Guest Blog by Conor McArdle, content executive at Brighter Business
For businesses to stay flexible and innovative, it’s important to encourage learning. To do that, you must create an environment which puts learning, professional and personal development at the heart of your people strategy.
This goes beyond improved productivity and profit. A strong learning culture can help you to fill skill gaps and to gain a competitive edge, with increased employee engagement, satisfaction and retention as tangible benefits.
Support the learning of new, transferable skills
To realise these benefits, it’s important to commit to and encourage a learning culture. There are different ways of achieving this. You can allocate time, either on a weekly or monthly basis during which time your staff are given the freedom to pursue their own professional interests.
Alternatively, you can organise team-based learning in-house or look for training days operated by external companies. If you already have learning and development practices in place, it may be worth reassessing them and updating where necessary. Training guides can quickly become outdated if not reviewed regularly and new trends within your industry may need to be added to the list.
Introducing a mentor programme can be a great way to get new starters paired up with experienced heads within the business. The best thing about a mentor programme is that both parties can learn from each other; whilst new starters are guided through the early stages of their time at the company, they can also offer new and refreshing perspectives, ideas and workflows to shake-up established practices.
Lunch and learns
Stepping outside of rigid or formalised learning structures could also be worthwhile. Informal arrangements such as lunch and learns are a great way to bring people together for the first time and exchange information from different areas.
These can be informal areas of interest that don’t necessarily need to be business related. As a way of engaging employees, invite them to suggest topics and vote on their preferred subject.
It’s important however that you don’t use lunch and learns for your employees to carry out mandatory training (like Health & Safety). There should be dedicated time set out for this. Rather, these suggestions should be seen as complementary training.
External training sessions
If your business is small enough for everyone to know how each area works, think about bringing in an external expert to share knowledge in an informal setting. Bringing in a qualified professional for dedicated training sessions can also help to quickly inject knowledge and advice around best practices. Again, these can be individual or group sessions.
What matters isn’t the method you opt for, but that you cater to your colleagues and employees by creating a learning environment, not just for their own development but for improved business flexibility and performance.
Everyone learns differently, so allow room for flexibility and give everyone the opportunity to flourish. Identify areas where improvement would benefit the business and get started!
For more tips, guidance and information for SMEs and start-ups, visit www.brighterbusiness.co.uk.