Retaining and Growing Learners
As of today, 23% of employees say their jobs do not take advantage of their skills and training and less than one-third of Americans are engaged in their jobs. That needs to change.
Once we focus on hiring learners, we need to put time and effort into keeping them and helping them develop.
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We need to build education into our work programs.
At Hyde Park Angels (where I served as Director of Platform), we have experimented with a 70% work, 30% learning split in our internship and fellowship programs. This means while 70% of the week is spent on standard projects, the other 30% is spent at informational meetings, educational workshops, reading books off a collaborative syllabus, and chiseling away at independent projects.
The sample size is small, but the results have been impressive, with a marked improvement in overall performance, engagement, and even new ideas brought to the table.
This isn’t the only way to bring more learning into environments with employees hungry for learning.
Introducing continuing education stipends, even small ones, builds a culture where learning is not simply expected, but encouraged and supported.
Investing in employee-led workshops is an opportunity for learners to lead and teach and vice versa. Hosting lunch-and-learns where volunteers focus on their areas of expertise, whether they be PR or C++, encourages employees from across departments or specializations to learn and try new things while gaining appreciation for their colleagues. It also fosters a sense of camaraderie and support.
Shadow days allow employees to learn from colleagues outside of their immediate focus areas and potentially develop interdisciplinary ideas and approaches. Free days focused on creating new projects may spark innovative solutions that lead to business growth while pushing employees to structure their own self-directed learning.
Even having an office-wide reading list where each week, month, or quarter, everyone commits to reading the same book and discussing it in an open forum may lead to new approaches and ideas that help the business while keeping learners engaged.
These initiatives and many more can support an environment that keeps your learners fulfilled and engaged, even while breeding new ones.
Ultimately, the future of work is one that privileges learners, and as we approach that future, we need to do the same.
Alida Miranda-Wolff is the Founder and CEO of Ethos, a talent strategy firm for tech companies focused on driving company performance by shaping talent and developing culture. Follow her work on Twitter and VentureBeat.