6 Ways to Support Continued Learning Among Your Team
Getting a job doesn’t mean a person is done learning — in most cases, it means they’ve just begun. While they’ll certainly pick up skills as they take on a new job and different tasks, there’s a lot more that can be learned.
As an executive, manager or even as a team member, you can take several steps to promote continued learning in the office. Some will require a financial investment, while others only need a bit of organization and employee interest to get the ball rolling. Either way, they’re positive changes that’ll make everyone happier, smarter and more skilled.
1. Start a Mentoring Program
Every company comes with a hierarchy of staffers, managers, and bosses. These different levels allow you to start a mentorship program, in which a more experienced employee helps shape and guide the career of a newer staff member.
Not only does this supply the newer worker with skills and workplace wisdom unattainable elsewhere, but it also creates closer relationships between employees who might not have had a bond beforehand. Their friendships will only make the business stronger as a whole.
2. Provide Opportunities for Growth or Change
Happiness in the workplace has been shown to lead to a 12 percent increase in productivity. One way to cultivate a sense of on-the-job happiness is by creating a work environment with variety and flexibility. As a bonus, these situations promote continued learning, too.
For example, employees who have the opportunity to make lateral moves to new departments won’t necessarily move up the corporate ladder, but they’ll learn a new role and the skills required to succeed in it. Promotions allow for learning, too — any new position will require candidates to brush up on their pre-existing skills while picking up new ones.
3. Offer Continuing Education Credit
When it comes to higher education, Americans see the value in enrolling: 84 percent of people in the U.S. believe it’s crucial for getting ahead in life. In the workplace, offering continuing education is a clear way to stoke learning among employees, too.
You might offer a more specific list of courses that apply to your industry. Some employers will pay for certification courses to make their employees more knowledgeable, too. On the other hand, some companies leave the door open by providing credit for classes without any caveats. Staffers can try their hand at everything from economics to Chinese to guitar, which will keep them learning even if it’s not necessarily work-related.
4. Organize a Book Club
In most cases, a book club would be an out-of-work activity — a group of friends would gather to discuss a particular novel that they had all read at the same time. However, you can use this concept to help employees hone their knowledge while on the job, too.
Choose a book that has valuable skills for professionals, and make that the center of your conversation. There’s plenty of literature on everything from productivity hacks to sales strategies — you can choose a subject based on your team’s focus. Give everyone a week or two to make their way through the selected piece outside of work. Then, everyone can gather at lunch to eat and discuss the book and how they’ll implement its tactics in real life.
5. Schedule Lunchtime Speakers
In the midst of an eight-hour workday, your staff is undoubtedly going to take a lunch break. Why not give them the opportunity to hone their skills while chowing down?
A brown bag lunch brings everyone together to soak up a bit of wisdom, whether the speaker is from inside or outside of the company. There are so many potential topics to cover that would continue staff learning: Everything from 401(k) investment tips to speed reading could make a speech that’s both interesting and informative. Because employees will learn something helpful in their professional and personal lives, they won’t feel as though a speaker during lunch is overwhelming them on their break.
6. Make Learning Easily Accessible
All the above suggestions have something in common: They’re all simple for your employees to access. Whether they’re logging online to take a continuing education course or they’re spending a few hours of their workweek with a mentor, these activities are easily added to their schedules. All work-related learning should be like this.
That’s because your employees are dealing with a lot at both work and at home. Full schedules don’t always allow them time for skills-based training, no matter how much they want it. The quicker they can access it, the better for them — and for you.
All these tips will make workplace learning a bigger part of your employees’ day-to-day lives. With that kind of on-the-job training, the entire workforce will be better at their jobs and more satisfied with their workplace, which will lift everyone to a new level.
Sarah Landrum is a career expert and the founder of Punched Clocks, a career and happiness site for young professionals. Want more advice on keeping employees happy and engaged? Follow Sarah on social media and subscribe to her newsletter.
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