Experiential Learning
Training & Learning

The 7 Best Experiential Learning Activities to Engage Employees

The term 'Experiential learning' (ExL) means to learn through experience. Quite simply, learning by doing.
Employees absorb and retain knowledge more easily through experiential learning activities, as many in the corporate world have realized. It can help with employee engagement, and it’s just more fun. As the famous saying by the Chinese philosopher Confucius goes: 'I hear, I know. I see I remember. I do, I understand.' 

In this article, we’ll walk you through seven easy activities you can put in place to introduce experiential learning into your workplace.

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8 top experiential learning activities 

1. Role play

Role playing provides a comfortable environment for employees to face numerous scenarios to make and learn from mistakes.  It uses real-life circumstances to imitate experiences, difficulties, failures, and outcomes. This method instills confidence, improves skills, and encourages individuals to solve problems creatively. 

Role-playing can be as simple as having a trainee take a mock phone call from a tough customer. Or it can be developed to assist employees in grasping certain work issues from a new angle. A client service manager, for example, can pretend to be a customer, or a manager might pretend to be an employee to get a sense of how their responses would affect others.

2. Games

You can also create experiential team-building opportunities through outdoor activities and hands-on games. There are lots of team-building activities that can be played in the workplace, providing participants with a fun and dynamic method to bond and learn to work together. 

Most importantly, many team-building games are both enjoyable and educational. Crossword Puzzle, Office Trivia, Shark Tank, and Powerpoint Karaoke are some of the games employees can play that give challenges tied to certain skills, goals, and outcomes. 

Powerpoint Karaoke
Powerpoint Karaoke is just one way of using games as experiential learning opportunities.

Team problem-solving activities is also excellent practice that teaches the importance of clear communication, cooperation, and the ability to listen.

3. Case studies

We all know, most people learn better through real incidents than from theories.

Case studies are based on real-life circumstances in a certain firm or business to provide strong, real-life examples that build on fundamental ideas. 

Case studies can be presented in various ways, allowing participants to respond to open-ended questions, brainstorm solutions, or examine facts. Attendees might get crucial insight on the behaviors or activities required to effectively deal with similar situations in the future by studying past experiences.

4. Simulations

Simulations can be used to assess skills, adapt instruction, and allow employees to apply what they've learned. Participants have the opportunity to practice specific skills and make errors in a safe atmosphere. Simulations' adaptability makes it a useful tool for training and preparing participants for expected and unexpected scenarios.

5. Problem-solving through gamification

The gamification approach can be an excellent problem-solving tool for businesses when used correctly. Gamification offers the capacity to perceive a problem from a different angle, providing a fresh viewpoint and improving the learner's critical thinking skills.

Learner engagement is quickly addressed to double up when the learner is placed to handle such real-life scenarios or elicit decision-making in the activity. It increases the learner's confidence in their ability to succeed in such situations before entering the actual world.

The United States Army is known for its well-designed training games. America's Army, a recruiting/promotion tool, is a good example of the same. Candidates can download the game and put their abilities to the test in a multi-player, true-to-life virtual setting.

6. On-the-job training (OJT)

OJT exposes staff to 'business as usual' situations that they will continue to deal with once training is completed.

Employees learn in an environment that requires them to apply their newly gained information and abilities. On-the-job training teaches employees to use current workplace tools, machines, documents, equipment, and expertise to perform their duties more effectively.

Amazon, for example, has amazing employee training programs. Prior to hiring, it offers a month-long training and leadership program. Amazon covers up to 95% of the cost of education for employees who want to learn in high-demand fields. They also train work-from-home employees through the "Virtual Contact Center."

7. Corporate philanthropy

Corporate philanthropy is one efficient strategy for your company to encourage experiential learning. Employees are more likely to participate in philanthropic initiatives when firms make it easy for them to do so, whether through matching gifts, corporate volunteerism, or other types of nonprofit assistance. It increases their level of engagement and helps them understand that every organization has a responsibility to the society in which they operate.

There are several approaches to encouraging your staff to participate in corporate philanthropy. Keep in mind that, as the employer, it all starts with you! To make it a win-win situation for everyone involved, you must join the mission, be visible, and promote the program.

Putting experiential learning into practice

Virtualization, cloud computing, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) are a few ways you can deliver, enhance, and accelerate remote experiential learning. One can also use simple synchronous and asynchronous tools for collaborative work, such as video calls, discussion forums, e-portfolios, interactive surveys or games for skill testing, and remote labs for experimental work. The role of technology becomes increasingly evident here.

The capacity to receive immediate, automatic feedback on performance in virtual environments—such as cloud-based games and tests—improves learners' understanding of their strengths and limitations, allowing them to self-improve. As they participate in the activity, the learner is encouraged to reflect on their performance, absorb what works and what doesn't, put their new skills to the test, and alter their behavior to get better results.

How to encourage experiential learning activities in your organization

  1. Determine 'why' you want to invest in experiential learning activities.
  2. Make sure that your employees have easy access to all resources that support all phases of the Experiential Learning Cycle. (Experiential Learning Cycle includes: learning by doing, reflecting, thinking, and applying what was learned.)
  3. Keep a strong feedback loop in place. 
  4. Encourage it as a part of company culture, not as a separate effort.
  5. Experiential learning is a lot about self-discovery. It would be great if you allowed them to connect their learnings to the world at large and not just limited to the workplace. 
  6. Experiential learning activities should not be the last stop of corporate learning. Instead, it should be a catalyst and a multi-step process towards the finest workplace experience

Incorporating experiential learning activities in your workplace is critical. And it is a significantly underutilized tool for improving employee experience. So, it's time that you allow your employees to practice, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and try again. Because as the saying goes, "You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and by falling over."