How to Promote Social Learning

#TChat has done it again! Another wonderful chat last Wednesday has given me some really great information for today’s blog post. Last week we discussed the importance of promoting a learning culture in the workplace. Many participants chimed in and let us know what they suggested in order to create in an environment where social learning could succeed. As usual, the chat is comprised with some really fantastic people that had some great input on the topic.

An environment and workplace culture that promotes continuous learning is key in aiding a company towards a constant, successful future. Here are some ways you can encourage learning within your workplace:

  • Don’t hand out answers: If someone comes to you looking for help or an answer, make them think.  Ask them questions that could help them learn where to look for a useful resource, or ask them questions to help them critically think and potentially come up with the answer on their own. Sometimes people know the answer, they just need a question to help them lead to it.
  • Create a safe environment: Allow people to feel like they can freely voice their thoughts, feelings, suggestions, and concerns without being judged.
  • Encourage people to challenge the status-quo: Things change because people question if what’s currently in place is relevant. Allow people to challenge what is currently there so they can investigate new trends and resources and hopefully come up with a better solution that will work presently or in the future. This can allow business progression.
  • Encourage people to share: Allow people to come to you and openly share new resources for learning and information. Sometimes people can find new things that the L&D or HR department may have never stumbled upon.
  • Be adaptable: Things change fast, so be sure to keep up. Don’t teach things or use methods that are out of date, otherwise you may have reversed learning and growth rather than helped.
  • Be open to different learning options: Many people think that learning is only conducive in classrooms and workshops but technology has opened up other outlets for learning. For example, I learned so much from different professionals that I networked with via Twitter chats and LinkedIn discussions. I never thought those social media sites would be as useful as it truly was.

Learning is important for your employees’ personal and professional growth. When your employees grow, they are able to bring more to the table and help your company reach new heights. Promote learning in your company- it can benefit all that are involved.

For more information about this topic, check out Meghan Biro’s article in Forbes and the #TChat Slideshow that Sean Charles created.

Also, be sure to join #TChat on Wednesdays at 7PM EST

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Is your Company “Perky”?

Last night, I was introduced to the #tchat on Twitter. It was the first Twitter chat that I’ve been involved in, so it was pretty interesting to see how ideas and feedback could be effectively expressed with only 140 characters. I was really impressed by all the great responses the members gave during the chat session that it actually helped spark the idea for today’s post, which is about company perks.

The basis of the chat was about companies with “extreme perks.” Now, I’m used to the usual perks of health care, Employee Assistance Programs, and paid time off. But in order to really get an idea of an “extreme perk”, I had to dig a bit deeper. I researched the 100 best companies to work for in 2012 and narrowed my investigation down to the top companies for the best unusual perks. Below are three companies from that list and the extreme/unusual perk that they offer:

1. Google (obviously)- If you’re a dabbler, you’ll enjoy their perks of: free gourmet food; an outdoor sports complex; “nap” pods; a bowling alley; celebrity visitors; and free android devices.
2. NetApp– If you’re “working on your fitness”, you’ll be sure to enjoy their perks of: basketball courts; massage rooms; exercise classes; outdoor sand volleyball; and the hub for different sporting tournaments.
3. Zappos.com– If you’re preparing for a “superhero” lifestyle, their version of “Employee of the Month” program is a perk for you: employee is named “Hero” of the month; a parade in their honor; noise makers and the “I Need a Hero” song played for them; a covered parking spot (Nevada is hot!); a Zappos gift card; and of course, no hero can go without a cape.

Perks can be a great thing for your company if used properly. They can attract talent or potentially help talent choose your company over a competitor. They can make the workplace more enjoyable to be at, thus reducing absenteeism. They can be used to recognize employees’ efforts, making them feel appreciated. It can help reduce stress in employees’ personal lives if they work long hours (i.e. on-site dry cleaning, cafeterias, on-site baby care). And it can be a tool to motivate employees to reach company goals.

Although these are some great ideas, they are only possible if you are a giant in the business world. If your business is not quite on that level yet, there are plenty of other options you can choose that will be better suited for your company. Some suggestions from #tchat’s members were:

• Doughnut or bagel day on Fridays.
• Gift cards given to an employee that went “above the call of duty.”
• Tickets to local sporting events.
• Giving a few hours of “free” PTO to the employee of the month.
• Randomly allowing “casual days” throughout the month.
• Creating a company team for your local sport and social club.
• Company events such as a picnic, in which employees can bring family and loved ones.
• Public “Fuzzies” (saying thanks to a teammate during a meeting).
• Or simply just saying thank you to your employees and giving specific reasons why you appreciate their work.

No matter how extreme or simple your company perks are, they can make all the difference to your employees. You may find it wise to ask your employees what they would want for a perk and try to incorporate it in your plan. Test a few out and see the positive difference it can make.

Links:
Google Perks
Zappo’s Heroes
NetApp’s Sports Hub