How working less will boost the economy

First published on PeopleFirst.

Think about it, if you have more time for shopping, you’ll spend more money. 😉

But seriously, in this instance working less doesn’t mean part-time for less money, but full-time pay for less full-time hours.
If we look at the history of working, people in the middle ages for example worked hard, yes, but they also worked when they needed to, not for a certain amount of time to ‘clock in hours’. Sometimes that meant they only worked for about 150 days a year! Clocking in hours is a concept of the industrial revolution. People didn’t in fact get replaced by machines, they got worked to death. Literally. Unfortunately the mindset of clocking in hours hasn’t changed much since then.

Then, life got a little bit more comfortable and new rules got put into place. By 1919 the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was founded, with the eight-hour day and 48-hour week as one of its key objectives which quickly became the norm across Europe. By the 1950s agreements negotiated by trade unions ensured the two-day weekend and the 40-hour week as a new standard.

Since then, nothing much has changed. Many of us still work way more than that and don’t get paid overtime. Now add long commutes and you have the perfect recipe for at best, an unhappy employee, and at worst, depression and burnout.
The result is that, in 2017/18 in the UK, the total number of days lost to work related stress or depression accounted for a whopping 57% of the total number of lost working days: 15.4 million days. This equates to 57.3%of the 26.8 million work days lost in total and according to the Telegraph cost the economy around £8.6 billion that year. A real number that could be invested into the NHS… Being overworked is the major reason for sickness at work, with one in four sick days used as a direct result of workload.

silver iMac with keyboard and trackpad inside room

So, decreasing working hours, or even better, giving employees full autonomy and flexibility over when and where they work, has many benefits, and here are just a couple:

Increased productivity

According to a nationwide survey people in the UK are only productive for about three hours a day. That’s 11% less productive than French workers and 14%down on Germans. The Guardian consolidates that: “Some of the most productive economies in the world work far fewer hours collectively than the average UK worker.” We should really think about whether paying and forcing someone to sit at their desk for a specific amount of time is really helping the company or if people should be free to use their time for other things like shopping (they do anyways, online) or taking care of their families. At this point people usually say something about trust and I reply that as long as everyone has clear goals and outcomes that they can perform and be measured against, (that’s called a results-only work environment, or ROWE) there should be no reason to not trust them to be capable adults that can make their own decisions. If we don’t work, we don’t perform, don’t reach our goals and that will give our employers enough indicators of how productive we are.

Increased performance

Performance will increase because when we can make decisions and take ownership over how and when we work and learn for example, we will put more effort into the result, because we are fully responsible for them. As mentioned in an earlier blog for People First, autonomy will turn into higher job satisfaction. Employees are happier and more engaged. And when goals are measured effectively, companies will have a better overview of who’s performing and who isn’t.

Bloomberg cites in an article that “A shorter working week could help the UK’s ‘exhausted’ workforce and boost the economy. Think Tank Autonomy said its research suggested there was no correlation between long working hours and productivity.” That same research suggests that reducing the working week could also help the environment, by reducing commutes. Imagine that! They also say that “productivity should not be the burden of workers alone”, which should be a whole new angle to look at.
In addition, shorter working weeks could allow other workers, who might not have enough work, to pick up more hours and even create more workplaces, for example through job shares, to tackle unemployment.

Now isn’t that something!

Learning on the spot: how collaboration encourages workflow learning

First published on TrainingZone.

Having worked in Learning and Development for the better part of a decade, I had to learn how to deal with one fact over and over again – training is often put at the back end of budget requests because it usually takes a long time to measure the impact it has.

However, offering opportunities for people to grow and develop themselves is one of the biggest factors in their job satisfaction. According to a survey done by Josh Bersin in partnership with LinkedIn last year, “We all know that learning is one of the most essential parts of business success, and it occurs at an individual, team, and organizational level all the time.” In the survey, professionals were asked about where they spend their time at work and what drives their satisfaction levels. “Employees who spend a lot of time on the job learning are measurably more engaged, productive, and successful than their peers.”, Bersin says. The survey results show that people who spend more time learning on the job are for example:

  • 74% more likely to know where they want to go in their careers.
  • 48% more likely to find purpose in their work.
  • 47% less likely to be stressed.
  • 39% more likely to feel productive and successful.

The Udemy ‘State of the ROI of Learning Report’ from 2018 also says that “Highly-engaged companies spend more on learning”, and that businesses can increase their retention rates by also offering more autonomy, career and growth opportunities. Now link that back to the 74% of ‘heavy learners’ from Josh Bersin’s survey who are more likely to know what they want from their career, and you have the start of a pretty good recipe for employee engagement and experience and argument to spend more energy embedding learning into work, rather than inventing complicated methods of measuring learning transfer after employees have completed a series of workshops or ‘click-next’ e-learning modules.

