4 Programs to Promote Workplace Learning
There’s a lot of talk about the value of hiring top talent, but what about creating top talent? If you’re having trouble finding the skillset you need, there are lots of areas where HR can help put programs in place to guide employees’ on-the-job development.
1. Tuition reimbursement is not just a powerful benefit to entice talent, but it also helps foster a culture of learning at your workplace. Just ask Starbucks. On June 15 Starbucks and Arizona State University introduced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a program designed to allow eligible partners to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement for juniors and seniors. Partners working an average of 20 hours per week at any company-operated store are able to choose from more than 40 undergraduate degree programs taught at ASU.
Small businesses don’t have the resources of Starbucks behind them, but it is possible to offer a tuition reimbursement plan that can act as an enticement for potential employees while furthering your current employees’ professional growth. Consider reimbursement for the costs of books or offering flextime that allows students to take advantage of daytime classes. Or, follow Bankrate.com’s “ABCDs of tuition reimbursement” in creating a policy for your tuition reimbursement plan:
- ‘A’ is for amounts: A limitation of coverage is a standard procedure, and for small businesses this can be a set dollar amount.
- ‘B’ is for B grade or better: Some companies only pay for employees who excel, while others offer tiered programs that reduce the rate reimbursed as the grades get lower.
- ‘C’ is for contractual obligations: It’s standard to require employees to be with the company a set number of years before offering to cover classes, and many companies may require a commitment to remain with the company for a number of years after payment, or forfeit that money.
- ‘D’ is for degrees covered: By covering the costs of degrees relevant to your company, the company will recoup costs in the long run.
2. Apprenticeships may not be common in the United States, but they are the ultimate opportunity for providing workers with the skillset you need. Much like an internship, apprentices are seeking learning opportunities, but unlike internships these workers are typically sure of the career they want and are ready to bring a thirst for knowledge to your company.
And apprenticeships do continue to get attention. For example, in June the U.S. Department of Labor announced a total of $1,938,182 in grants through the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations program, an initiative designed to recruit, train and retain women in high-skill occupations in advanced manufacturing, transportation, energy, construction, information technology and other industries.
3. A mentorship program is another great tool for helping talented employees gain the skills they need to excel at your workplace. HR is a perfect place to coordinate such a program, pairing experienced employees with a new protégé. Both members of the mentee relationship stand to benefit from the one-on-one exchange of ideas and such programs go far in creating a culture of learning.
Having trouble convincing your leadership to take on the supposed “burden” of this teaching position? Chronus, a provider of mentoring and talent development solutions, points to a number of benefits for mentors including building senior employees’ leadership skills and abilities. In addition, reverse mentoring, where younger employees show seasoned workers the ropes in social media or other forms of technology, gains in popularity.
4. The lunch-and-learn is the ultimate multitasking tool—but these working breaks don’t have to be all about business. Encourage employees to bring their hobbies to work and take time on a monthly or weekly basis to teach their colleagues something about which they feel passionate. After all, a passion for learning is a good sign from an employee marked for future growth at your company.