Do it Yourself: Employee-Led Learning in the Workplace

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A shift to employee-led learning in the workplace demonstrates that some companies are empowering employees to take responsibility for their own professional development. Employee-led learning allows workers to create their own learning experiences and learn more efficiently and effectively. 


The rise in employee-led learning is driven in part by the recognition that employees have different learning needs, efforts to keep pace with the changing workplace, and agile workplaces leading the way with on-demand information and adaptability. 


By having control of their own learning paths, employees can personalize skill building and professional development, and focus on readily accessible, relevant resources. 


How Managers Fit In With Employee-led Learning

It’s worth noting that employee-led learning doesn’t mean employers should be completely hands-off or that managers can’t manage. Organizational responsibility should include both employees and executives, as well as L&D. 


Managers can help monitor employee learning journeys without being restrictive, and guidelines can provide needed structure. “To inspire self-direction, a culture of continuous learning and development must come from the highest levels of the organization,” and leaders need to communicate that learning is part of everyone’s job.


Learning Is Not an Option—But Failure Is

Managers can help make learning “an expectation—not an option” that fits in with regular work by encouraging and supporting continuous learning, and positioning learning as opportunity for growth rather than just a path to promotion. 


Encouraging employees to be curious and experiment with their development can help them feel more open to exploring new behaviors and find purpose in learning at work. 


Strong cultures of learning celebrate employee success—and don’t ignore failure. Instead, employees need to be allowed to fail, feel comfortable doing so, and learn from it.


Companies can invest as much money as they want into developing their employees, but leaders need to put in the work to build a learning culture: “If you’re a manager who wants to grow your team, demonstrate that you’re committed to growth yourself.”


For more on creating a culture of continuous learning, check out our ebook, “Culture of Learning.”


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