6 Effective Employee Development Methods that Will Turn your Company into a Learning Organization

Zuletzt aktualisiert:
27.10.2021
Lesezeit:
13 minutes
Last updated:
October 27, 2021
Time to read:
13 minutes
This article presents 6 easy-to-implement employee training activities and methods you don't need an expensive course library for.

Globalisation is weaving its way into our everyday lives, redefining the way we work and interact with companies around us. And today’s generation of workers desire  personal, intuitive experiences, forcing companies to rethink their approach to attract and retain talent.  

One way to enrich your employees’ journey is by introducing them to a wide variety of training and development activities. However, this goes beyond buying redundant video courses for your people. We’ve moved past the era of giving boring workshops and piles of handbooks. It’s time to make way for technologically diverse programs that cater to every worker’s unique needs and challenges.

When you design these programs, it’s important to keep your employees in mind, only then your seeds of effort will sprout into fruitful experiences. 

Here is how to get started with your employee development activities today. Get inspired from best practices you can easily implement in your own organisation.

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The basics of employee development activities

Employee development is like a marriage between an employee and an employer,  both coming together to make this relationship work. Here, the most important developments don’t happen through elaborated programs. It is during the smaller moments that occur within the workplace: on-the-job learning opportunities, training activities, engaging conferences, that nurture this relationship to success. 

When such developmental programs are wholeheartedly designed to benefit your employees’ careers, it will become much easier to achieve your goals.

importance of employee development methods: From training and culture to retention
Source

Why is employee development important?

We’ve rounded up several reasons that reaffirm the benefits of investing in employee development. For one, 74% of all employees believe that they don’t reach their full potential in the workplace.

Also, companies that invest in employee development are profitable by 24%. The reason is simple - if you invest in your employees’ learning and development, they hone their skills, adding more value to your company. And when employees see themselves flourishing in their role, they’ll be motivated to work longer at your organisation, thus reducing your turnover. 

Another reason is, lack of development opportunities can make an employee feel disconnected with their role. Issues like miscommunication with managers, working half-heartedly, and less engagement will begin to surface, pushing them to leave their job. It is said, 40% of employees will leave a company within one year if they don’t have opportunities to learn and grow.

In the end, having great employee development opportunities will put your organisation above others. In this case, you will attract the crème de la crème of talented workers.

Employee development goals

The specific goals you set for your employees will depend greatly on your company and the role they work in. Some goals to include are:

  • Completing a specific course
  • Being promoted into a certain role
  • Hitting certain performance metrics in their role
  • Mastering a new program
  • Improving your communication skills
  • Improving your project management skills

It’s a good idea to set these goals together with your employees and monitor their progress on agreed milestones. The success of your employee development program will greatly depend on the goals you set, and how measurable and relevant they are.

For example, focusing on “improving your communication skills” is a good start but there’s no way you can measure that in a tangible way. On the other hand, “decreasing your sprint time by 2 days per development sprint” is a much more precise and actionable goal. The more focused your goals are, the faster you will learn if your employee development activities are fruitful or not.

If you want to create a structure, it’s best to monitor your employees’ progress on these goals occasionally. Most employee development initiatives take over a year, and checking results towards the end can be a hard pill to swallow. Instead, do weekly or monthly surveys to check what your employees have learned. You may not get measurable results every time, but you will get immediate feedback, which is just as important.

You can find a more detailed guide on creating employee development plans here.

Employee development types

Depending on where the employee development activities are done, they can be classified into two following groups:

  • On-the-job (employees learn at workspaces)
  • Off-the-job (employees acquire knowledge outside of the workplace)

Both these activities help elevate your employees, it’s your choice to implement one they will benefit most from. 

On-the-job development

...is beneficial because it’s cost efficient, easier to implement, and customisable to your workplace. It’s a good way to engage both - the instructors and the “students”, bringing them to work together on a common goal. Both sides will appreciate the dynamic and the practical nature of the development activity. On the downside, these are mostly self-learning activities, so it could disconnect your employees from their roles and responsibilities.

On the flip side, off-the-job development brings fresh ideas into the workplace, as it’s taught externally. You can implement it in the form of webinars, ebooks, podcasts, and several other modern formats.