Collaborative on-the-job learning

Today, we are in constant need of information in real time to help us complete our tasks, but are often made to wait for specific training to happen. A much better way to get the information is to know where to find it or who we can ask to get an answer. So, a collaborative approach like peer-to-peer, or social, learning is a great way for people to teach each other, and on the spot. It additionally provides people with more autonomy at work, which, according to CIPHR “May also be the most important factor when nurturing a culture of engagement within a company.” Engaged employees are more productive and miss less days at work.

When encouraging collaborative learning on the job, we also need to encourage people to welcome immediate feedback. This really helps them to retain the information better, improve performances and boost skill growth.

Autonomy is key

Your company is a gold mine and information is your currency. Information is free to share using a collaborative learning approach, and to implement this you need to make learning a habit by providing opportunities and tools for your employees to exchange their knowledge with each other. Using a collaborative approach like this, team work essentially, people will be more engaged in and take responsibility of their learning and also, as mentioned, remember more of the information that they discussed with their colleagues. Just think back to your time at school and how you learned or remembered more stuff during group projects, discussing and explaining different topics.

As you can hopefully see, there are so many advantages of integrating learning into everyone’s daily tasks. Letting your employees decide when, how and where they learn will provide them and your company with a greater job satisfaction, engagement, performance and productivity. To name just a few.

Your employees will need very clear goals for them to achieve, and together with the opportunities and support you can provide them with to learn, and work, more collaboratively with their colleagues, they are well on their way to deliver the results your company needs to reach its goals. That’s another benefit.

The performance business

There is still room for traditional training such as workshops or e-learning, but in line with the 70-20-10 model that should only take up about 10% of the learning your company offers. Charles Jennings, Co-founder of the methodology, emphasises that Learning and Development professionals are in the performance, not the learning, business.

So, if you want your employees, and in turn your company, to perform better, give them the opportunity to learn, anytime and anywhere!

And maybe we don’t actually need to measure the learning outcomes directly, but more the end-results. If everyone hits their goals and does a good job, how much does it matter how they got there? Just trust them and let them get on with it, they are after all adults capable of making their own decisions.

 

Autonomy, Passion and Performance at Work Through Learning

First published on People First.

“It seems surreal that a lot of people sit at their desks doing nothing productive just so they can show attendance.”

I believe we’ve all heard the phrase ‘autonomy, mastery and purpose’ before. It’s supposed to play a big role in our lives, specifically at work. And it does!

As capable adults, we can and want to make our own decisions, and we should be trusted to do so.

We want autonomy over when, how and where we work or learn, and we want to become masters in what we do. That should be our purpose, or at least part of it.

A study published on Chron, a US newspaper, “shows that when employees are given the freedom associated with autonomy, job satisfaction rises. It’s theorized that this increased level of job satisfaction in employees stems from a feeling of greater responsibility for the quality of their work.” CIPHR claims that “Autonomy may also be the most important factor when nurturing a culture of engagement within a company.” And that makes sense, because if I have responsibility over what I do and how and when I do it, I usually put more effort into it than when someone tells me to do something, and am more satisfied with the results if I’ve done well. We already have (mostly) full autonomy in all other aspects of our lives, we are allowed to decide to rent or buy a house, have a pet or even kids. Why shouldn’t we be able to decide to work from home on Tuesday afternoon or leave early on Friday if we have finished all our work? It seems surreal that a lot of people sit at their desks doing nothing productive just so they can show attendance.

In a recent workshop I facilitated, ‘How to create a Learning and Development strategy without a budget’, we discussed people’s passions and (interview) questions you can ask to figure out what future or current employees are particularly passionate about in their job. However, we kind of came to the conclusion that unfortunately not everyone enjoys what they are doing or are particularly passionate about work. Most people work because they need to pay rent and buy food. They might work in a field they are vaguely interested in or ‘were always good at’, but the real question might be: what would people do if they didn’t have the pressure of having to earn money?

In the workshop, we explored more questions such as ‘Would you still work (here) if you won the lottery?’ and a lot of the answers were ‘I would probably do something else, something that I am more passionate about. Also, I would work part-time!’ Now there’s a thought… Volunteering came up, too.

