As the weather heats up and school holidays begin, workplace learning is starting to fall on the list of priorities for employees as they focus on their upcoming annual leave. But booking plane tickets or staycations should not impact career progression, and when learning and development (L&D) is done right, managing learning throughout summer holidays can actually make a positive difference.
Learning and Development (L&D) centres around employee skills, knowledge, and competence, taking a proactive approach to increase employee satisfaction, but it’s also important to remember that for L&D to succeed, the human, personal and unique aspects of each employee cannot be ignored.
Over the next few months as employees look to book their annual leave during the summer holidays, L&D teams need to appreciate that personal time off for each employee is different, and as a result, their learning schedules will be different too.
But what does this look like, and what steps can L&D teams take to manage workplace learning throughout summer holidays?
Make learning accessible for anyone from anywhere, at any time
For employers, being flexible in working locations and hours is one of the most positive changes they can make, as this proves that those employers recognise the value that stable employees bring to their workplace.
This trust is crucial to employee retention, with HBR listing the 3 elements for workplace trust as being: building positive relationships, maintaining good judgment and expertise, and always staying consistent.
Not only can managers apply these elements to the specific challenges and opportunities of leading hybrid or remote teams, but they can also be applicable to teams during busy holiday periods as any time or physical restrictions for workplace learning is removed.
Instead, the shift moves creating a personal, positive, and consistent relationship with each team member. This might be through means of regular check in 1-2-1s, keeping a virtual open-door policy and assuring employees that they’re allowed to navigate their everyday lives without feeling pressured to be at their desks 9-5.
It also means that employees feel more freedom in learning when and where they can through means of a learning management system (LMS), where they can engage in learning digitally at a time and location that works around their holiday schedules best.
With this, learners will feel less penalised or judged for taking time away from the office for annual leave, travel time or personal reasons which are important to them.
Consider shift-hours for working parents during the school holidays
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics found that for parents whose work was disrupted by the pandemic, 20% said this was at least in part because of having to work around childcare responsibilities, with 47% of working parents also reporting that home schooling had negatively impacted their job performance.
And yet whilst it feels like the country is back to some sort of normality post-pandemic, the summer holidays are now here, leaving those working parents looking after their children at home for 6 weeks.
Busy holiday periods can add even more stressful tasks to an employees’ already busy agenda, trying to balance professional and childcare needs. For L&D, ensuring each employee’s workload is manageable reduces the likelihood of stress, employee dissatisfaction and burnouts, and enables the working-parent enough time to focus properly on both their children and career.
Considering arrangements such as term-time working, split morning or afternoon shifts, or even annualised hours can allow businesses to plan their workloads to meet the needs of the business and working parents. It will also prove to the employee just how valuable and appreciated they are, that their organisation is willing to adapt around their personal needs.
Trial a 4 day week method
Since a healthy work/life balance leads to us being the best version of ourselves, perhaps the 4 day work week is the big shift we need to make that balance possible.
According to 4 Day Week Global, their working model can help to boost productivity, improve wellbeing, increase employee engagement, make recruitment and retention far easier, and establish companies as innovative and progressive.
Summer could also be the perfect time to test this too, with the idea that those 4 days will be boosted, and more urgency will be placed on workplace learning engagement, whilst also taking less of an impact whilst employees are out of the office anyway.
Set goals and realistic deadlines
When we think of traditional learning techniques, managers or senior executives have often been held accountable for a lack of internal training engagement, rather than learners themselves. Now, however, there’s a strong focus on the learner to drive performance change, as the focus shifts towards individual development instead.
This is a change in behaviour that means it’s the employees main responsibility as the learner, and therefore they should understand that their personal success rests with them.
To make this change especially effective throughout the summer months, L&D teams can use their LMS to set goals and completion dates which are realistic for each learner, depending on the time off.
For example, if a learner has a 2 week holiday booked, it isn’t feasible to set their learning deadlines as their first day back in the office Instead, completion dates could be staggered in bitesize chunks, or set earlier than the holiday dates to account for extra time.
Adding too much pressure for a learner to complete a series of modules within their first few hours back, is never going to work. Respect their time and give them some breathing room; realistic deadlines are much more likely to be met.
Allowing employees to learn, grow professionally, and upskill whilst working around their personal time off has many benefits. From happier and productive staff, to increased talent retention, and closed knowledge gaps. Companies are beginning to see that continued and consistent learning flexibility having a hugely positive impact now and will continue to help them thrive in the future.
This is where BuildEmpire comes in; the platform provider to help implement practices and programs that effectively engage and motivate employees, every day.
Our goal is to deliver solutions that not only meet your learning and business goals, but exceed them, and as your technical partner, we’ll work with you to build an engaging learning environment that fits the needs of your business and learners.