Off-the-job development

...is usually led by industry experts and it can make an employee feel more appreciated and valued. However, off-the-job development can scale your cost as you will have to incur education and travel expenses.

One of the biggest challenges of off-the-job training is its theoretical nature. Employees are trained to learn from imagined case studies, which can be a bit different from real-life situations. There is no hands-on approach and the employees practically need to guide themselves through the curriculum.

Given the rapid spread of remote work, many companies today are forced to use a hybrid model of employee development that works for both types of arrangements. Cost plays a major role too, so make sure to weigh out your options and choose the one that best suits your organisation and employees.

Comparison between on-the-job-training and off-the-job training as employee development method categories

Traditional employee development methods and activities

Before remote work became a global trend, there were only a handful ways through which employees could prepare themselves for the professional world. These include the following:

  • Workshops
  • Video training
  • Academic degrees

For a good while, these were accepted as the only forms of learning and developing one's skills. However, we’ve moved way past that era. A lot of organisations are implementing customised training programs for their employees. This way, they can unlock more value by allowing their employees to have deeper and more-meaningful learning experiences. 

Without debating over the importance of a degree, it’s important to mention that upskilling through formal training is an equally effective route you can approach. 

For example, you can sponsor your employee’s BA or MA degree or offer informal, bite-sized formats of education. Whichever way you go, it’s important that your employees can use these learnings to their advantage. 

6 Engaging and Innovative Employee Development Activities to Try

If you don’t want to send your employees back to universities and you’re more fond of practical, fun methods, here are a few you can try within your organization.

Learning day or learning hour

One of the most rewarding experiences you can give your employees is some time off. During this period, they can dedicate a few hours a week to learn new skills or absorb valuable information.

For example, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and many others follow the 5-hour rule. Here, they give themselves one hour a day (or five hours every week) for reading or learning new skills. This could be anything from mastering a new op to improving communication skills.

If you get inspired from this route, make sure to adopt a system where employees can report their learnings. We suggest having weekly or monthly check-in’s on Slack where employees can share their progress to the management and their team members. 

If you’re more fond of long-term activities, set aside an entire day for learning something new. This could be the perfect opportunity for a remote company meetup where instead of team building, you acquire practical skills. This can be an on-the-job or off-the-job activity, where you invite experts to share knowledge.

Learning days are best done in an offline setting simply because you can have more control and you know exactly what the employees are doing at a given point in time.

Peer learning

One of the best ways your employees can acquire knowledge is by connecting them with experienced employees within your organisation. This way, they will get first-hand knowledge from people who’ve already translated their learnings into real life experiences. The challenge here is to just break down silos and help facilitate the training process. 

For example, bring your marketing team head to teach the basics of content marketing to your sales team. This will not only help your team learn more and polish their skills, but it will also create a collaborative work environment. This way, your employees will feel independent and responsible for scheduling and leading employee development activities.

The great thing about peer learning is that there is no shortage of tools. You can create a Slack channel where employees can share their learnings, and offer feedback. It is a good start until you’re ready to use something more robust. 

There are quite a few peer learning tips to help you create a better experience but perhaps the most important one is to assign a peer learning facilitator. They can provide a structure to the experience, guide the discussion and make sure that new employees are paired with seasoned veterans.

For example, LinkedIn had a peer learning activity where employees taught each other about the key company values through practice. It was led and facilitated by the employees where they prepared one another for real-life experiences. 

Communities of practice

This is an example of another great activity that doesn’t originate in the workplace. A community of practice or a COP is a group of people who share a common interest or a desire to pursue a mutual goal. This could be: trying to cut down a long sales cycle, improving their marketing content, organising meetings in a more structured way - you name it.

Hewlett Packard is well known for having communities of practice where the main aim is reducing downtime for their customers. The meetings are held monthly via video calls.

Mentorship routines

Unlike peer learning, mentorship routines are a one-way street. With peer learning, employees learn from each other while mentorships are a guided experience where senior staff members teach others the knowledge and skills needed to advance in their career.

mentoring as an employee development method: 71% of Fortune 500 companies have one in place

This is a well-known method of employee development and it can be used in diverse settings. Mentors and mentees can voluntarily participate in this program as per their convenience, and skill sets.