We then went on to the topic of a universal basic income, where people would receive a set amount of money but without fulfilling any conditions. So, if people didn’t have the pressure of going to work to earn money, they could choose a job they really liked and actually put in a better performance because they now have an intrinsic motivation to do so. Of course, there will always be people that might not be so lucky and jobs that need doing whether or not someone actually wants to do them. But more people might be able to afford the luxury of working just to earn extra cash, to go on holidays and shopping – because that would also boost the economy. We’d get a similar effect by reducing working hours or give people the freedom to work in a ‘ROWE’ – a results-only-work-environment, where everyone can decide when and how they work, giving them an opportunity to fit it around their lifestyles – as long as they deliver results. There is a really great book I can recommend reading, written by two former HR employees who are the founding sisters of ROWE: ‘Why work sucks and how to fix it’. NatWest is also currently doing an amazing initiative by helping people to Rethink [their] business, where working fewer hours is better for business – the one people work for and the ones those people then spend their money in after work.

Research from the University in Birmingham from two years ago also shows that flexibility and autonomy at work has positive effects on those who get to enjoy it, such as a greater well-being: “For women, flexibility over the timing and location of their work appeared to be more beneficial allowing them to balance other tasks such as family commitments” [, … including] caring responsibilities. […] Men were found to be more impacted by job tasks, pace of work, and task order.”

There are of course things we can do to motivate people now. An example is task shifting, where people can train each other if they are bored with doing the same tasks and let’s be honest, that happens all the time.

If we can have people collaborating and take on aspects from each other, from more experienced colleagues, they can then in turn take on new aspects themselves. This way people autonomously develop and master new skills, perform better and hopefully bring with it more passion and purpose into work.

What we need are tools that people can use to learn and learn from each other, communication technology such as Skype or even WhatsApp and of course opportunities to teach each other in person. Such peer-to-peer learning is one way of providing support for people to be able to reach their goals and receive immediate feedback, something we all crave so we know we’re doing alright.

So most importantly, we all need measurable goals to achieve and we need to know how they fit into the wider company picture. If we have the right tools and support, both of which can be provided by social or peer-to-peer and on the job learning, to achieve our goals and bring the results, we should only be measured on these, not on the time spent at our desks – which brings us right back to the earlier mentioned examples of shortened working hours and a results-only-working environment (ROWE).

Another great book to read in this aspect is Daniel Pink’s ‘Drive’ because in it he explains that, to create a work environment where employees are intrinsically motivated and thus more passionate about what they do and how they do it to achieve great results and perform better, you need to focus on the three key factors of autonomy, mastery and purpose:

  1. Through providing autonomy at work you trust and encourage people to take ownership of their own work and skill development. Remember to measure them on their achievements!
  2. People should see no limits to their potential and be given the tools and support they need to continue to improve their skills.
  3. Encourage them to use their skills to achieve a ‘greater’ purpose. This can be outside of work, for instance, getting involved in a ‘good cause’ and charity work that they are passionate about.

So, in one sentence: working conditions should provide as much autonomy as possible and people should only be measured on their performance, if companies want more passion and engagement at work.

If you would like to find out how to use learning to boost the performance and passion of your employees, have a watch of my DisruptHR Nottingham video [5 min] or read the blog Talent attraction and retention: what employees want, what they really, really want.

To attend a workshop, contact me.

Talent attraction and retention: what employees want, what they really, really want

First published on HRZone.

UK employers are facing a talent shortage, which is making it harder to attract and retain employees. If your employee turnover is concerning, here’s what you need to consider to make positive changes.

Think about this: Most of us don’t start a job thinking it or the company we will work for sucks.

Yet, according to the Human Capital Benchmarking report from 2018, the overall annual staff turnover in the UK rose from 18% in 2016 to 18,5% in 2017.

Half a percentage might not sound like much, but the number is at a high and when broken down into voluntary and involuntary turnover, it’s around two thirds for people leaving on their own account (13%) against one third that are being let go (6%). In 2018, almost three in five (61%) employers reported an increase in voluntary employee turnover since the three years before (Source: https://www.insider.co.uk/news/businesses-failing-act-staff-turnover-12345924).

So, something is happening over time that makes us think about leaving our job and going elsewhere.

Of cause, we also need to look at such things like industry, interdepartmental transfers, promotions and average employee tenure. The median tenure for workers age 25 to 34 for example is 3.2 years.  In addition, last year 91% of organisations struggled to find talent with the skills they require, and spent £6.3 billion on trying to patch up the holes in their workforce skills capacity (Source: Open University / HR Magazine).

people doing office works

Assessing the problem

Without throwing in any more numbers, some questions you need to ask when calculating your employee turnover and retention rate are:

  1. How many vacancies on average do you have to fill?
  2. How long does it take to fill them?
  3. What is the cost per hire?
  4. Do the people who left have specific characteristics that you can point out? For example, where they specifically ambitious but saw no way up? Where they mostly working in a specific department(s)? Where they mainly in middle management?

This is a test of how well you know your people!

