How will peer learning help your workforce?

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Training employees is a critical aspect for any company. There are a variety of methods and techniques used to conduct effective training sessions. There are workshops filled with presentations, guest speakers, and offsite team building days. With so many different options and approaches, how do you find the right one?

Training is a large investment in employees. Therefore, you want to make it effective; you want employees to be engaged. They need to retain company information and be able to use this knowledge in their role.

What is peer learning?

One approach that is turning heads is peer learning. This method is just as it sounds, employees learning from each other. Peer learning is a strategic method that eliminates outside consultants or meeting facilitators to conduct training. After all, your employees are the ones who are well versed in their jobs. They know the systems, they know the culture and most importantly, they are the ones who are experts in their jobs.

How should businesses approach peer learning?

Peer learning is simple in theory but it is not as easy to execute in the workplace. This is a very different approach to employee training. Since the nature of it is one-on-one, it requires a different structure and set up.

When you think about the traditional education system, there is a teacher in the front of the classroom. They create the lesson plan, they deliver the lesson and they grade the students’ work from the lesson. It is a very one-way learning structure. The teacher addresses the student and the student learns.

However, teaching tactics have evolved to adapt to multiple learning styles. More schools are integrating collaborative approaches. They encourage an interactive, hands-on learning style. This facilitates two-way communication and learning.

In business, all of your employees will have different learning styles. Let’s say you have a relatively new online inventory management system. Some employees will learn the basics through an instructional presentation. They will take notes and be able to grasp the gist of the online inventory management system without much instruction.

However, some employees will be visual learners and need to see the online inventory management system in motion. Through peer learning, staff in the warehouse can show another warehouse employee how it works throughout the day. This peer learning will provide a great opportunity for the employee to see its actual application in a real work setting.

Peer learning encourages employees to work in a symbiotic manner. There is give and take from both ends. They can build bonds and rapport with each other quickly. This also creates a secure place where employees can ask questions to other peers later down the track. Peer learning welcomes teamwork at the time and thereafter.

When you are a new employee, you are often trained in a group of new employees. You meet the training facilitator but only have the chance to talk with other newcomers. With peer learning, you are introduced to staff sooner. This allows new employees to integrate better not only with the systems, but with the company culture as well.

Peer learning has several advantages in workplace training. By connecting peers to each other they can connect and build a dynamic work environment.

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Melanie - Unleashed Software

Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.

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