9 Ways to Increase Learning & Development in the Workplace
When it comes to increasing learning in the workplace many organisations immediately look at the cost and how it’s going to impact productivity. The return on investment seems to be the continuous question on every business owners lips.
But this should no longer be the question.
With data revealing that businesses with a strong learning and development program see a 218% increase in income per employee, the real question isn’t how you’re going to see a benefit, the question is this – How are you going to adopt development schemes that actually make a difference?
Continued learning matters to today’s workforce. 84% of today’s millennial employees want access to development and learning in their career. And it’s not just the demanding millennials that see this as an important attribute. In a national survey spanning across three generations, 70% of the respondents said that job-related training opportunities influenced their decision to remain at the company.
The facts are clear, and if you’re wondering how on earth you can adopt more learning and development within your company, I’ve revealed the 9 simple things you can begin to implement to help your team learn more in the workplace.
You may think that education in the workplace has to be extremely formal and laborious. But this outdated mindset of learning is not how many of us absorb information and often doesn’t stimulate our minds to think differently.
A simple, yet extremely effective way to encourage further learning and personal development, is to start storytime between colleagues.
Each lunchtime, one person does a talk about one of their passions in life. This could be anything from cookery, travel to rock climbing.
The idea of this is not only to make people more aware of those around them but as a human species, we learn the most when we’re being told a story. It enlightens us, informs us and opens us up to think differently. The very essence of what learning is really about.
2) Create a program
You may already be pushing your team to try and learn more – but let me guess, they claim they’re too busy to set aside a few hours a week to do some learning?
This is the norm in many organisations, as employees do not understand the benefits of further educations, and feel that it isn’t productive of their time. In their minds, it is more productive to get a project completed, than to spend a few hours away from their desks to improve a soft skill.
While you may be banging your head against a brick wall, the fact is, the flexibility you have offered them in self-development is actually a curse in disguise.
If you want to truly help your employees to spend dedicated time on learning and development you have to implement a calendar of structured events and workshops.
These could be on topics that the employees have requested, and by having them on a regular basis at a set time, they can diarise them into their schedule, and make it feel more meaningful.
3) Culture trips
Getting away from the office can prove highly beneficial in helping us to break out of bad habits and routines that stifle learning.
Instead, when we escape our daily confines and engage in something different, we can not only learn more from others but take part in experiences that shape our way of thinking.
As many organisations arrange fun company culture days, it is also important to organise days away that may help us with our job role.
This could include visiting manufacturers of the product, or visiting a client who is using your system or service. Learning more about the company and the industry, can provide informal learning experiences that enhance people’s understanding of their role, and enlighten them to provide feedback and new initiatives that the organisation has not thought of before.
4) Invite specialists
If your organisation is insular in its approach to learning it will not innovate or grow.
This often happens for a number of reasons. Whether it’s to manage costs or boost the brand awareness of those within the organisation. But this structure can work alone in the learning and development of teams because it constricts thought processes.
By inviting specialists to do workshops and talks you can improve your team’s knowledge on particular areas, and even boost their confidence.
It’s a similar addage as that of gaining praise from an outside source. When your mother gives you praise, you feel like she has to because she’s your mother. The same goes for those in senior roles in organisations, they can compliment you on your progression, but this can often feel half-hearted and somewhat of given.
Whereas the education and development from an outside source, can boost confidence in ability because it is not linked with any affection or relationship – it is praise on a purely academic level.
5) Provide more responsibility
Now I’m certainly not telling you to increase your employee’s workload, but what can prove beneficial in learning and development, is giving a small responsibility so that they can learn more about the workings of the organisation and gain further insight into the mechanics of how everything fits together.
To make this effective for the employee, discuss with them what they would like to learn more about within the company so that they feel that the task is both useful and fair.
6) Job swap
I have visited many organisations where colleagues sitting next to each other don’t even know what either one does in the company.
Many people start a role, without understanding how their role fits into the big picture, let alone understanding how everyone’s role plays a part.
When this happens both communication and engagement begin to take a dive.
However, job swapping for a day or even a week, can make a massive impact on learning and development, and enhance the teams understanding of each person’s roles and responsibilities within the company.
Providing an opportunity such as this can broaden awareness, increase understanding of role expectation, drive innovative thinking, and allow employees to discover other avenues that they could move into.
7) Entrepreneur activities
Commercial awareness can support any business, but this isn’t something that can be taught.
Business school doesn’t truly prepare you for business failure, or success. It’s the practical elements that make you think and realise where you’ve gone wrong and what you need to consider.
Many large organisations have taken on entrepreneurial competitions to drive their teams in learning and development because it works.
It allows employees to throw themselves into trying out that dream business, and along the way increases their commercial awareness.
Whether you wish to do it Dragon Den style, or simply leave them to their own devices, set a challenge for them to pitch and then create a business that needs to work. You may be surprised at how many of them take part and how quickly it enhances their thought processes.
8) Co-working projects
We learn as much from each other as we do from a book, so bringing people together to work on a project and manage it from start to finish can not only boost communication and teamwork skills but also dramatically improve confidence and business knowledge.
However, in order for this to work, you truly have to let go of any micromanaging tendencies and put complete trust and responsibility on their shoulders. If you cannot do this, the project will not be successful as they will not feel like they have true ownership.
Leave them to the project and set a deadline for when you would like it to be completed.
This is easy – What do your team want to learn about?
It’s great having a structured learning and development program that you’ve spent hours on, but if your team doesn’t care for the topics you’re putting on, it’s going to be unpopular and not benefit the team or the company.
Gain as much feedback as possible on the topics that mean a lot to your employees, and that includes things that aren’t related to your organisation.
The more you can stimulate them and support their passions the more invested they will be in remaining with your company.
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