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  • Writer's pictureKathy Miles

Holistic Learning

Updated: Nov 6, 2021

Holistic Learning

Having worked in the learning and developing industry for my entire working life, I can honestly say that “holistic” is not a term that I have ever heard associated with learning in the workplace.

However, ask a learning professional what the purpose of training is and these are the type of answers you will get:

  • To increase knowledge;

  • To upskill employees;

  • To increase employee engagement and motivation;

  • To develop our leaders;

  • To assist employees to retain necessary information;

  • To encourage team building and a positive workplace culture;

  • To meet compliance obligations; and

  • To increase productivity.

If we expect training to do all of these things, then my view is that organisations need to take a holistic approach to learning.

Holism is about seeing something in totality, rather than fragmented.

Too often workplaces are using a fragmented approach to learning.

Need to tick a box that people have completed Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) training?

Great – let’s roll out an online course.

Want to improve customer service? Send everyone to a training session.

How many times have you completed an online course and just clicked through it without actually taking in the information? Or even worse, had your manager hand you the answers so you can just click through it quickly!

How many times have you been to a training session or workshop and had little to no follow up?

No matter how fantastic the course or facilitator was, without follow up the learning is too quickly forgotten when you get back to the reality of a busy role. Without follow up and linkage back to the organisational strategy (why you are doing the training), you are just training for training's sake.

Holistic learning is like music, each note is good on its own, but when you combine them all together into a song, it is even better. Each note combined together strengthens the tune and gets you closer to an award-winning song!

I have always believed that learning is about a series of touch points. The more you focus on training a particular topic, the more knowledgeable and skilled a person becomes with that topic.

If OH&S is a major focus in your organisation, then this should become a major focus in all aspects of your business. As an example, OH&S training for a new employee might look like this:

Week 1:

  • Employee completes an online OH&S Induction course.

  • Employee attends an OH&S instructor-led workshop where they are also introduced to the OH&S personnel within the workplace.

Week 2:

  • Manager conducts a one-on-one to show the employee where all the safety information is located both online and in the office.

  • Post-course work is sent out to employees who attended the OH&S workshop asking them a series of questions to check knowledge and asking them to complete a number of OH&S scenarios.

Week 3:

  • Employee has a one-on-one with their manager about safety in their team. The manager asks questions to determine if there are any knowledge gaps or questions that the employee has.

  • Employee is directed to and allowed time to watch some bite-sized training videos found on the organisation’s Intranet to fill any knowledge gaps.


  • Regular team meetings include a topic on health and safety at work where information is shared openly.

  • Organisation wide meetings which include messages about safety.

  • Annual safety workshops.

  • Refresher training (every 1-2 years) as needed.

When you are next organising training, think about that holistic approach and how you can support your formal training with other approaches for maximum retention, interest and impact.

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