Want A Thriving Business? Focus on Peer-to-Peer Learning In The Workplace
Whether we admit it or not, we simply work better when we work together. Community, human contact and support have long been known to be vital to human success, whether it’s at home or in the workplace. Building strong relationships and connecting with each other often leads to improved innovation, better efficiency, and a happier environment. In business terms, this translates to employees that are happier, more productive and work processes that get done quicker and continue to improve. Implementing peer-to-peer learning in the workplace is a great way to cultivate this type of connected workplace culture and there are now more ways than ever to do so. In fact, peer-to-peer learning practices can be implemented at almost every stage of the employee experience.
Why Do You Need Peer-to-Peer Learning at the Workplace?
Peer-to-peer learning practices encourage connectivity and collaboration like nothing else. Finding new ways to directly connect your workforce, create communities for them, learn from others at work and grow is essential to creating a strong culture and engaged workforce. This kind of company culture can help to improve employee morale and wellbeing, increase engagement and improve both retention and productivity. Here’s what else you can expect from great collaboration thanks to peer-to-peer learning practices:
- Problem – solving- two heads are better than one. Strong teams at workplaces tend to solve problems quicker and find more efficient ways of doing things.
- Innovation – brainstorming and coming up with new ideas or new solutions is much easier with more people that can work well together.
- Learning – when people work well together and can communicate clearly you create a continuous cycle of learning that you might not even see on the surface.
The first days and months of a new job are some of the most nerve-racking for employees and some of the most important for businesses. The majority of employees decide whether to stay with a company within their first 6 months, so first impressions count. Peer-to-peer learning practices can be extremely effective in this area and should be a natural inclusion within your onboarding process. The best way to make new employees feel at home within a business is to ensure they are integrated within the workforce as soon as possible, making peer-to-peer techniques ideal.
To start with, don’t wait until the first day to start introducing your new hire to their team or to other important colleagues. With an onboarding platform and self-service features, you should be able to help employees connect with their manager, team members, and any other relevant stakeholders as soon as they sign the contract and before they even step foot in the building. This should give them a chance to familiarise themselves with the names and faces of their immediate colleagues to help eliminate some of the first-day nerves and improve overall efficiency.
Of course, you don’t need to stop at managers or team members. Why not set up an online workgroup for new hires so that they can connect to the wider workforce. It can also provide a safe space to ask questions that they might think are too silly for managers and is a great way to introduce new employees to your connected workplace culture. Introduce additional workgroups for teams with similar interests or work as well as empowering employees to set up more informal workgroups that could help integrate new hires into their own community within your company.
Peer learning in the workplace is not a new concept. It has long been shown to improve engagement with learning materials as well as encouraging supportive relationships, social competence, communication skills and much more that makes this type of learning more effective. Unfortunately, while tutoring and other peer-to-peer learning programmes are popular in schools and at colleges, the concept is often lost at work level just when it could be more beneficial than ever.
In line with previous research, the manager recommended content alone has been shown to be more engaging than standard learning materials to employees. You can encourage this by emphasising to managers how important it is to take a more hands-on approach with employee learning and to recommend learning content, whether it’s informal video or podcasts as well as more formal training, on an employee-by-employee basis.
With a blended learning platform, you can also combine peer recommendations with learning materials from all over the web. Not only does serving content from various learning sources such as TED, LinkedIn and more alongside your own internal learning content provide a wider selection that is more engaging for employees, but it also means you can look at activity and trends to recommend the most popular learning materials to other employees. You can even have employees recommend learning materials to improve their ranking and connect to employee social networks so that they can share content with colleagues.
Traditionally, performance has always been kept on a manager-employee basis with annual or quarterly reviews that often result in a quantitative ranking or score. Today, this type of performance process is finally being seen as ineffective and outdated. Now, more qualitative methods are becoming just as popular. As well as performance reviews taking place more frequently to get a better idea of performance in real-time, a 360-degree approach is also growing in popularity.
The 360-degree approach provides a more holistic view of employee performance and involves gathering feedback from an employee’s customers and peers as well as from managers. The inclusion of peer performance feedback means managers can get a much clearer idea of how an employee performs away from the manager’s attention or behind the scenes. Collaboration and working relationships can often be just as effective or detrimental to work quality than skills or capability. As well as other team members and colleagues you can also get feedback from managers of other teams that the employee may have worked with on a particular project or any other relevant stakeholders.
Career progression and development has also traditionally been seen as something between manager and employees or organised by HR behind the scenes, but peer-to-peer development is helping in this area too. With a growing experience gap in many industries where experienced employees are retiring and only entry-level ones are available to take their place, there is a clear need for some peer development.
Mentoring is increasingly used to help shape new hires and entry-level employees into future leaders, and with experience employees passing their knowledge on directly to this nurtured talent, this is often the most effective way of ensuring they are ready to step into more experienced shoes. Today, HRMS solutions can help provide an overview of your workforce with skills, capabilities and much more against experience and current position so you can quickly and efficiently match employees to potential mentors.
Introduce Peer-to-Peer Practices to Your Employee Experience
Cultivating a peer-to-peer company culture always starts from the top. Promoting connectivity and community within your company should be the first step, but you also need to provide the tools and resources to your employees to help with this further. Internal social networks and other online community areas alongside self-service features that employees can access anytime and anywhere are just some of the tools that you can provide to encourage peer-to-peer behaviour. Find out how SuccessFactors could help you introduce some of these tools into your workplace and make peer-based practices a reality for your company by contacting one of our friendly team today.