July 05, 2022

Employee Training and Development Thrives in the Struggle

Sam Caucci

Your team is looking for employee training and development opportunities. They want to better themselves and lay a solid groundwork for their future. Great! Let’s set everyone up, and we’ll all sit down and get trained. 

But studies show that received learning isn’t the strongest teacher. The best employee learning is what’s done on their own and involves struggle.

Struggle in Learning

It might sound counterintuitive, but struggle is an essential part of learning and retaining new information. If we are not struggling, we are not learning. Making mistakes is an integral part of the learning process. So, if we make it harder, people learn better. 

But there’s a trick. Your employee has to believe they’ll learn from their mistakes. The employee has to believe they’ll eventually achieve their goal.

Adding Struggle

In a recent study, one group of schoolchildren were asked to toss a bean bag at a target three feet away. A second group was asked to toss the bean bag at targets two and four feet away. At the end of the test period, all the children were asked to throw the bean bag at the target three feet away. 

Surprisingly, the second group beat the first. The second group, who never once chucked a bean bag three feet, beat the group practicing at that distance the whole time. What’s up with that?

Apparently, the second group learned way more about tossing a beanbag than the group that only tossed the bag three feet. The second group, who had the more difficult overall task, developed more myelin in their brain. The brain physically changed to increase the speed of its internal communications around the task of throwing a beanbag.

Struggle In Employee Training and Development

So, when a task is more complex, we learn better. What does that mean in the workplace? How can you help employees learn to “toss that beanbag?” How can you add struggle to their tasks?

There are four strategies for using productive struggle to increase learning effectiveness:

1. Retrieval: Forgetting is an essential part of learning. It helps the brain avoid overload. However, consistent review tells the brain to make these signals more permanent. 

2. Interleaving: Interleaving is the practice of weaving different and related topics and learning them together. This process helps master an overall skill. For example, the two and four feet approach to beanbag-throwing helped the children learn more about throwing in general. The three-foot throw became easy.

3. Spacing: Distributing lessons over time is the most effective way to learn.

4. Mindfulness: Meditation has proved to increase the amount of myelin in the brain. Myelin, again, helps us think faster. Being present in the moment increases learning effectiveness.

Makes a lot of sense, but applying these techniques would prove to be a daunting task. How could we intentionally apply these techniques to various employee training and development plans?

Gaming the Struggle Does the Trick

A gamified training platform will make increasing employee learning rates much more straightforward. And that’s where 1Huddle comes in. 1Huddle takes your content and spaces and interleaves it to create an effective learning struggle. 

1Huddle tracks every entry. The app notices if your employee struggles with a particular type of question. It will offer that question up more frequently, giving the employee more chances to get it right.

1Huddle also adds the element of competition into the learning process—more struggle! But, also, an element of fun. And having all this learning power in your cell phone makes the process more convenient. And a heck of a lot more fun. 

All of these features are part of the 1Huddle package. Your team hardly needs you at all. Or do they?

What About Believing They’ll Master the Skills?

You can do many things to foster a learning environment. You can create an environment where meditation and mistakes are welcome and part of learning. But you can also influence your employee’s belief in themselves.

In a study at Stanford, students were split into groups, asked to write an essay, and then sit down for extensive feedback on their work. In this study, the second group differed in only one way from the first. They were told they were getting the feedback because the teacher believed in them. The second group did substantially better the following year at school. Specifically, the children of color.

So, that’s where you come in. You can tell your employees you’re doing all this because you believe in them.

If you’d like a demonstration of how easy it is to set up a state-of-the-art education plan in the palm of your hands, contact 1Huddle today.

Sam Caucci Founder & CEO at 1Huddle