woman studying, learning

There are so many weeks in support of different causes and initiatives during the year, it’s hard to work out which to focus on. 

But Learning at Work week starting on 13th May is one we can all use to springboard action, whether you work freelance or are part of a bigger venture. To make the most of it, why not start planning ahead of time?  Ask yourself how your work place, your work life could enhance what you know and your skill base?

If you go through an annual appraisal system, you may have identified what skills you’d like to develop.  These could range from learning new software, improved H&S awareness, leadership training or asking for a coach or mentor.  Once you know what you want, find out who offers it and approach your boss to ask for it?  Or perhaps you are looking to move on from your current position so intend to do initiate this in your own time – why not kick-start your activity in May? You may well find some learning providers have special offers available linked to Learning at Work week.

If you have a team working for you – what initiatives can you introduce that develop new thinking and makes them feel valued members of staff?

Brighton-based ad agency Designate is implementing an innovative training programme throughout their building.

For a whole day each fortnight, the entire company from top floor to basement will be involved in creative activity – no matter their job function.  This will include morning training for personal career development for individual staff – for example, public speaking. During the middle of the day, team development will be on the agenda – this could cover talks from breaking tech companies to running a by-invitation hackathon to help a local charity.

The afternoon is given over to a facilitated workshop on what the future of an industry could look like, with particular focus on a sector relevant to one of their clients.  Every floor, every department, every team member is involved, creating lively debate and an engaged team.

We’ve all heard companies bemoaning the fact that new entrants to their industry don’t have the skills they need to hit the ground running.  There is a great solution to this which is easy to implement and benefits everyone.

Leyton-based fabrication company Factory Settings builds exhibitions for the likes of the Design Museum, the V&A and the British Library.  Having worked with me for over four years, they were keen to ensure tomorrow’s staff members had the particular skills that this fast-growing company needs.  So we developed a unique ‘grow-you-own’ office apprentice programme.

The newbies learn about all aspects of the business on site.  This includes weekly meetings in the workshop where they are taught about production processes and materials, rather than just sitting in the office.  It is real experiential training.  After each session they are expected to contribute written content to a ‘primer’ that sits on the company server.  Added to this are structured sessions and discrete projects with different departments in this vibrant company where they can really get to learn the nuts and bolts of the business in an informed way.  The programme has the additional benefit of teaching older staff how to coach their younger team mates, who in turn ‘mentor up’ – helping those less experienced with apps and social media learn new skills.

A proactive, imaginative approach to training and up-skilling whether you are an individual or across the whole of a company’s workforce ensures an engaged, happier work life.  Who wouldn’t prefer to feel they are learning, adding value to their career and lives rather than just being on a same old, same old treadmill.

Erica’s new book ‘Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger, Better Business’ is out now. Full of her usual easy-to-use advice, lots of case studies, quick tips, diagrams and innovative ways to think about growing your business and developing greater commercial resilience – its 288 full colour pages will help you transform your business. Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Erica Wolfe Murray featuredAbout the author

Erica Wolfe-Murray is the UK’s leading business expert and the founder of Lola-Media.co.uk.

Her new book ‘Simple Tips Smart Ideas‘ is out now.

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