If you are interested, this article describes the process in a lot more detail:

https://www.glassdoor.co.uk/employers/blog/heres-turnover-retention-rates-look-like/

Some studies show that replacing entry-level positions can cost up to 40% of an employee’s salary and of course time to train. Here, an organically grown learning culture is best placed to bring employees up to speed quickly and keep developing them, which also helps with retaining that talent. You can read more about it in my blog about social learning: https://people-first.com/blog/social-learning-how-to-create-a-culture-of-learning/

 

Red flags to watch for 

Al with red flag Clipart | Clipart library - Free Clipart Images

According to Reddit, a powerful social media network where users post anonymously without exposing their identity and therefore tend to be more truthful and honest, here are some red flags about (new) workplaces:

  • Not listening to concerns and punishing honest feedback
  • Ruling with an iron fist
  • No clear goals, vague directions and having to wing it
  • Obviously, a lot of people leaving but also a big gap between tenures, people that have been there a long time and newbies but nothing in between – good old boys club. If you are not one of the people that have been there for a long time, or even from when the company started, you are never going to fit in or be treated like anything but the new kid. Your ideas will not be taken seriously, and you are just there to get done what no one else wants to do and you better be doing it their way or you are going to be shown the door.
  • With newer or smaller companies, be wary of “top-heavy” staff. 10 employees but 5 owners/principals? Guess where all the salary money is going.

Some sources you can investigate further:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/al4rkp/what_are_the_biggest_red_flags_you_should_look/

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/abljyl/what_is_a_massive_red_flag_about_a_new_workplace/

 

Positive signs 

There are not as many answers for green flags, but some are worth mentioning to take an example on:

  • A job is a mutually beneficial working relationship, respect your employees’ time. Let’s be grownups together and measure performance, not hours spent in the office: ‘We give you a project and due date, and will provide tools, advice and guidance at your request. We expect updates at milestones and projects closed on time, within budget. You’re a professional (adult) and will be treated like one.’
  • When the interviewer tells you in clear terms what the possibilities for advancement and raises are, and how best to succeed as an employee working for them.
  • When they try to convince me that it’s a great place to work and that I want to be there, instead of treating the position like a carrot they are dangling in front of me that I should be grateful to chase.
  • When you meet multiple people during your interview, and they all tell you they’ve been at the company for several years in other roles. Upward mobility is very important, across and within departments.

You can read more in this thread of the subreddit ‘AskReddit’:

https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/6h6cgb/what_are_subtle_greenflags_at_a_job_interview/

 

Asking the right questions

So, same as someone asked thousands of people across the globe about what they would and would not like to see at their workplace, ask your employees about their values: what do they want from their job, career, colleagues, teams, the company?

Are the tools and support you offer enough?

woman sitting in front of flat screen monitor

In the race to attract and retain talent, employers need to consider their company culture and how others perceive it. Here’s how to read their responses and make the changes needed to make your organisation a great place to work.

Some good question to start with might be:

  1. Why did (new) employees accept your offer?

-> Did they….

… simply need money and a job?

… or see it as an opportunity and wanted to work for your company, maybe for a specific reason?

  1. Why did they leave the previous job? Did you ask for an honest answer to that question and honour it? Or do you already condemn them when they tell you they left because management was not capable of providing and communicating a clear strategy, because you are unsure whether you are able to and fear they will leave you for the exact same reason? If so, it is a problem your company needs to solve, not the applicant’s. All too often candidates cannot be open about the reasons for leaving a previous job, because if they had problems with the previous company, they are probably a trouble maker! We have to stop thinking that way and ask for the truth, because if you know the truth, you can make sure to set yourself apart from those companies that keep losing their talent and provide your employees with what they are craving, attract new talent and keep it in house!

(If you are interested in some extreme examples of people having to leave a job because management was not cooperative, read the book ‘Bad Blood’ by John Carreyrou, a true story about a Silicon Valley startup, or watch the associated HBO documentary ‘The Inventor’.)

  1. How much autonomy do your employees believe they have over their tasks and time at work? Are you asking them to be in by 9:30AM latest and they can’t leave before 5:00PM? How is that an effective use of people’s time? Everyone craves autonomy and purpose – we are all professional adults, capable of making our own decisions of how we reach our goals, we are doing so outside of work and so far we have survived. As long as we have the tools and support that we need to achieve them, we’re good and don’t need a manager constantly looking over our shoulders.

When you do an employee audit, you can find out more about what you expect from them and what you offer in return. So, ask yourself: what is your unique selling point (USP) to attract talent? It’s not benefits such as health insurance or gym memberships! Because people just get used to those and end up wanting more, they will expect it. A long list of benefits should not be your core strategy. Your core strategy should be to stop disempowering employees, so you don’t have to keep empowering them. You can use this 2 minute Employee Value Survey to get started.

