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3 practical tips to ace inclusivity in corporate training programs

3 practical tips to ace inclusivity in corporate training programs

To demonstrate effectiveness, training programs must be diverse and inclusive. But when it comes to employee training, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for every unique workplace or training environment. That’s especially true with individual contributors—some are naturally more reluctant, while others gladly embrace new ideas and concepts.

Online and remote training methods introduce new ways to incorporate new tools, like a digital learning management system (LMS) to boost inclusivity. And according to Pew Research Center, 56% of employees want to prioritize inclusivity efforts in the workplace. 

The question for employers is tricky—how can you encourage collaborative learning among all employees, while at the same time, boosting the efficiency of your training programs overall? 

Let’s tackle this challenge by addressing how to build more diverse and inclusive training programs that cater to the needs of different learners.

Setting a foundation—how to build an inclusive training program

Before we introduce training fundamentals, it’s important to understand what inclusivity really means. Although there are plenty of definitions and perspectives out there, the Center for Creative Leadership offers a helpful definition:

“Inclusion is when everyone feels welcomed, respected, and valued. It’s a common part of organizational mission statements. But it’s also a profoundly personal experience.”

By creating inclusive training courses and programs, you can engage all trainees in a memorable and useful learning experience. This process also means designing content that prioritizes personal growth, development, and values.

Fortunately, there are several tools and strategies for creating a more inclusive training program, regardless of whether you’re instructing a large enterprise group or offering niche training to a specific team or department. From the materials and channels you use, to the way that you encourage interaction and collaboration among peers or managers, there are plenty of ways to foster more inclusivity in corporate training environments. Let’s explore some of them.

1. Start by setting the “rules” of inclusivity

First things first, inclusive training must always begin with an inclusive approach. This refers to how you, the instructor, relate to your learners and how they relate to one another. To make sure everyone feels comfortable during training sessions, establish a few basic ground rules for inclusion. The most important one is that learners respect one another.

Because large organizations often hire many employees from unique cultural backgrounds, it may seem difficult to integrate everyone into one cohesive training program. To ensure all learners feel welcome, encourage basic inclusion by:

  • Accepting other people’s opinions regardless of their race, nationality, or religion;
  • Refraining from jokes or comments that are offensive (racially or gender-wise)
  • Cooperating with any colleague when assigned group tasks

Maintaining a sense of respect and dignity during training

Even as adults, learners could make mistakes or violate basic inclusion principles without realizing it. A joke or a comment about certain cultural stereotypes or gender biases can negatively impact the workplace, causing low productivity and self-confidence issues. Redirecting and getting back on track is always the goal.

Be willing to have a private conversation with any learner who might be engaging in non-inclusive behaviors. If an employee has made offensive comments, politely and candidly tell them how others might have perceived those remarks. Also, kindly ask them to refrain from similar comments in the future.

Furthermore, to make it clear that you emphasize inclusion during training, highlight the ground rules at various times throughout the course. 

Gathering input from diverse populations

To ensure that your procedures and “ground rules” are widely accepted by all participants, take time to solicit and gather feedback from diverse populations. It’s wise to do this throughout the training process, from development, to implementation, and beyond.

Remember—new perspectives give you the tools and insights you need to build effective and inclusive training in the first place. Special call-outs or gratitude moments during your training sessions can also help under-represented groups feel seen and heard.  

Read more: Talent development for better Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

2. Diversify your course format

Effective and inclusive training must incorporate a variety of course formats. Although traditional in-person training is still relevant, the move to remote learning has introduced the popularity of blended or hybrid training. Luckily, there are many ways to overcome the challenges of hybrid training.

In a digitally-powered working environment, it’s no surprise that more than 89 percent of employees want access to training materials anywhere. Delivering inclusive training depends on being able to offer this kind of flexibility and adaptability. 

To optimize your company’s training environment, combine the best of both learning worlds—digital and in-person. Meet trainees face to face for short sessions whenever possible. This move helps promote collaboration, relational wellbeing, and active participation among the learning group. Simultaneously, rely on digital materials to fill in any gaps in learning, or to give attendees more options for incorporating training around work responsibilities.

Gamifying learning content plays a role

To further incentivize your training programs, you can also gamify certain elements to make them more motivational and engaging. Ask learners to complete certain challenges, earn skills badges, or acquire new job-related skills through gamification.

