Creating learning opportunities for employees in current times is both easy and difficult. Easy because technology has amplified the accessibility to knowledge and information, difficult because of the sharp focus on functional expertise that pushes the intent of learning new skills, down the list for most employees. However, in current times one of the most crucial decisions for business leaders is to make adequate and correct investment in creating learning opportunities for employees.
To create learning opportunities for employees there is a need to revamp the way an organization functions to execute tasks and activities. Some of the ways to create opportunities for employees to learn are:
- Instigate and stimulate managers to train their employees: Traditionally managers pass on their skills, insights and wisdom gathered from their own experiences and training. But in the present days, the role of managers has eroded. They are burdened with huge responsibilities and it makes mentoring their last priority. There is an extensive need to incentivise and instigate managers to mentor employees to help them have first-hand learning opportunities.
- Respond appropriately to learnings with short-shelf life and training needs: MOst of us know that gone are the days when knowledge and skills stayed valuable for several years. Now skills could get redundant in the span of a few months. So organisations have to shift training and development from an occasional activity to a more consistent, ongoing process so that the training is relevant to the employees. That would encourage them to participate in the programs not just as a part of the corporate mandate, but because they acknowledge it as a real learning opportunity.
- Encourage employees to take charge of their career and its growth: Highly structured, systematic and standardised programs burn millions of dollars only to discourage employees to participate in learning initiates and opportunities. Employers should conduct training programs that enable and encourage employees to take charge of their learning future, to self-direct and control their career progress. Only then they self discover learning opportunities within and around the organisation which in turn contributes to the overall productivity, innovation and continued success of the organisation.
- Development of flexible learning programs: Asking employees to participate in training programs over and above their heavy work burden keeps them stuck to the question of time availability. Employers should develop programs that are flexible, on-demand and are available as mobile solutions to provide more accessibility to employees
- Develop learning opportunities considering virtual teams: In the current unprecedented times, virtual is the new vital. With people across the globe working remotely, there has been an enhanced need for employers to be creative on how to continue training their workforce. The consideration is about both formal learning courses and informal monitoring and coaching. The programs should be developed in a way that best compensates for the absence of face to face interactions and collaborations.
Learning opportunities that help employees expand their skill set and knowledge periphery improves their motivation levels. It doesn't just improve their current performance but also builds employee loyalty, improves retention and helps to draw good employees to the organisation. Thus a wise leader would always swear by the fact that employee development is no way a cost, rather a high-returning investment that should be continued irrespective of situations and circumstances.