L&D Best Practices

5 Ways to Celebrate Learning at Work Week 2018

Melissa Suzuno

HR and L&D Insights Writer at Udemy for Business

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L&D Best Practices

May 11, 2018

This year, May 14–20 is Learning at Work Week in the UK. While we believe that learning should always be a priority in the workplace, this week is the perfect opportunity to innovate and expand on your offerings. We’ve compiled five ideas—one for every day of the week—to help you prioritize learning at your organization.

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Monday: Focus on career development

Start off the week by helping employees learn about themselves. Understanding their own values and strengths will lead them to make better choices throughout their careers.
Today’s workplace is changing rapidly, and opportunities for growth may not always involve promotions. Employees are likely to find themselves switching roles, companies, and even industries on a regular basis. This is why it’s time to forget career ladders and focus instead on career development, according to Head of Learning & Development (L&D) at Udemy Shelley Osborne. To best prepare your employees for these inevitable changes, you can encourage them to develop a deep understanding of themselves. Shelley suggests that career development programs should be focused on offering opportunities for introspection, goal-setting, and mentorship.

One of the best places to start is with a peak experiences activity. This allows employees to reflect on which activities have brought them the most happiness, when they’ve felt most engaged and in “flow,” and when they’ve felt least satisfied. After employees have engaged in this type of introspection, they’ll be better equipped to make career decisions that are aligned with their values and strengths. See Forget Career Ladders: 4 Steps to Career Development to learn more.

Tuesday: Get managers and executives involved

Learning opportunities shouldn’t just come from the L&D team—by getting managers and executives involved, you’ll demonstrate that learning is a priority throughout your organization.

Ask managers to make learning discussions part of the agenda for one-on-one meetings with their direct reports and encourage them to ask questions like, “What will you be doing for learning over the next 3, 6, or 12 months?” “Which courses will you be taking?” “Which conferences will you be attending?” These frequent check-ins show employees that learning is allowed, permitted, and wholeheartedly accepted at your organization.

It’s also important to make sure that managers are also kept in the loop of any L&D initiatives so they can prioritize learning and make adjustments to their direct reports’ schedules and workflow.

But don’t just stop with managers—try to get your executives involved as well. You can ask executives to talk up your L&D programs at company all hands and share their own learning through internal channels. By dedicating time and resources to learning, managers and executives set an example that employees will be excited to follow. See 6 Ways Managers Can Drive Learning.

Wednesday: Schedule time to learn

54% of employees we surveyed felt “having more time to learn at work” would help them learn more effectively. This sentiment was echoed by 73% of corporate L&D managers who rated “having time to learn at work” as the top challenge facing their employees.

The L&D team here at Udemy created a “Drop Everything And Learn” (DEAL) program, which is a one-hour time slot each month on every employee’s calendar that’s dedicated to learning. Just like an all-hands meeting, this allotted time means employees are given the space and time to learn at work.

We picked Wednesday at 3:00pm for our monthly DEAL Hour since it’s the most popular time to learn at work based on analyzing learning patterns of our 20+ million users on Udemy, the world’s largest online learning platform. See more interesting learning facts in our Udemy 2017 Learning Trends & Predictions Report.

To get more tactical information about setting up a successful DEAL Hour, see 9 Steps to Overcome the Biggest Obstacle to Learning: Time.

Thursday: Put on your marketing hat

To create a thriving L&D program, it’s not enough to build it and hope they will come. If you’d like to see widespread adoption and enthusiasm, partner with your marketing team to create awareness and buzz. This doesn’t have to be limited to when you launch new programs—make a habit of checking in with your marketing team periodically for tips on creating campaigns and making the most of your internal communication channels.

For example, when launching the DEAL Hour at Udemy, the L&D and internal marketing teams came up with the tagline “Eat Your Own Chocolate.” To bring it to life, we placed branded chocolate bars on employee desks the morning of DEAL Hour, along with a “Do not disturb” sign to put on their computers. We also posted regular updates in our internal communication Slack channel #udemy-learns to generate excitement for DEAL Hour. After DEAL Hour, we set up a “Photo booth” with DEAL Hour signs for employees to post photos of themselves along with what course they took on our Slack channel to keep the momentum for learning alive.

Friday: Give new tech like VR a try

You’ve almost made it to the end of Learning at Work Week—why not celebrate with some exciting new technology? 91% of L&D leaders would like to implement virtual reality or VR training at their organizations, but only 2% are actually using VR in their corporate training.

If you’re interested in trying out VR at your organization, Udemy’s Head of L&D Shelley Osborne has a few tips: Consider the learning challenge and goals—be sure to prioritize pedagogy over novelty. Shelley cautions that you should always assess whether VR is the right tool for the business outcomes you’re hoping to achieve.

Depending on your specific learning goals, you won’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel—you may be able to find third-party VR content that suits your needs. To promote communication and collaboration among a distributed team, Shelley found an existing program called “Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes,” which allowed her to get a VR team-building program off the ground in a few weeks. Shelley also recommends renting VR equipment for the day of training to keep the cost down.

To learn more about Shelley’s approach to VR training, see 4 Easy Steps to Implement VR Training.

You’re now equipped with a few tactics and strategies to try out at your company. Whether you’re looking to boost adoption, get manager and executive buy-in, try out hot new technology, or improve learning outcomes, you’ve got a few ideas to try out this week—and beyond.

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