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Social Learning’s Impact On Career Development

Social learning, also known as informal learning, is taking the training and development world by storm. In Bersin by Deloitte’s report titled Predictions for 2015: Redesigning the Organization for a Rapidly Changing World, Bersin encourages companies to develop a process for “facilitated talent mobility” that make it easy for high performers to switch to related job paths or other global locations. By offering social learning programs, your teams are being constantly developed and challenged, and this leads to higher employee satisfaction and helps prevent your key leaders from looking for external opportunities. Here’s how adding a social learning system can improve your firm’s career development program:

Performance Review Metrics

Bersin’s report identified that people often have many managers and work in a cross-functional way, so the traditional manager-led evaluation is limiting. Social learning systems provide a common metric to evaluate a team member based on the time and effort they’ve invested in learning about their role, and if they’ve achieved the learning goals defined by their supervisors. Supervisors can recommend training courses that are directly related to their active projects, and this provides a framework for continuous improvement. The social learning systems also lets the team member show initiative by asking for training that will prepare them to take on more responsibility.

Leadership Development

Bersin stated “L&D should be a poster child of “people investment” in your company—creating not only great training, but also reinforcing the culture of learning.” Social learning systems rely on the wealth of knowledge within your firm, and consolidate these lessons to groom and mentor your future leaders. Team members learn the basic functions of their role faster, and this rapid onboarding presents opportunities to achieve measurable results in the short term. The system also identifies mentors and helps team members identify the training needed to move into a leadership role.

Reach a Wider Audience

Social learning systems make it possible to share your training message with a much wider audience. Face-to-face training is limited by the nature of the interaction, it had a fixed time, location, and capacity of attendees. Providing on-demand courses makes it easier for teams to fit training into their schedule, and helps avoid the challenge of last-minute emergencies causing the team to miss an important session. Due to the reduced costs of shared training, the social learning system also allows open access to training programs that would have been reserved for senior leadership in the past.

Improved Employee Retention

Social learning systems are an important consideration in employee retention. Team members view the opportunity to learn and grow in their roles as a perk, and this leads to higher employee satisfaction. Employees will also feel they have upward mobility within the firm when varieties of career paths are available. Also, cross-training your teams to handle multiple project functions will help keep people employed during downturns in the economy. As one department downsizes your teams can easily transition to other internal roles. The cost of acquiring new talent is high, so it’s better to hold on to your existing teams when possible.

Social learning systems are an invaluable asset to your firm’s career development program. By creating a culture of learning that focuses on leadership development and talent mobility, you’ll increase your team’s performance and make sure they’re challenged in their roles. Offering on-demand training makes professional development available to a wider audience, and building flexible career paths leads to long-term employee retention. Make it a priority to build social learning systems into your career development programs this year.