Despite being a one-sided activity, it still requires a conscious effort from both sides for the routine to work. Both the mentor and the mentee need to have a structure in their meetings, offer valuable feedback, proactively schedule sessions, and more.

General Electric is a well-known example of a company with a superb mentoring program. Top-level executives are connected with various employees to not only help them learn more but also to train them for leadership roles. 

Hybrid onboarding

Whether your employees work remotely, in the office, or in a hybrid model, onboarding is a crucial step in an employee's personal development journey. This is especially important in remote companies, where it could take months for new hires to meet their colleagues in person. This makes onboarding one of the most defining moments in your employee’s journey, and we’re here to guide you at every step. 

See how you can welcome your new hires with enthusiasm and dedication through our customised onboarding programs.

Here’s an example of our client - Roadsurfer, a company that is at reaching new heights of success with 35+ locations across Europe. A company with an international presence, they emphasise on the importance of onboarding new people.  Using Zavvy’s learning journeys and templates, they are able to successfully onboard an average of 27 employees per month.

We selected another great example from the software giant - Microsoft. Ever since they rolled out the remote work model, they’ve hired over 27,000 new employees. They attribute this success to their hybrid onboarding process because of which their new hires could easily connect with their managers.

After reading several case studies, one of the key findings is that when managers are active in the onboarding process, new hires are x3.5 more likely to feel satisfied with their onboarding. 

Here’s another statistic to keep in mind: 22% of all turnover will happen in the first 45 days after a new hire starts on their job. If you don’t set things off efficiently, you’ll have to hire a replacement employee quickly, costing you even more time and money.

Hybrid onboarding is here to stay. According to Flexjobs, remote work is projected to grow quite a bit in the upcoming years. They say, “By 2025, 36.2 million people in the USA will be working remotely. Some of them will be fully remote, but we have reasons to believe that the hybrid approach will be alive and well.”

As such, it’s a good idea to get the most out of a hybrid workplace and get accustomed to onboarding employees in this new setting.

Employee onboarding software as a first measure of employee development

Microlearning

Not all learning has to take days and hours. Some of the best learning methods are bitesize activities that don’t take more than a few minutes to complete. For example, an activity in a certain app, writing a piece of text, analyzing an image, and more.

Walmart is one of the biggest companies in the world and they have an excellent example of microlearning in place. Accidents at work began to surface in everyday routines. Since they employ people of varied age groups, it was important for their solution to be all age-inclusive. So they introduced short 3-4 minute quizzes where each employee could easily remember what (not) to do. As a result, incidents in some Walmart stores dropped by an amazing 54%.

Another great example of microlearning comes from the tech giant IBM. Their new project - IBM Cloud required a large number of professionals to familiarise themselves in an area unbeknownst to their knowledge. 

Being IBM, of course, they developed their full-fledged platform called IBM Micro Learning, where they introduced brief exercises for different roles, each aiming to teach a specific skill.

It is no surprise that the microlearning niche in software is booming. There are a lot of apps that make learning fun and memorable. One such app is Grovo, that lets you pick a variety of lessons on compliance, personal development and many other topics which are crucial for the workplace. You can use their templates, edit them or create something of your own for your specific needs.

If you're interested in setting up microlearning programs yourself, read how Freeletics created a training routine for their leaders with Zavvy.

employee development method microlearning

How to get started with employee development activities

As a leader of your team or an organisation, your focus should be on elevating your employees and not eliminating them. Just like how there’s no perfect employee, there’s no right time to get started with employee development activities. What matters is you understand their needs, and offer tailored learning programs they can benefit from. Most of these are low maintenance activities, requiring only a few hours of preparation and a stable internet connection.

Examples of employee development methods that can easily be set up on Zage

But keeping people engaged requires quite some manual effort. To help you take workload off your plate, we, at Zavvy are happy to help you with creating a structured onboarding process, and a host of other activities, regardless of your industry. With our customised learning journeys, you will be able to reap benefits of a more involved, engaged team: boosting productivity and team morale. 

View of the workflow builder on ZAGE - to set up employee development methods and activities.

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