Organizations spend over $370 billion on learning and development efforts each year. While spending dipped in 2020 due to the global pandemic and government shutdowns, 40 percent of companies expect it to grow over the next two years.
Despite the growth of training programs, a McKinsey study found that only a quarter of employees thought their training was worthwhile. Their study also found that 60 percent felt their training didn’t sufficiently prepare them to do their jobs.
The average lifetime of employee skills is just five years. To keep employees up to date with changing technological trends and disruptions, they’ll need ongoing training. But how can businesses recovering from the pandemic afford almost constant employee training?
It’s not an impossible situation.
Using peer-to-peer learning methods can reduce the cost of employee training while boosting the level of skills and talent in your company. Moreover, workplace learning and development programs have a direct impact on employee morale and engagement. In turn, it can lead to an increase in innovation and a reduction in turnover rates.
What is Peer Learning, and Why is it Important?
Peer learning is a training model that emphasizes learning through teamwork and problem solving rather than solitary research or listening to lectures. The origins of peer learning are from the classroom. Some studies have discovered that allowing students to work together in small groups creates better learning outcomes.
One study found that using peer-to-peer learning methods for undergraduate students led to higher test scores and levels of confidence. Researchers believe this resulted from students engaging in social learning and peer instruction because they were discussing their answers with peers.
Peer-to-peer learning is more effective for employee’s jobs and careers than attending lectures or doing online training. Employees need to collaborate and work as a team in the workplace so why not do the same while training them?
An advantage of peer learning in the workplace is that it is more cost-effective when compared to traditional training. You won’t need to hire outside experts or trainers. Instead, you’ll only need to cultivate opportunities for your employees to work together.
What Attracts Top Talent?
Attracting top talent is a major concern of most companies, regardless of the industry. But, attracting employees to your company is just part of the battle. Inspiring them to stay with your organization can be just as challenging.
Employees, particularly younger workers, want to work for a company that aligns with their values and have a good culture. Businesses that have a reputation as successful organizations are ones that up-and-coming talent will seek out.
Additionally, over 90 percent of employees surveyed in a LinkedIn study said they would stay at a job with lower pay if it offered learning opportunities. Training is especially desired by younger employees, as 27 percent indicated they would leave a company that didn’t offer learning and development initiatives.
The point is, top talent demands learning opportunities in the workplace and company cultures that align with their values. Workplaces can meet both these demands with peer learning programs. Peer learning strengthens cultures because of the collaboration they facilitate and is a great way to teach employees new skills.
Why Peer-to-peer Learning In The Workplace Will Attract Top Talent
Peer-to-peer learning will be the differentiating factor for successful companies in attracting and retaining top talent. The benefits of peer-to-peer learning include:
- Giving employees autonomy to direct their learning and development.
- Empowering employees to decide how they want their careers to progress. Not all people want to climb the corporate ladder. Some are more interested in squiggly career paths.
- Personalizing the learning experience instead of issuing standardized corporate training that isn’t relevant to an employee’s job.
- Strengthening team culture and workplace relationships.
- Developing workplace mentors that are key to not only attracting talent but keeping them. “Organizations that embrace a culture of mentorship, and encourage employees to participate in mentorship programs boost workplace happiness and lower the likelihood of losing their best performers,” Survey Monkey’s chief research officer Jon Cohen said.
How to Start Peer-to-Peer Learning in the Workplace
Here are the steps you need to take to introduce peer-to-peer learning in your workplace and take hold of the benefits it brings:
Promote it to your organization - Reinforce that a peer learning approach will show that you value employee development, which will reflect well on your organization’s reputation. It’s also vital to explain to company leaders that peer-to-peer learning is an effective and affordable alternative to corporate training.
Survey employees on what kind of skills they want to learn - Asking employees what skills they would like to learn will help you focus your training opportunities. You may find that some would like to develop specific skills, while others may be more interested in gaining general career skills or advice from their peers.
Use mentor matching platforms to pair up employees based on what they want to learn - Pairing peers based on what they want to learn is key to cultivating effective peer learning opportunities. While this can sound like an overwhelming task if you’re matching peers manually, mentor matching software like Together can simplify the process. Consider using our program and the algorithm to create peer pairs that work. Once you’ve made the matches, introduce peers to each other and let the learning begin.
Give them guiding resources and questions to support their connections - It may take some time for peer-to-peer learning teams to get comfortable and start working well together. Nurture your peer learning pairs by providing them resources or agendas they can use during their meetings. Don’t forget to follow up with them to gauge how it’s going and seek feedback on the experience.
Foster a culture of learning and development - Creating a positive culture at work will require getting everyone in the company on board. Encourage senior leadership to support peer-to-peer learning. Ask executives to sign up as mentors for junior employees. And encourage all employees in the company to share what they learn with others.
The job market continues to be competitive as employers compete to attract top talent. Employees are looking for companies that have a reputation for success, a positive culture, and the potential to grow and develop. Implementing peer-to-peer learning initiatives and mentoring programs will set your organization apart and help you draw in high-quality talent.