Learning and development in the workplace must be driven by individuals to allow them to effectively develop their own strengths and skills, according to Lisa Hamill, head of talent at facilities management firm Servest.
Commenting at the start of Learn Something New Week, Hamill said that expectations of L&D have changed dramatically over the past two decades, and that rather than learning taking place in a classroom setting people (especially Millennials) want the opposite.
"It's about learning being part of the work culture, how employers can achieve that, and how they can offer multiple ways of learning such as webinars, workshops, mentoring and on-the-job training. A few years ago the classroom was about 80% of what we did but now it's a very small part – we have had to change rapidly in response to needs and expectations," she explained.
Hamill described L&D as "a one-on-one sport" saying that "what flicks one person's switch is different to someone else's".
"L&D very much needs to be driven by the individual and has to fit in with their work and learning style," she stated.
Hamill said that learning and development teams are not actually responsible for people's development but for listening to individual needs and providing the right choices and tools.
"The danger of an L&D team is that they can think they know the answer to everything but actually we need to take the lead from those that are doing the learning – they know best how they can develop and we must be there to help provide the right solution for them," she said.
Hamill's comments come at the start of a new skills development week launched by PR firm Magenta Associates. The annual Learn Something New Week is aimed particularly at working professionals but also students and those that want to try something new - anything from photography or pilates to origami and copywriting. The not-for-profit initiative is being run for the first time this week in businesses and universities across the country, with resources available to download for free at www.lsnweek.com.
Magenta managing director Cathy Hayward said that regardless of people's roles or level in business learning should never stop.
"As a PR agency we find this is the best way to keep the creative juices flowing. We actively encourage all team members to go to workshops, events and conferences to hear and learn about new developments that can affect our clients and help us deliver new and better ways of communicating," she said.