Your company thrives off of a solid learning and development program. It’s how your employees get the skills and knowledge they need to grow within their roles, and how your business is able to do bigger and better things year after year. Chances are that you have a formal training plan in place (and if you don’t, you should create one). But have you thought about bringing in a more official strategy for your informal training opportunities as well? Here’s why you might want to formalize your informal training design as well.
What is Informal Training?
Informal training is learning and development opportunities that are not traditionally structured. They might be made up of casual mentoring or job shadowing opportunities between employees, or the encouragement of self-directed learning. The truth is that the most common forms of learning are informal because the opportunities for ad hoc education are endless and the return on investment is often difficult to quantify. They occur without strong attention to the systematic design and evaluation that many L&D experts depend on. But their value is clear.
In order to bring more of that informal training design into your workplace, start with these strategies:
1) Build Culture of Learning
The businesses with the strongest learning and development programs succeed because the entire culture of the company is encouraging of that learning and innovation on the job. When a business does not offer opportunities for learning and development, or worse yet does not allow for the time employees need to invest in those opportunities, it is all but impossible for employees to explore roles and tasks that are outside of their basic job description. It is not enough to offer learning opportunities. Your company must nurture and support the risk-taking and the time required to fully benefit from self-led learning as well.
2) Share Access to Online Courses
Virtual learning through online courses offers both employers and employees a great option for staying on top of the ever-evolving landscape of the professional world. MOOCs (or Massively Open Online Courses) offer cost-effective, learn-at-your-own-pace training that brings students up to speed on the latest subjects of their interest. While not every MOOC comes with a certificate of completion, the skills and knowledge learners develop will provide real value to their work product.
3) Embrace Social Learning
Social learning is likely the most effective form of informal learning. These opportunities may be in person or online through forums, social media, and chat groups. Online forums and communities are a particularly deep well of learning opportunities and information resources. Just think how often have you turned to a coworker for advice on solving a problem. People learn from each other’s experiences quickly and easily. Providing and encouraging employees to ask questions, to answer questions, to help each other learn and do better every day will help your team work better together, and your business flourish. Make it a more formal program by hosting networking events, facilitating mentoring relationships, start a Facebook or LinkedIn group and help make it easier for employees to connect with each other.
Are you looking to develop a culture of learning?
Informal and social learning draws from the powerful well that is collective knowledge. And self-directed learning can result in better learning overall because you know that the students are fully invested in the education. To help build a more formal strategy to integrate informal learning into your training programs, contact the team at Clarity Consultants today. We have top L&D candidates who can help you develop a great culture of learning at your company.