It’s Learning at Work Week this week, proving everyday really is a school day. Now in its 18th year, the Campaign for Learning has launched the event with a ‘Curious & Creative’ theme, shining a spotlight on the importance and benefits of learning and development at work.
Curiosity and creativity come in many different forms and there is no one-size-fits-all. For me, learning is incredibly important, both personally and professionally. Whether dedicated training courses, or doing the crossword at lunchtime, there is always more to discover and more knowledge to absorb.
Offering training that allows individuals to personalise their learning experience at work is one of the best ways to retain staff as well as attract new talent. An environment that cultivates and encourages learning is crucial in enhancing the employee experience, so how can an organisation ensure that their staff continues their development? Here are a few simple tips and activities to try:
- Lunch and learn. Providing an open forum where individuals can present their learning is a great way to encourage employees to develop. Not only does it provide the audience with insight into a previously unknown area, it also gives the presenter the opportunity to develop by providing an informal and safe space to show off their expertise. It’s also amazing to hear some of the things that colleagues have experienced; the student in one situation can be the teacher in another.
- External speakers. Bringing in speakers from outside of the organisation gives employees the chance to explore new and fresh ideas. No matter what the industry, discovering new information about a completely different area encourages new interests and offers new perspectives. Whether it be architecture or baking, hearing how an individual has achieved what they have is always interesting, and allows employees to consider new approaches to everyday tasks.
- Ask questions. A culture that enables employees to feel comfortable asking questions is one to be proud of. While there is of course a time and place to ask questions – halfway through a client meeting perhaps isn’t the right one – an open environment in which senior leaders and junior team members are just as approachable as each other is important. Research has shown that knowledge sharing within a team and general conversation are two of the most important and preferred ways of learning at work. People are inherently curious, and feeling that your colleagues have time to listen and help you out is a great way to make sure that employees continue, and want, to learn.
This list is of course not exhaustive and there are so many ways that organisations can ensure that employees are constantly developing. Learning at Work Week is a great way to focus attention on the importance of learning in the office but it should not be limited to one week. Interestingly, development has been cited as a more important benefit than financial reward, highlighting a shift in workplace priorities.
An organisation that can promote continuous learning is much more likely to attract the top talent, while celebrating the ‘Aha! moments’ will go a long way to create a positive employee experience. Committing time to employees’ development enhances the internal customer experience, allows teams to feel that they really are valued and ensures that curiosity and creativity remain a key part of any organisation.