“Zone-ing” in on Employee Learning and Retention

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Imagine overhearing these two sentiments: “OMG.  This job is soooo boring.  I sit here all day long and never learn anything new.”  Or, “I am beyond frustrated.  I have way too much work and no training.  This is just not worth it.”

Employee dissatisfaction (and the desire to look elsewhere) is directly linked to workplace boredom and/ or frustration.  Knowing about the educational principle, Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), can help employers train effectively, resulting in increased motivation and job satisfaction.

What is the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)?

ZPD is the difference between what a learner can learn without help and what he or she can’t do at all.  In other words, it’s that learning “sweet spot” where learners can learn with some help.  For example, imagine teaching a child to learn to read.  Their ZPD might be found using a book they can mostly read on their own, but not entirely.  Having a bit of a challenge (with some words they don’t know) is ideal so they will grow in their reading skills.

The ZPD concept was introduced by Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky who believed that education should provide children with experiences in their zone of proximal development to best advance their individual learning.  For a child learning in a classroom, concepts should be neither too easy nor too hard.

Once a student’s ZPD is determined, a teacher can provide assistance until the learning can be done independently.

ZPD Applied to Business

In the business world, using the ZPD principle means first being aware of employees’ current skill levels and how well their jobs match their skills.  Are they ready to learn more?  If they have mastered their current position, match them up with a mentor who can teach them new skills on a regular basis.

On the other hand, can you identify an employee who is struggling with frustration or confusion?  It may be as simple as offering a few hours of assistance or training to get them to that learning/ working “sweet spot.”

ZPD can also help with employee training and development.  Everything from creating training materials to scheduling professional development opportunities is affected by ZPD.

Beyond this, one can consider a customer’s ZPD.  How much does the customer need to know (on the website for example) to make a decision?  Is the language or explanation too difficult, too simple, or just right?

The educational principle, Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), can maximize employee learning… and your bottom line.

Finding the learning “sweet spot” and constantly developing employees’ skills is key to retaining satisfied employees.  At Artemis Consultants, we can help determine how closely skill sets match employment opportunities to find jobs that fall into the zone of proximal development.

As expert recruiters, we can help you find a qualified candidate to hire “in the zone.” Contact us to set up a free consultation to find out how.

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