Give your people autonomy and purpose, and they will be more engaged.

people sitting in front of computer monitors

To help you get started, here are some tips to keep your employees in power:

  1. Set aside time for workers to spend on any project they want, as long as it is not related to any ongoing projects in the company. They can choose who they want to work with and how they spend that time, but also need to deliver results at the end. Many features Google offers today were born that way! You can start with 10% of the time which is just one afternoon in a full time 5-day work week and scale it up to 20% later. Either way, you will see how this converts regular down time into more productive outcomes (according to this PeopleFirst blog post https://people-first.com/blog/workplace-productivity-hacks-to-save-you-time-and-energy/, ‘on an average eight-hour workday, we spend just 2 hours and 53 minutes doing productive work.’). People might come up with new ways how communication in your organisation can be structured more effectively or how teams can become more efficient.
  2. Encourage peer-to-peer ‘now that’ rewards, instead of relying on ‘if, then’ rewards. ‘If, then’ rewards are typically the rewards people expect once having completed a particular task, dangled in front of them like corporate carrots similar to one of the red flag examples given by one Reddit user earlier. Same as with benefits, employees will come to expect these types of rewards and get distracted by them, so eventually performance will suffer. Example: ‘If you complete this project on time, you will get a bonus.’ The bonus will become the focus, taking away from the actual task. ‘Now that’ rewards are more spontaneous and can be awarded from colleagues to other colleagues at any time as real time rewards and feedback and rather than being handed down from management they offer recognition from peers for doing something exceptional. Example: ‘Hey, well done on completing the project on time. I hear you are now nominated for employee of the month! That is awesome!’ Because the employee did not expect the reward, they could fully focus on the task at hand.
  3. Take steps toward giving up control and extend freedom to people to do great work. Look into ‘ROWE’, a Results-Only Work Environment, where you provide people with clear goals, tools and support to achieve these and then let them be. Yes, that’s right, let them be. Transfer autonomy over the how, when, where and even with whom they will work and judge your employees on the results they deliver, not the time they spent at their desk.
  4. Play ‘Whose purpose is it anyway?’ Have your employees (anonymously) write down one sentence to answer one simple question: ‘What is our company’s purpose?’ The answer should not just be the copied purpose from your vision and mission statement, but what employees genuinely think you’re doing.

Image result for working adult

Then, collect everyone’s answers and read them out – are they similar to each other, is everyone aligned to a common purpose or are they all over the place? If there is a gap between your employees’ perception and your company’s reality, you need to close it! Because if people don’t know why they’re doing what they’re doing, how can you expect them to be motivated to do it?

 

In short, candidates and employees want to be treated like adults. We don’t want to have to sugar-coat our reasons for leaving earlier jobs and we don’t want to be misled about working conditions. No more ‘competitive salary’ and ‘fast paced environment’ in job descriptions, because we know this means you’ll underpay us and we will be working under a lot of pressure with the very real possibility for unpaid overtime, but we can’t complain because we knew this from the beginning.

We want clear goals (1) to work towards and the tools (2), support (3) and freedom (4) to achieve them whichever way we believe we can do best.

Because if you give us these four things and measure us on our performance, and only on that, we will have no choice but to perform – if we don’t, we risk losing our job. But if you are not providing proper training and access to information, don’t communicate clearly what you expect from us and measure us predominantly on the time we spend at our desks, we will not be able or want to give you our all.

Podcast with Northlake PG: Meet Katrin Kircheis

Katrin is taking the plunge into starting her own business and leaving the corporate world.  Learn a little bit about how Katrin has come to this decision and her journey to becoming self-employed.

Katrin encourages you to believe in yourself and find a coach that will hold you accountable and help you grow and develop as a professional.

Hybrid Workforces: Successfully Managing Different Types of Workers

First published by People First, on February 12, 2019

There are a number of questions that may be raised, “How will our full-time staff react to these workers?”, “How can we quickly embed these worker types into our culture?” and, “How do we stay ‘friends’ and keep our options for future working relationships open?”

Let’s look at some different scenarios that you might be able to identify with from your own company.

  1. Your full-time staff thinks your contract hires are overpaid and unnecessary

It is not just the job of your company to integrate contractors into the workplace, but also their co-workers. Your company has their reasons to hire a contractor and you need to point out the benefits that they receive as a full-time employee.

Beyond this, you need to create a culture of acceptance and explain the role of the contractor in a way that full-time staff do not see them as outsiders but rather someone who will help them achieve their goals!

How can you do that?