Audio and video elements also play a role when it comes to diversifying your delivery methods. One method is to speed up learning by presenting an audio version that complements written course materials. In this way, trainees can complete courses faster and move at a more independent pace. Plus, you might be able to proactively assist learners who have cognitive challenges or reading impairments

Read more: Top 3 gamification techniques for your business training

3. Challenge trainees with practical and collaborative tasks

One in three employees considers their organization’s training outdated. Unfortunately, that’s because many trainers stick to what they know best, rather than what would serve modern learners and employees. But practical, responsive instruction is one of the most inclusive ways to prepare learners for developing new skills.

Practical learning can make a deeper impact, while promoting greater knowledge retention. At the same time, acquiring new skills through practice enhances employees’ job-related capabilities, which is exactly what organizations need for sustainable growth. Plus, practical training is more engaging and often involves teamwork—a natural way to boost inclusivity.

Here are a few tips for making your training more inclusive through practical learning and application.

Assign collaborative tasks during training

A positive, collaborative learning culture can ensure that everyone feels welcome at your company, and in your specific training sessions. With socialization comes a greater sense of belonging and community, which can indirectly improve work satisfaction and employee retention.

Learning and development can play a pivotal role in enhancing team collaboration. To make sure that it does, assign practical collaborative tasks during training sessions. For example, if you’re conducting marketing training, divide learners into several groups. Then, assign an imagined “client” to each group. Ask the groups to create realistic buyer personas by working together and brainstorming new business ideas.

To make exercises like these truly inclusive, make an effort to group team members together who may not already know each other, or work together. It’s even possible to create groups remotely, and it may even boost engagement in virtual training classrooms.

Ask trainees to deliver short presentations

Another way to make your training more inclusive is by letting trainees take the lead.

Ask each learner to share their knowledge (both personal and professional) to the broader group. To do this without putting individuals on the spot, you can use short presentations that you announce before they’re due.

For example, in each training session, one participant would be expected to conduct basic pre-research and talk for five minutes about that day’s training topic. By introducing low-stakes participation and contribution, you can encourage independent learning, socialization, and even a safe way to practice public speaking.

Engage trainees in career-based roleplay

Plenty of corporate training programs focus on key topics that drive the business forward, including customer retention and satisfaction strategies. There are dozens of topics to choose from in a niche like this, including effective sales tactics to conflict management.

In scenarios like these, trainees learn what they should reasonably do in anticipated customer interactions. But if those learners don’t have the opportunity to put new knowledge into practice, they might face daunting challenges when it’s time to put those skills to the test at work.

To better equip and empower your learners, take a practical and collaborative approach. For example, teach learners the primary conflict mitigation techniques of your business. Instead of merely asking them to complete a quiz to assess their understanding, divide them into pairs and give them a live role-play test.

By using this strategy, each person plays two roles: the customer and the support agent. After the first pairs complete the exercise, pair trainees with a different person. By rotating through partners and real-life business scenarios, instructors can successfully increase cooperation, improve inclusion, and assess trainees’ knowledge and practical abilities.

Prioritize reflection and feedback

As you give learners new hurdles to jump through during training, remember to pause and reflect. Focus on continuous feedback mechanisms that help trainees give real-time feedback on how practical assignments made them feel.

This step could be a normal part of your regular assessment and evaluation methods. To get started, you can ask participants important questions like:

  • Which practical situation or challenge was most relevant to your job duties?
  • How well were you able to learn when partnered with a fellow classmate?
  • Did you feel like any of the career-based roleplay assignments were inaccurate? Why?

Unless they’re asked directly, many training participants won’t know whether it’s safe to share their genuine experiences. Offering a well-supported feedback loop is one of the ways to keep inclusivity a focus, even as you develop new courses or programs in the future.

Read more: Online training practice in synchronous and asynchronous settings

Final thoughts on inclusivity in training programs

An inclusive training environment is one in which all learners feel welcome and comfortable sharing their ideas. Every training program has the potential to achieve inclusion—from its design, implementation, and feedback processes. 

Ultimately, how you promote interaction and respect within the training group is one of the biggest ways that learners will feel supported or not.

Ready to design and automate training programs that have inclusivity and human connection built right into the platform? Get started with CYPHER today.