If you think back to your school days, you’ll probably remember several students who just found learning challenging. Maybe you had a friend or sibling who needed more help or maybe you were the one struggling.



Even though these days are over, the same situation happens with learning in the workplace. Some employees have more difficulty than others picking up new concepts, passing eLearning courses, processing large volumes of information, or even feeling confident in their knowledge.

This doesn’t mean these employees are incompetent. They just need some extra support to overcome these challenges. While using a combination of learning techniques is essential for creating a top-notch corporate training program, there are specific tactics that work to remove particular learning barriers. Here are some suggested solutions for the top four learning challenges we hear about on a regular basis:

Learning ChallengeSolution
Fear of Failure

Employees who fear failure often try to avoid training: arriving late, sitting at the back of the classroom, or procrastinating as long as possible before starting eLearning sessions. Whether they’re afraid of having their learning challenge discovered, afraid of looking stupid, or even of losing their job, training sessions create high levels of anxiety for these people.
Gamification provides a fun environment for weaving learning into in non-intimidating games. Game-based incentives like points and rewards encourage everyone to participate, promoting friendly competition between individuals, departments or locations. From accounting professionals to warehouse workers, gamification makes learning more fun and fires up employees’ enthusiasm for continued learning.
Test Anxiety

While some employees might be quite capable of learning, they freeze up when they have to a take formal test. The anxiety can be so severe that it undermines their ability to pass a course, which only furthers their frustration and impacts their confidence. This can be particularly difficult when their role require certification testing.
Repeated retrieval is a technique that uses testing as a way of learning rather than as an evaluation tool at the end of the learning process. Through this technique, employees are asked to answer a few questions on specific topics every day. They see the same questions more frequently to begin with, then with lessening frequency over time. Because they are forced to recall the answers to the questions repeatedly, this helps them embed them into their memory. And because employees don’t receive a ton of questions all at once, this creates a low-stakes environment where no question is a “make or break” situation, significantly reducing anxiety. Plus, instead of cramming for certification exams and forgetting the info soon after, this technique helps employees retain knowledge over time so they can actually use it on the job.
Overwhelmed by Volume

While some employees readily participate in lengthy learning sessions and provide verbal assurance that they’re having no problems, inside they’re feeling completely overwhelmed. There’s so much information coming at them, which often isn’t presented in a way that makes sense to them. So, they end up having a higher than average incidence of abandoned courses and often do poorly in testing. But because they’ve been hiding their learning challenges for some time, they’re usually adept at providing believable excuses for poor performance and why they need help on the job.
Microlearning is a learning technique that breaks content into small, manageable chunks. Employees receive training in short, bite-sized bursts (from three to five minutes), several times per week, or even daily (instead of through a single hour- or day-long session). Neuroscientists have determined that we can only absorb four to five pieces of information into short-term memory at any given time, so by breaking it up, it’s easier to understand and assimilate. Because the sessions are so short, learners are never overwhelmed with too much information at one time and hardly even realize that they are also being tested on their knowledge.
Lack of Confidence

Often learners don’t believe they know the subject matter well when, in reality, they know their stuff like the back of their hand. Because these people don’t think they have their facts straight, they hesitate to make decisions or take necessary actions on the job. This lack of confidence can have negative consequences at work, particularly if they are paralyzed at critical times (e.g. dealing with a safety threat).
Confidence Based Learning measures the correctness of a learner’s knowledge as well as their confidence in that knowledge. Research by Dr. James Bruno, a Professor of Education at UCLA concluded that it’s the fusion of knowledge and confidence that leads to appropriate behavior, and empowers people to act.

Confidence based learning forces employees to carefully consider their responses to questions and rate how well they think they know the answer. If they indicate they have medium or low confidence in their answer and find their answer is correct, this helps them build their confidence and encourage them to take the correct actions at work.

While learning solutions are typically geared to satisfying the needs of mainstream employees, it’s important to pay attention to those facing learning challenges. The key is to create learning that they will embrace, helps them build knowledge and confidence, and allows them to continue progressing.

Laura Martin

Author: Laura Martin

Laura loves nothing more than to roll up her sleeves and dig in. She’s a process person: give her a blank slate of a business and watch as she takes it from obscure to renowned—and beyond. It’s exactly what she did when she launched Axonify’s strategic marketing efforts and put the company on the map. As VP of Marketing Laura’s a big part of why we’re so personable and charming, and her verve fuels our push to shake up the learning space with leading-edge thinking.

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