Something I often see done for permanent staff is introduction emails or meetings with the rest of the company or relevant teams so that they can get to know their new colleagues. Do the same with your contractors, encourage your staff to say hello on the day they start and provide everyone with details on how the contractor’s role will fit in with their tasks.

  1. Temporary employees are not worth investing (full-time) training in

Why train someone for the full two weeks your induction plan usually lasts if they are only hired to work for a limited time? Why should co-workers spend time and effort getting to know someone who doesn’t even have enough loyalty to commit to a permanent job?

Similar to the scenario with contract workers, a company needs to ensure permanent staff are informed of the importance of the role the temporary member is taking on and needs to enlist someone from each relevant team to take them under their wing. This can speed up the process and make the person feel welcome.

How can you do that?

A good method is to provide the new temp with information about the company, details about their job and contact details for colleagues BEFORE their first day in the office, so they can prepare themselves and potentially have questions ready for their first meetings. This is a good introduction process for any new hire, including temporary workers.

  1. Part-time work means part effort

Well, that is what you pay them for, part-time… Don’t expect the same output from your part-time workers, unless you are prepared to pay them overtime!

One way to integrate part-timers more effectively into your working culture is to offer more part-time positions, so that they have others in the company they can relate to. Simple, I know. Unfortunately, there are not many great part-time options available that can support people in all kinds of situations, be it new mothers and fathers, or someone who tries to get their own business off the ground. Our way of working needs to change so part-time becomes normal and integrates itself.

Of course, many people are opposed to working part-time because, well, we all need money to survive. Here are two simple facts for you:

  1. The hourly rate for part-time employees tends to be lower than that for full-time staff.
  2. Part-timers also don’t enjoy the same kind of year-on-year salary increases that full-timers do.

So, for companies, maybe the easiest way to integrate and value part-time workers more is to pay them fairly.

What else can you do for your part-timers?

Part-time employees have less time to get a job done, and they also will not get as much done as their full-time counterparts, as pointed out earlier. They will however need to know how to do their jobs and any necessary updates. Include them into your team meetings or lunches, give them a voice to share their own ideas and opinions. In short, treat them as an equal contributor to the team’s and company’s achievements because they are doing their part (pun intended).

In general, it helps if you have a flexible induction plan that tailors training to job types and individuals as well as an inclusive working culture and learning environment that people can contribute to. Most people are social, so not shutting contractors, temporary or part-time staff away to different parts of your office will help them mix with the crowd and collaborate with the right people.

There is so much technology you can also use to your advantage today, such as AI like People First’s Chatbot, a virtual assistant helping employees with otherwise tedious HR admin tasks.

Or trust the age-old ‘buddy system’, where one or multiple employees are ‘allocated’ to the newbie to guide them through the first days or weeks and connect them to the rest of the company.

There are some other things to consider. Sometimes, it depends entirely on the person if they even want to integrate themselves. Or the role and what needs to get done. If you hire a bunch of contractors or temporary staff because you need them to knock out a particular project by a certain time in a contained team, maybe you don’t need them to integrate with the business as usual part of your organisation. Some people might purely do the job you give them and then leave to go to their next opportunity.

However, if they are leading a team of permanent staff, then you need to make it clear to the permanent staff why they are now reporting to someone who might not stay on for long. They might cover for a colleague who is on maternity, paternity or long-term sick leave or you needed someone quick as interim whilst looking to recruit the person who will take on the team permanently, or help them through a particularly busy time. You get the point.

If a company is good and provides the control necessary to get the job done (and this applies to permanent, full-time staff as much as contractors and part-timers), people will go that extra mile and potentially come back for future projects or refer other experts in the industry. It’s all about tailoring the experience to the individual.

If I may provide one last thought, leading back to one of the earlier questions – do we actually need to think differently about integrating permanent and contract workers? Maybe if we think of all of them as people who will spend a finite amount of time working with us, we can create a shift in the way we view all worker types.

4 Practical Tips To Inspire Learning In Your Business

First published by the eLearning Industry, on December 23, 2018

How To Inspire Learning In Your Business

Do you want to offer fantastic training opportunities for your employees, to help them grow within your organization?

Do people keep telling you about all the awesome new training technologies that will totally transform the way your employees learn, like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and VR (Virtual Reality)?

Do you then look up examples of how other companies have implemented these? Do you discover that you most likely cannot compete with a PwC and their own app called Digital Fitness? This is an app where employees see how they compare against their department and organization and a tailored learning plan is created. You cannot even compete with IBM’s Skills Gateway, which offers learning journeys, events, and career planning with IBM training advisors; all these due to the fact that you do not have the same resources.

