Learning while at work is often considered a luxury by many businesses, if it’s even considered at all. To take a course, attend a seminar, or consume learning materials during working hours is usually only deemed acceptable if there’s enough time left over to do so once all other tasks are complete, and let’s be honest, how often does that happen?! For companies who do provide training opportunities, it’s common that employees are asked, or worse, expected, to give up their evenings or weekends to attend, rather than being allowed to incorporate the learning into their workday. In other words – professional growth and learning still isn’t valued as highly as it should be for many organisations.
But why? Why are so many companies content at paying for training but don’t incorporate it into the working day (it is learning for work after all), instead expecting the employee to undertake it in their own time? Surely companies would want to do everything they can to encourage their staff to learn, upskill, and acquire new information that will help them perform better? Learning and training is an extremely simple way to achieve better productivity and results in the longer term, with staff who learn at work being happier, more productive, and better equipped for their current or future roles within the organisation. The takeaway? Incorporating it into the working day/week is a no brainer.
“Training is important because it represents a good opportunity for employees to grow their knowledge base and improve their job skills to become more effective in the workplace,” says Indeed.com. “Despite the cost of training for employees, the return on investment is immense if it is consistent.”
So, what are some of the benefits of training staff during the working day?
1. Improves skills & knowledge
It goes without saying that offering staff the chance to learn will broaden their skillset and knowledge and this, of course, will have a direct impact on your business. “These improvements will positively affect the productivity of workers, which can increase the profits and efficiency of an organization,” says Indeed.com. Although it may affect short term task completion, making learning a key task in a team member’s day can have a huge positive impact on the business in the weeks and months ahead. Showing your team that you value their learning enough to set time aside in the day for them to work on their development instils a real learning culture within the company, which is something that employees love.
2. Makes staff feel happier and more valued meaning they will perform better
Employees expect a much healthier work/life balance than they did in the past. Their free time is valuable and should be spent in ways that allow them to unwind and avoid burnout. Allowing staff to further their career and develop professionally during the working day as part of their job speaks volumes about the company valuing them, and their happiness. And do you know what happy staff do? They work harder.
3. Can close skill gaps and help you stay ahead of the curve
Putting emphasis on staff training and using tools to monitor exactly what employees are learning can help establish skill gaps within your organisation. Tracking what your staff are reading, watching, and listening to will give you a good overview of strengths within your organisation, and insight into where you may need to offer additional training. Closing skill gaps will help present-day operations, and future company growth. “Organizations must find ways to stay ahead of skills relevancy,” says IBM. “Hiring alone is not a sustainable solution to the talent crisis. Successfully navigating this new environment requires fundamentally reshaping how organizations manage skills, talent, and culture.”
4. Boosts productivity
“By continuing to teach your employees new skills and abilities, they will not just become better workers, they will feel like more productive members of the organization. This will improve their morale as well as their workplace capabilities.” Putting stock into your staff shows them they are valued by you, and in turn, they will become better equipped to do their job and a happier and more productive member of the team. A great way to encourage staff learning on a company-wide level is to set up a designated study area within your office so that staff know that you are actively supporting their development and that you consider professional growth part of their job.
5. Makes the company more appealing to new talent, and helps retain current talent
A whopping 94% of employees said that they would stay longer at a company if they could learn whilst at work. Good staff retention saves time, money, and resources and so keeping the talent you have is crucial. If you’re looking to hire new talent, offering L&D you’re proud of will go a long way. “It’s not enough for a candidate and employer to share values. Today’s jobseekers also want reassurance that if they join a company, they’ll be able to learn new skills,” says an article by Forbes. Job seekers want a job that can satisfy them now and in the future, and learning and development is now a crucial item on a job seeker’s checklist. Learning during the working day is a relatively new concept, but it’s what employees want and could make the all difference between them choosing to work for you, or for a business that actively promotes learning during the working day. (Oh, and their lunch hour doesn’t count!)
Allowing your staff to learn, grow professionally, and upskill as a routine part of their working day has many benefits. You’ll have happy and productive staff, retain good talent, close skill gaps, and ensure your team have the skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. Companies are beginning to see that continued and consistent learning at work is having a hugely positive impact now and will continue to help them thrive in the future.