Critical success factors for employment relations education initiatives

Information and guidance for providers on critical success factors for ERE initiatives.

The Employment Relations Education Ministerial Advisory Committee (EREMAC) commissioned evaluation research on ERE courses, and subsequently organised a two-day conference on “Evaluating Workplace Learning: Identifying Success”. These two events provided us with clear guidance on how to make courses and other education initiatives successful in order to achieve learning outcomes and build productive relationships in the workplace.

Pre-course/initiative factors

Right people

  • Be clear who the course is intended for (type of organisational role, type of prior learning experience or not, etc).
  • Actively encourage line manager support of participants.
  • It would help to have a critical mass (ie more than one person) attending from each workplace.

Right information

  • Provide pre-course preparation material in order to allow the course to focus on making learning relevant to actions in the workplace.
  • Collect background information from participants (eg reasons for attending, challenges they might anticipate in implementing the learning, learning experience, etc.) and have the facilitator/educator build on this.

Right targeting

  • Have a title for the course which clearly conveys either its content or its desired outcome.
  • Clearly target the course, not only to get the right people, but also to quantify the benefits to the individual and the workplace (and so encouraging line manager support).
  • Consider developing the course collaboratively with a trade union or an employer group.

Course or initiative delivery factors

Delivery mechanism

  • Ensure that the delivery mechanism (conventional course, online learning, DVD, text, mixed methods, etc) matches the desired learning outcomes and quality standards.
  • Consider delivering the course jointly with a trade union or an employer group.

Relevance and reality

  • Use of real scenarios enhances relevance, and facilitates action planning.


  • Opportunities to share experiences, ideas and concerns, and activities which help participants to identify how they can use the learning when they return to work.


  • It is very important to plan for the learning to have impact back in the workplace, therefore do action planning or similar processes to really integrate practical ways to use the learning back at work, including strategies to overcome barriers.

Post-course/initiative factors

Realise the benefits of ERE

  • The realisation of potential benefits to both the individual and the workplace should be followed up on at a later date – either by the ERE provider, or by the participant or by the workplace (could be set up as part of their buy-in prior to the ERE).

Workplace support

Resources, time and encouragement

  • Often needed for participants to realise on the ERE. This needs to come from line managers (see pre-course), and from workmates.
  • For example, a letter from the education provider to the relevant employer and/or union official to say that the person has taken part in the educational initiative and to suggest activities to capitalise on their learning in the workplace.

Opportunities to apply learning

  • Immediate workplace opportunities to use and share what has been learnt are important.
  • Expectation or incentive to apply the learning is also helpful.

How helpful was this information?

Still haven't found what you're looking for?