If you answered yes to these questions, then fear not. In this article, I will provide you with 4 examples that will come in handy:

1. Create Spaces To Share Existing Knowledge

In my first article, published by People First, I explain how you can create a ‘culture of learning’. It’s fairly simple; you need to give your employees space and time to learn, when and how they want to. You do not need expensive learning software for this. You just need to draw on what you have; the talent in your company and their desire to connect and develop.

You can facilitate weekly learning groups, where people share a part of their job or company knowledge with others. This can be recorded for people who are unable to attend in person or online.

You can use existing communication tools such as Skype, Slack, and even WhatsApp for your employees to talk and ask each other questions with the result of (near) immediate responses. All of these technologies are free of charge, most people know how to use them, and you can also share documents. This is particularly useful if not everyone is in the office all the time. It will help everyone to connect, and it doesn’t have to be restricted to work topics.

2. No Need To Reinvent The Wheel As The Internet Offers A Lot Of Free Learning Content

YouTube is one example that has a lot of content covering a vast variety of topics. Your weekly learning groups can follow a specific topic, which is further discussed in your Skype or WhatsApp groups.

Let your employees find useful videos regarding this topic and share them on social media. Reward the most liked/shared/helpful video with a prize at the end of the week! For example, this video about Fire Safety.

3. Work With Experienced Training And Learning Design Freelancers To Draw From Their Expertise

If money is tight, the training department is often the last to receive funding or budget allocations. Maybe you don’t have a training department. The above-mentioned methods are easy to implement, however often you will need someone to facilitate them, especially in the beginning.

You might also want to create training workshops or online modules that are tailormade for your company, and that’s where freelance training consultants will be a great option as you can flexibly work with them on a case by case basis, rather than having to justify the money for another employee.

4. Look Into Off-The-Shelf Online Platforms

There are several online HR and learning platforms that you can use, which offer a flexible approach to the way people learn. People First’s Chatbot, which is a form of AI, allows employees to lead a daily, confidential diary which they can use to reflect back on, and this makes it easier to share any struggles they might have with their manager. Litmos offers a fully functional platform and accompanying content with one of their newest additions, Litmos Heroes. You can also upload and create your own learning courses. GoodHabitz has a similar approach, offering selected content at a flat rate price and adds new courses every month to provide ongoing learning opportunities.

It all depends on your company and the ideas you have for its future, and the talent within!

Social Learning: How to Create a Culture of Learning

First published by People First, on August 13, 2018

Many companies reluctantly spend a lot of money sending employees on training courses that can last for days. During these, employees are unable to complete their daily work, which might distract them, or they are answering emails and miss important information. Often, these formal ways of learning are the only time employees receive training, which not only costs the company money, but also productivity.

Organisational learning objectives require new employees to get up to speed as soon as possible. However, formal learning only makes up about 10% of our preferred way of learning. The other 90% involves exposure to new tasks and learning through experience. This is known as social learning.

 

Understanding social learning

There has always been social learning in the form of information handed down from generation to generation. But formal teaching has also been practiced throughout history, with students being lectured on certain topics. Research into human history and neuroscience has shown that this formal way of learning is only a small part of how we retain information. All known learning constructs lead back to four theories about the way we learn: behaviourism, cognitivism, experiential and andragogy.

 

We can look at various concepts and theories of collective and social learning, such as Kolb’s experiential learning, which divides learning into a process of experiences, where learning takes place through reflection on doing. To explain application of the theories in the workplace, we can use Knowles’ andragogy, which relates specifically to adult learners. To explain learning models currently in use and the way they work, Kasl’s, Marsick’s and Dechant’s system model of adult team learning and Jennings’ 70-20-10 framework provide great insights.

Social learning is a combination of learning through behavioural observation, such as watching someone perform a task and repeating it, and the cognitive process of memorising the task. We learn from each other and document our knowledge for generations to come. We learn what works and what does not, so we can refine ways to learn through new theories and practices. Through studies of human history and neuroscience, we have discovered the ways information is passed on to others and what role our brains plays in it.

Social learning is a form of collective learning. Another form of collective learning is collaborative learning, where people work together on a common objective to either find a solution or create something. These could be people with different skills and knowledge to share and help each other develop. Give clear structures to your collaborative learning groups and assess the outcomes achieved.

As businesses review their goals and achievements, it is obvious that formal learning is not enough – people often state that they learn best by ‘doing’.

Some learning and development (L&D) neuroscience best practice implies that self-generated insights, either by observing someone or by doing something, are much more crucial in embedding learning or behavioural change than just providing the information or solution. Helping people to arrive at their own learning triggers more brain activity by creating new pathways and rewarding achievements with the release of dopamine.

