How self service learning can help fill a need

May 13, 2019

Self-service is everywhere, from our banking through to will writing. We are increasingly looking at how we can be more self sufficient in what we do both in our personal lives and at work.  However, when it comes to learning and our professional development, we still have a very traditional approach to what work place learning should look like.

So, what is Self-Service learning? Is it another L&D fad or another re-brand of “figure it out for yourself” learning?

What is self-service learning?

In a nutshell, it’s when people help themselves to the learning they need when they need it and are best in a position to learn. 

The original concept as we would recognise it today, goes back to the self-improvement movements of the Victorian era as the working classes consciously strove to educate themselves further and improve their social standings. Evening classes at the local Carnegie library focused on work skills or general self-education and were structured around worker’s free time. They were key to Victorian learners accessing resources to help them there and then as well as in the future. Learners were driven and inquisitive, focused on filling gaps that they knew about as well as those they didn’t before they started learning.

And today?

Books and face to face lectures may seem old school today, but the philosophy of self-driven learning, accessed as and when you need it is still as relevant today as it was back in the 1870’s. So, what does it look like today? It can take many forms from random internet research for a project, listening to Pod casts, on-line learning to more structured dip in and out training that your company may offer as part of their wider learning and development program. It can focus on both job related and softer skills.  Content can either be generic, available from a provider, or more bespoke and designed in house. Either way, it puts the learner in the driving seat.

The pro’s

Self-service learning can be great as it can:

  • Foster and encourage a culture of self-development, particularly if as a company you encourage people to take time to learn and develop themselves
  • Be a great introduction to creating a learning environment if you haven’t got a lot of resources to focus on your internal people development plans
  • Keep costs down
  • Be delivered in both work and down time
  • Be reviewed on a variety of devices if people are encouraged to bring their own device (BYOD)
  • Be another strand to your wider learning and development strategy
  • Be an off the shelf package or be customised or bespoke to you, depending on your need and budget
  • Link into other wider resources, such as TED talks, YouTube lectures and/ or other training materials you may have
  • Tie back into your appraisal and 121 process so line managers and employees can identify learning needs together

The cons

In reality, it’s not so great when:

  • There is no clear way for employees to identify learning needs that will benefit their role and the company
  • The content on offer isn’t linked to the wider organisational goals
  • The expectations of what the training on offer can deliver or will be like
  • The company culture doesn’t encourage people to learn by themselves
  • Follow up on whether training happens or not is lacking
  • Even a simple process to encourage learning to transfer back into work doesn’t exist
  • There is no easy way of monitoring return on your investment and the positive impact on the business
  • Your employees prefer a more structured learning process

So where next?

On balance, self-service learning offers a great way to meet learning needs on the cheap and empower your team to continue to develop themselves.  However, to really succeed, it needs to be supported by a culture that supports curiosity, continuous growth and employee driven career development.  The very things that made the Victorian self-service learning “fad” boom!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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