the flexibility to act accordingly.

Employer Directed Learning Vs. Employee Directed Learning – An Example

Imagine you have a training budget of $500 per employee, with an objective of increasing efficiency in their day-to-day roles.

A typical employer-directed learning programme would define (at least):

  • Which employees will receive training
  • Which courses each employee will be attending.
  • Which books, resources and guides each employee should be provided with.
  • When and where employees should attend the courses and training sessions
  • How employees will be measured on their newfound knowledge
  • Any follow-up activities to take place after each part of the programme

A basic self-directed learning programme would simply define:

  • How much budget each employee should receive
  • Any restrictions on how employees can spend their budget

The difference in approach is significant, so some more “traditional” employers are reluctant to relinquish control and give employees the freedom to choose their own learning paths.

But there’s no need to choose either self-directed learning or employee-directed learning. Many companies opt to maintain a traditional employer-directed learning programme whilst also setting aside a small budget for self-directed learning activities.

What Are The Benefits Of Employee Directed Learning?

More engaged employees

Employees taking part in an employee-directed learning programme report higher engagement with their learning than the more traditional counterpart. This is fairly self-explanatory – employees feel a sense of ownership when choosing their own resources, rather than simply taking part in a “tick box” exercise.

Learning is achieved on a deeper level

Traditional programmes have a tendency to “scratch the surface” and provide “surface learning” because of their “one size fits all” nature. With employee-directed learning, employees are free to explore areas that they find particularly engaging, achieving a much better depth of knowledge.

It creates a learning culture

Instead of creating an “us vs. them” culture, employee directed learning helps foster a culture of enablement and progression. A culture of learning helps to attract and retain the most curious and motivated individuals, making your business even more effective.

Resources you wouldn’t have thought of

Unless you’re an expert in all areas, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recommend the optimal books, courses and resources for every individual discipline in your business. This is where the magic of employee-directed learning comes in – employees are free to spend on the resources they find the most useful (and interesting).

What are the drawbacks of employee directed learning?

Employee-directed learning is most suitable for curious, intellectually motivated individuals who wish to become the best at their craft. Self-directed is therefore better suited to some professions more than others – it is particularly successful in sectors such as tech, marketing and professional services.

Employee-directed learning programmes can fail if employees don’t have access to the right resources or find it difficult to ask for resources.

How do I set up an employee directed learning programme?

A platform like Learnli can help you set up a self-directed learning programme.

Simply sign up, add team members and allocate a budget to each employee and approve requests as they come in.

Ready to set up a learning and development budget your team love to use?

Get a demo of Learnli.

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