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The Different Employee Learning Styles

By tailoring the delivery of content for different styles of learning, your employees will be more engaged with the new content at hand, resulting in a more productive learning session. Who wouldn't want that?
Published 11 Nov 2019
4 min read
The Different Employee Learning Styles

Learning and development is a crucial part of creating a high performing team. We all know that professional training results in increased productivity, employee engagement and happiness, but have you ever thought about the way your team learns best?

Everyone processes information differently and it’s no different when we learn. With no two people the same, it’s important to acknowledge the different employee learning styles of employees in your team. By tailoring the delivery of content for different styles of learning, your employees will be more engaged with the new content at hand, resulting in a more productive learning session.

Why should you tailor your training to the learning styles appropriate for your team?

When you effectively train your team specific to their preferred style of learning, they’ll be more engaged in the learning process. By knowing the learning style of your employees, you can play to their strengths and allow them to learn in a way that is easily digestible for them. This means that they’ll be on their way to actioning what they’ve learned in no time at all.

At your next training event, take a closer look at your team. You may notice some people are actively participating in the discussion and writing notes, whereas others are disengaged and on their phones. The latter may not find this presentation style of learning effective, however, they may respond well by reading the handouts or slide deck afterwards.

There are 4 main types of learning styles, but many people overlap with two or even three styles. The different styles of learning are based on the VARK method.

The VARK method includes visual, auditory, read and write and kinaesthetic learning styles. This method acknowledges that everyone processes information differently and therefore requires different forms of delivery to learn.

How can you encourage employees to take part in a specific style of learning that’s suitable for them?

  • Let your team know that they have the option to learn based on their own learning style and that you will accommodate their needs.
  • Actively talk about the different learning styles in your workplace and provide some information about the options available.
  • Ask your employees which learning style they prefer. This could be in the form of a survey or 1-1 meeting.

What are the different employee learning styles?

Learning styles

Kinaesthetic Learning

Kinaesthetic learners prefer a hands-on approach to learning and this involves using all five senses – touch, sight, smell, sound and taste. They learn effectively when they perform the task themselves and enjoy sessions that include group-based participation.

Kinaesthetic learners typically find it harder to learn when sitting through a lecture, however, learn more deeply when a hands-on task is involved.

With kinaesthetic learners, it’s important to break up long employee training sessions into smaller, more digestible components. To help maintain the focus of kinaesthetic learners, you should change the learning environment for each of these sessions by moving to different rooms or going outside. Who doesn’t enjoy some fresh air?

What are the characteristics of kinaesthetic learners?

  • They find it hard to sit and learn in a traditional ‘classroom’ environment
  • Learns through movement
  • Likes to build things and is very hands-on
  • Becomes restless when sitting down
  • Physically coordinated and typically good at sports

Examples of using kinaesthetic learning include:

  • Demonstrations
  • Simulations
  • In-person scenarios

Visual Learning

Visual learners understand tasks and content by watching something prior to trying it themselves. They respond well to visual stimulus and learning materials, and use visual elements they’ve seen to recall information.

In the workplace, this could involve a demonstration of a task, such as watching how to use a cash register and then trying it themselves.

What are the characteristics of visual learners?

  • They are often creative and can easily visualise complex situations
  • Find using graphs, mind maps, flashcards and flow charts helpful
  • Find taking notes a helpful way to retain information
  • Easily distracted by aesthetic or visual environments

Examples of visual learning strategies include:

  • Instructional videos
  • Photographs
  • Diagrams, flowcharts and flashcards
  • Timelines
  • Highlighting notes and key information
  • Colour coded notes and learning material to create visual stimulation

Auditory Learning

Auditory learners understand information when it is explained in a step-by-step format.

They learn best when instructions are given and active conversations around the content are had. Not only this, they learn best when they talk things through with others or actively listen to others speaking either through a lecture, discussion or presentation.

What are the characteristics of auditory learners?

  • Respond well to verbal instructions and find them easy to follow
  • Gain an understanding of the task at hand by talking it through
  • Speak well and are often good at presenting
  • Find it difficult to concentrate when there is distracting sound in the background

Examples of auditory learning include:

  • Lectures
  • Audio recordings
  • Group discussions
  • One on one meetings

Read and Write Learning

Read and write learners learn by reading content or instructions and then writing it out in their own words. They’re well organised, avid note-takers and digest information when they write down and re-read information.

What are the characteristics of read and write learners?

  • Writes notes when reading through learning material
  • Enjoys reading and writing
  • Often uses lists and categories to organise their notes

Examples of read and write learning include:

  • Reading learning material and writing notes
  • Ordering tasks or learnings into categories and level of priority
  • Asking your team to read over notes and condense key information down to one page.

By being aware of the different employee learning styles, you can create a training program that is suitable for all members of your team. The benefits? A more informed, engaged and well-equipped team that can tackle anything!

Man saying let's get to learning

Want to learn more?

For more ways to assist with learning in the workplace and to find out what motivates your employees, download our free ‘What Employees Want’ whitepaper below.

Download now

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