Learning at work will boost more than your job prospects
Engage your brain and boost your mental health by picking up a new skill or simply talking to colleagues during Learning at Work Week, and beyond
Whether you baked your first sourdough, took up running, bought a puppy or developed a keen interest in house plants, lockdown has been a reminder that learning a new skill can be both entertaining and can keep our minds sharp. As many of us return to the workplace, it is vital to remember that we can continue learning at work.
Picking up new skills in the workplace can have far-reaching benefits. As well as generally honing and updating your skills, which can open doors to promotions or new jobs, it can also help improve your health. Scientific studies have shown that keeping our brains active in this way can reduce stress and boredom, boost your mood and even ward off Alzheimers.
A culture of learning at work also has benefits for employers, as happy, engaged and knowledgeable staff make for a great team, which is why many companies now make it a key priority. Yelp, for example, gives all its employees stretch roles, which means they have responsibilities that take them outside their specific job roles. Pixar has its own Pixar University offering classes, while AirBnB runs fireside chats that bring in industry leaders to give insightful talks to its workers.
This week is Learning at Work Week 2021 (May 17th to 23rd), during which charity Campaign For Learning is encouraging everyone to get involved in learning at work. It is running a number of activities throughout the week to encourage us to expand our minds in the workplace, including art challenges, webinars and access to a number of free educational resources created by partners including The Open University, World Skills UK and Skills For Justice.
The theme of this year’s Week is Made for Learning, which it says focuses on our capacity to learn and the importance of community to inspire us all to become lifelong learners. As such, the organisers will be exploring how we can learn from others at work; something as vital as official training courses, with 55% of employees surveyed by software company Degreed claiming they turn to colleagues for advice on learning a new skill over any other source.
Not all workplaces have dedicated training programmes, however, so there can be barriers to learning at work. This could be down to budgets, staffing or simply a lack of interest from the management, but this needn’t bar you from advancement as you can always learn from your peers during your daily routine.
A great way to take the initiative is to talk to your co-workers. Show an interest in what they are doing, get them to explain it to you and ask lots of questions. It could be insight into a job that fascinates you that is completely different to your own role. Or you could identify a skill a colleague has – great customer rapport, for example – that you could incorporate into your own work.
Whether it is through official training courses, workplace initiatives or simply striking up a conversation with a colleague, there are so many benefits to learning at work. As Dr Seuss once wrote: “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”