When looking to improve your organization’s culture, look first at your approach to professional learning. Creating a workplace with learning and development opportunities matters: 87% of millennials say it’s important in a job.
While most organizations believe in the power of learning — 84% of corporate leaders view learning as a critical issue — most learning initiatives are less impactful than they could be. Professional development requires more than books or training courses; it requires actively learning by doing. This type of learning is otherwise known as experiential learning.
Read on to learn more about experiential learning, as well as other types of learning opportunities to provide employees.
What is Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning is based on the assumption that learning best takes place on the job and in day-to-day experiences. This way, employees are playing an active role in their professional development — they’re learning by doing.
To help employees learn through experiences, their roles should answer four questions:
- Is It Challenging? Does their job push them to develop a new skill set or adopt a new process?
- Does It Have Variety? Are their projects diverse in scope?
- Does It Include New Projects? Are employees regularly introduced to new projects with new challenges?
- Is Collaboration Required? Do employees need to engage with new teams, peers, and leaders in order to do their job?
If you’ve created a workplace that answers these four questions affirmatively, you’ll motivate your employees to develop new skills, see different aspects of your business, and stay on their toes in order to excel.
Here are some ideas for incorporating experiential learning into your employees’ roles:
- Desk rotations: encourage employees to foster relationships across departments by regularly sitting with new teams for a day.
- Stretch assignments: connect with your employees about skills they’d like to develop and work with them to create projects that build those skills.
- Increase authority: give employees increased decision-making authority over the projects they’re especially excited by or confident leading to success.
- Connection to the business: help employees see the larger impact of their role by including them in relevant conversations, tasks, or meetings with senior leaders.
- Innovation time: encourage employees to take a certain amount of time each week to learn something new, regardless of whether it connects directly to their current role.
How Else Can Employees Learn In The Workplace?
Experiential learning is one of the best ways to develop employees’ skills and advance their careers. But it’s most impactful when complemented with other types of learning — primarily, by social learning and formal education. You can learn more about how to implement these three types of learning in your workplace here.
Social learning involves connecting employees to the peers, mentors, leaders, and coaches that will help them grow. These relationships can occur across all levels and, perhaps, even outside of your organization.
Here are some ideas for how to provide social learning opportunities to your employees:
- Peer Outings: set up regular company-sponsored lunches, coffees, or happy hours for employees to connect with their peers.
- Mentorship Programs: establish a mentorship program within your organization. Or, turn to a solution like Everwise.
- Coaching Sessions: if your employee is looking to advance a particular skill set or their knowledge of your business, connect them with a colleague or leader who can help.
Formal education is what you may typically think of regarding professional development. From books and online courses to conferences and training sessions, formal education helps employees reiterate what they’ve learned on the job.
Providing employees with formal education is incredibly important. But it needs to exist alongside other types of learning to directly affect employees’ careers.
Here are some ideas for how to provide formal education to your employees:
- Stock an office library or bookshelf for employees to use freely.
- Provide employees with an annual learning budget (or)
- Reimburse employees for seminars, lectures, materials, or conferences they attend that are related to their roles.
- Set up lunch-and-learn events at your office. Employees can teach a skill set they’re particularly proud of; helping employees learn something new from people they trust.
- Attend industry events or lectures as a team.
What types of learning opportunities have most advanced your career?