6 Barriers to Virtual Workplace Learning and How to Eliminate Them

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Enterprise-wide learning is one of the most important responsibilities of training and development professionals. This makes it critical to find the right modality for optimal delivery of learning content. It also brings to light the various barriers that can get in the way of learning and fulfilling the requirements of the organization.

A better understanding of these barriers, or obstacles, can help in maintaining learner engagement and fulfilling the objectives of training programs for the individual learner as well as the organization. Here, we go over some prevalent barriers to workplace learning and the ways to eliminate them.

workplace learning

Resistance to change

A resistance to change is one of the common barriers to workplace learning. When corporate learners are told that their methods and processes need to change, some resistance can be expected. While resistance to change is particularly common among tenured employees, it is not uncommon for younger employees to feel the same way.

The first thing to understand is that resistance arises from a lack of knowledge. Often, employees believe that new processes will change the comfort of their jobs and their present situation. Therefore, creating awareness about how the new training will improve their lives and their jobs is necessary to deal with this barrier.

Change management exercises are handy as they create a non-threatening environment to voice their fear of change. Learning and development professionals must use a variety of tools and best practices to encourage employees to learn.

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Lack of Leadership Training

Leadership development is critical to organizational learning. Leaders who are equipped to guide learning efforts will boost morale, engagement, and the confidence of their teams. An inadequately trained leadership team can lead to poorly managed teams and chaos and even more resistance during periods of change. Managers need to be engaged with new processes or training as employees will most likely remain disengaged without them. When organizational learning and training programs are not prioritized from the top-bottom, it undermines the organizational objectives as a whole. 

Continuous training and development is key to ensuring that managers guide change and learning efforts effectively.

Presentation Problem

Poor presentation is one of the biggest barriers to workplace learning. Learning activities should be presented in the most appropriate and palatable way. A one-size-fits-all approach is the bane of engaging training programs. Incorporate practical learning activities and relatable scenario-based examples into your training. These activities engage users in active problem-solving and can lead to better cognitive engagement.

Learners are likely to participate in learning activities if they understand the objectives behind it. This makes communicating learning outcomes for the individual and the organization important.

Encourage and create discussion forums and online spaces for learners to interact casually. This will encourage learners to engage emotionally with the training process along with other learners.

For learner engagement techniques such as gamification of content to deliver expected results, it is critical that the existing strategy is in line with the goals and the needs of the organization. Overall, a culture of learning is integral to the success of Learning and Development at the workplace.

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Different Learning Habits

The current workforce includes at least three generations of learners, all of whom have a different relationship with technology. Naturally, this makes training bound to be less effective if all users of learning technology are assumed to be equally tech-savvy or to have the same learning habits.

Personalized learning can help overcome this barrier. This is because recommendations and learning playlists can be developed as per the learning requirements of individual learners. This keeps content appropriate and suitably engaging. Personalized learning also addresses skill gaps apart from ensuring that a rigid predetermined path is not forced upon all users.

Hectic User Schedules

Employees have a finite amount of time that has to be allocated to different facets of life, work, and leisure. A heavy workload and lack of protected learning time can impede workplace learning in many ways.

While allocating dedicated time for training, creating microlearning modules can also help in user time management. This approach helps to deliver useful and relevant content in bite-sized chunks. Users are free to engage with the learning material as per their will, whenever and wherever.

Effective and Timely Feedback

 The value and effectiveness of feedback in improving learning cannot be understated. It helps to guide learners through the training process and is as important as establishing learning goals. Research indicates that learners are most likely to benefit from feedback if they receive it before they move onto the next assignment. (Irons, A. (2008) Enhancing learning through formative assessment and feedback). 

Here are a few characteristics of effective feedback:

  • Makes learners understand what good performance means
  • Encourages self-assessment
  • Inspires positive motivation
  • Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance
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Identifying and addressing the barriers that prevent engagement in virtual learning programs can benefit both learners and businesses. It also improves the work culture by creating an environment of adaptability to better processes.

At Origin, we focus on bringing the latest developments in learning science and technology to enhance the effectiveness of instructional material.
Get in touch with us at info@originlearning.com to learn more about how we can optimize the learning experience of your users.


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