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5 min read

Consider Adult Learning Strategies When Creating SOPs

Consider Adult Learning Strategies When Creating SOPs

Whether pursuing career advancement or having the desire or goal to acquire new skills, adult learning strategies require tailored approaches to the learning process that recognize their unique needs, preferences, and challenges.  

For organizations looking to increase the knowledge of your workforce, there is an opportunity to enhance your learning content. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) help share your company’s “best way” and share insights and information with employees.   

You can tailor SOP process to the specific needs of your adult learners within your organization. Keep reading to learn how.  

What is Adult Learning? 

Adult learning is the practice of adults acquiring new knowledge, skills, values, or attitudes through educational opportunities.  

Why is Adult Learning in the Workplace Important?  

Lifelong learning is highly valuable, especially in the workforce. Upskilling and reskilling the workforce is essential to stay competitive in your industry. Investing in professional development and adult learning initiatives is beneficial for both employees and organizations.  

Benefits of the adult learning journey in the workplace include:    

  • Increased job satisfaction and employee retention. Organizations that promote learning experiences create a supportive work environment with opportunity for growth. This culture leads to more engaged employees who feel valued and are more likely to remain loyal to the company.   
  • Increased productivity. Continuous learning equips employees with the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to complete their jobs more effectively, leading to higher productivity in the organization.  
  • Better decision-making. Expanding your knowledge leads to new ideas and perspectives on situations. With these critical thinking skills, employees are enabled to approach decision-making with a more informed and analytical mindset.   
  • Reduced skills gaps. Employees gain the knowledge they need to meet evolving job requirements through ongoing training and development programs, giving them the opportunity to increase responsibilities in their roles.   
  • Improved customer satisfaction. When employees are trained well, they have a deeper understanding of the company’s products or services offered and have better techniques for delivering exceptional customer experiences.   

Benefits of adult learning strategies in the workplace

What is Different About Adult Learning Strategies?  

There are a few key characteristics of adult learners, such as years of prior life experience and previous knowledge as well as a higher level of self-directedness.   

The adult learning environment and strategies typically revolve around the needs of adult learners through flexible learning formats and a higher sense of autonomy. Collaborative and social learning is also used more frequently to help leverage diverse perspectives and experiences.  

For adults navigating work, family, and personal growth, simple and effective learning strategies are essential tools for success.  There is a need for tailored approaches to different learning styles when implementing adult learning strategies and teaching adult learners.  

Examples of Developing SOPs with Adult Learning Strategies in Mind  

By keeping adult learning principles in consideration when creating SOPs, organizations can create procedures that are engaging and ensure long-term retention of information. These approaches empower employees to apply their knowledge effectively in real-world situations and help to encourage education in their preferred learning style.  

Here are a few examples and different techniques of how you can develop your organization's SOPs while keeping in mind some adult learning strategies.  

Incorporating Experiential Learning  

While SOPs are written documents outlining an organization’s steps and best practices, sometimes just reading a procedure doesn’t allow information to truly sink in. There are opportunities to take an SOP and incorporate experiential learning.  

Experiential learning is an adult learning strategy that involves real world examples. After creating an SOP, try walking through with employees to ensure they have an interactive experience. For example, if you have an SOP dedicated to “How to Take a Customer Order,” walk through the entire procedure with an employee from the initial customer interaction to placing the order within the system. Or you could even have a newer employee shadow a more experienced employee while they perform the tasks outlined in the SOP. Either way, the employee can learn through hands-on learning experiences.   

By integrating experiential learning into SOPs, organizations can ensure that employees not only understand the procedures but also develop the practical skills and confidence needed to execute them effectively.  

Leveraging Microlearning Modules   

Adults are busy and need bite-sized pieces of learning content to take in. Microlearning modules are small units of information designed to deliver specific, focused information to learners in a short amount of time.  

To offer microlearning opportunities within your SOPs, try writing shorter documents and steps. This is also a perfect chance to properly break out your documentation into process, procedures, and work instructions 

Every day we hear from potential clients struggling with a 500-page PDF that combines policies with procedures, making it near impossible for employees to search and find what they need. They find our structured content approach appealing. Zavanta “chunks” the content into separate sections that can be managed like data, improving search, consistency, and maintenance.  

Breaking out documentation in this way allows employees to more specifically find the information they are looking for at the moment of need, rather than wading through pages and pages of operational documentation with too much information that may not be relevant.   

By leveraging microlearning modules into SOPs, organizations can streamline training processes and improve confidence and performance in employees.  

Fostering Collaboration and Peer Learning  

Sometimes the best tools in your organizations are your people, especially those that have been involved in the day-to-day operations for a long time. Peer learning is when people can learn new information, behaviors, attitudes, and skills through the past experiences and knowledge of others.  

SOPs are a great way to systematize knowledge sharing within your organization. Encourage your subject matter experts to share their institutional expertise by writing the SOP draft and involve them in the review process. A written SOP is the best way to ensure critical knowledge doesn’t walk out the door when an employee leaves or retires.  

By fostering collaboration and peer learning through SOPs, organizations can leverage the collective expertise of their workforce to drive innovation, enhance efficiency, and improve overall performance.  

Customizing Learning Resources and Access 

Giving people a variety of learning resources and navigation paths to those resources is a great way to implement adult learning practices.  Those resources might include position guides, FAQs, video libraries, and SOPs segmented by roles, areas, or divisions. Some employees need resources on paper while others need everything online.  

Employees can quickly access information relevant to them in the way they need it. 

For example, one of our insurance clients' segments their processes and SOPs by product line. There is some content common to all and then information specific to each product. In addition to the narrative, they’ve included videos and images to support visual learners.  

Organizing SOPs and supporting resources by audience type increases employee engagement and performance.   

Embracing Continuous Assessment and Feedback  

How can you know if you’re moving forward in your own learning progress and goal setting without an evaluation? How do you know if employees are understanding and using the SOPs your organization is producing?  

Assessments and feedback are critical adult learning components and essential for building a culture of continuous process improvement.  

We recommend using an SOP software solution with these components built in. Attestation, quizzes, feedback surveys, and checklists ensure that employees are understanding and using critical SOPs. These tools also help management track progress and flag improvement opportunities. Data analytics and reports give managers valuable insights into where employees need more help. So be sure to include these in your system.  

By incorporating continuous assessment and feedback into your SOPs, organizations empower employees to perform at their best. Managers have a system for continuous improvement.  

Discover How Zavanta Facilitates Adult Learning Strategies  

Zavanta is an SOP software solution that makes it easy to incorporate adult learning strategies into your policies and procedures.  

The platform includes user-friendly features like testing and quizzes, attestation with eSignature, feedback surveys, usage analytics, and more. The employee portal links all knowledge assets together and gives a diverse audience a variety of navigation paths.  

Unlike do-it-yourself approaches, your SOPs won’t just sit on a shelf. Instead, they become a valuable business asset driving employee performance and compliance. 

Contact our team today to learn more.    

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