According to Rock’s SCARF model, one of the five domains of human social experience is autonomy, which provides a sense of control. It is more effective to let employees have control over their learning and guide and facilitate it, rather than simply presenting them with information. Learning needs to be incorporated into the work and business structure, to be part of everyone’s tasks instead of on top of them. Instead of isolating teams, people need to share their knowledge and experiences, beyond watercooler talks. Casual conversations can lead to information being shared incidentally, even though learning was not the initial aim of the conversation.

 

Putting social learning into practice

Technology has made it so much easier to share information; however, a lot of knowledge sits either with individual people or departments. Often, knowledge gets lost when employees leave. Using technology to prompt people to share and store information and knowledge helps organisations retain tacit and implicit knowledge. This can be particularly helpful across international companies.

Structured working groups or communities can be set up on chat applications to share updates on specific projects. These groups are great for team learning, whereas informal forums can be used by teams and individuals to share insights and updates about their tasks. Social media groups help to exchange ideas between teams and ask questions on topics relevant only to them. This way feedback can also be given instantly, and learning can be built upon by facilitating Q&A sessions with more experienced staff. Teams can share methods on how they have achieved their goals and invite others to try them too.

Webinars help to connect people in different offices or countries, screen share facilities are useful for sharing visuals, and webcams help to form better relationships with colleagues or peers that one would usually not meet in person. A Learning Management System can be used to store guidance, policies, videos and e-Learning courses that employees and even clients have access to.

Instant feedback on what works and what does not can be captured using survey software, which helps the L&D team to continuously analyse and improve the training offered. In turn, employees can respond quicker to clients’ needs by being able to locate the relevant information when and where they need it. It reduces the need to redesign or restructure training, as there are different options in place that work for everyone.

This lets individuals build personal learning networks and find the best learning method for themselves, others and possibly the company. This builds collective intelligence. All this is part of the 70% experience and 20% exposure to new tasks and environments of Jennings’ 70-20-10 model. So, organised and self-organised learning needs to go hand in hand. Also, knowledge and skills gained through self-managed learning can often be transferred into the personal life and are therefore a big motivator for adult learning.

Most of these activities can be done as micro learning – bite-sized learning tasks employees can build into their working day, without worrying about missing important emails or deadlines when attending hour- or day-long classroom sessions. This helps decrease the learning curve of new employees, as training will be incorporated into what they are already doing.

Implementing social learning spaces in organisations promotes a greater presence of collaboration within the company. Siloed working gets broken down and important information is shared between teams instead of being kept separate. Taking opportunities as they come can decide if a business will become a leader in their industry. Giving employees the space to collaborate helps them to evolve and become better professionals, which in turn helps the company become better in what they are doing.

 

A new learning culture

Of course, there are always challenges we need to tackle, including the fear of the unknown, or the desire to continue with the way things have always been. People might not want to share their knowledge, holding it as leverage to be the only subject matter expert. We need to show them that sharing information is valuable to everyone.

The end goal is a learning culture where self-directed learning is embraced. This creates respect and nurtures individual performance, so we can all help create an organisation we want to work for. If employees see what is in it for them, they will feel the benefit and will be happier to contribute to the overall company goal.

So, by implementing and facilitating collective and social learning in the workplace, companies can not only save money by not relying on formal training courses for all of their training, they can also help employees learn faster by providing them with learning experiences that are part of their job.

As mentioned in the introduction, about 90% of our preferred way of learning consists of exposure to new tasks and learning through experience. So congratulations! By reading this article, you have now learned how useful facilitating collective and social learning is, what kind of technology is helpful in implementing it in the workplace, and some tips how to do so.

The Business Case for Ongoing Learning

Have you heard of the Forgetting Curve? About half of what we learn gets lost after just one day!
It is known that we retain about 10 percent of the information we see, a third of what we see and hear, and 90 percent of what we see, hear, and do.

 

For most of us, being asked to log in to the company’s Learning Management System and complete a ton of e-Learning courses or sitting through hours of live training is distracting and tiring.

We are social by nature and learn best through social interaction and by keeping control over when and how we learn. Adult learners need to know what’s in it for them, whether that is development or simply saving them time doing a task.

When people see what is in it for them, they will feel the benefit and be happier to contribute to your company’s goals. Save money and time by not relying on just formal workshops or e-Learning. Provide learning experiences that are part of your employees’ jobs, contributing to their well-being. In work and adult learning, autonomy and control over the when and how result in better performance and higher satisfaction.

Help your employees gain and retain the knowledge and skills they need to make your business successful.

Giving your employees space to collaborate provides them with a unique experience that helps them to evolve and become better professionals, which in turn helps your company grow and become better at what you are doing.

Save time for your employees and money for your company. Get stuck into the core tasks of your business, with a learning and company culture that works alongside your mission and vision!