Motivating reflection habits and raising employee awareness of learning

Date31 March 2020
Published date31 March 2020
AuthorMichele Rigolizzo,Zhu Zhu
Subject MatterHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Motivating reflection habits and
raising employee awareness
of learning
Michele Rigolizzo and Zhu Zhu
Department of Management, Montclair State University,
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Purpose While research has shown reflection is a valuable part of individual learning, developing reflection
habits has remained notoriously difficult, particularly for working adults. We explore whether an intervention
of being able to review previous reflections will affect employee engagement in future reflection activities and
raise their awareness of learning opportunities at work.
Design/methodology/approach We conducted a large-scale field experiment, including 136 employees
from an international bank in Europe, in which participants were asked to reflect twice a week for eight weeks.
Participants were randomly assigned to either a group that was given access to their previous reflections, or a
group that was not.
Findings We found that individuals who were able to see their previous reflections wrote significantly more
subsequent reflections than the other group. In addition, those who could see their previous reflections used
more words related to learning and cognition.
Practicalimplications Often employeesmay feel they are only learning when they attend formal trainings.
However, this paper provides concrete guidance for how human resources management (HRM) managers can
boost employeesinformal learning and awareness of the learning opportunities inherent in challenging work.
Originality/value This study furthers research on usingHRM interventions to facilitateinformal learning
activities, in particular, methods to motivate systematic reflections and raising awareness of learning
opportunities.Our findings suggest that developing habits of reflection and improving awareness of learning
opportunities encompasses more than simply writing reflections, but should include processing previous
Keywords Reflection, Informal learning, Reflection habits, Workplace learning, Learning opportunities
Paper type Research paper
Adult learning researchers have long noted that reflection is a key component of deep
learning, specifically referring to learning as a cycle of action and reflection (ONeil and
Marsick, 1994;Sch
on, 1983). The needto step back and reflect is critical because action without
reflectioncan lead to problem-solvingthat is temporary, ineffectiveand even damaging, rather
than finding ways to solve the problem so that it remains solved(Argyris, 1976, p. 368). In a
review of theimpact of systematic reflection, Ellis et al. (2014) argue that reflection can increase
both self-efficacy and a learners motivation to revise knowledge structures.
Unlike most learning, which seeks to increase efficiency in performance, reflection is an
exercise in slowing down and bringing tacit knowledge to light. From a Dual Process Theory
perspective (Evans, 2007), where cognition, decision-making and reasoning have two modes
or systems of processing, reflection is the attempt to move information from the more
automated subconscious knowledge structures in System 1 thinking to the slow, conscious
and deliberate thinking characteristic of System 2. The idea is to reframe ones situation such
that information and cues are brought into conscious awareness for critical evaluation.
However, reflection tends to focus on past events or one-time events. There is a gap in the
awareness of
The authors thank Teresa Amabile, Amy Edmondson, Ethan Bernstein, and Katie Flanagan for their
help and guidance in this research.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 15 November 2019
Revised 15 January 2020
Accepted 6 February 2020
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2020
pp. 161-175
© Emerald Publishing Limited

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