7 Tips to Start a Peer Learning Program

Have you ever watched your favorite band perform live and thought, I really wish I could play guitar? Thanks to the explosion of free content and the popularity of sites like YouTube, you can borrow your neighbor’s guitar, pull up a how-to video, and start teaching yourself how to play guitar in a matter of minutes.

We are living in an era where new skills and information are only a click away, and this has fundamentally changed the way we learn both as consumers, and as employees. Based on internal research, we believe a majority of learning takes the form of informal knowledge sharing in a peer-to-peer setting. And thanks to new learning technology, we can provide employees with a similar consumer learning experience in the workplace.

There are several benefits to developing a peer learning program at your company. First and foremost, you’re unlocking a wealth of employee knowledge. It is likely that many of your employees are already experts in a specific skill and train others continuously (we all know someone who is constantly called on to teach sales people the secret sauce for getting a stalled prospect to reengage), especially in onboarding situations. Just think if you could capture that information once and share it with your entire workforce exactly when they need it?

Peer learning allows you to identify where knowledge gaps exist, so you can task the right people with closing those gaps in an engaging and efficient way.

Besides saving everyone valuable time and resources, peer learning allows you to capture institutional knowledge that might otherwise disappear when an employee changes positions or leaves the company. Recorded training materials can also strengthen the accuracy and understanding of the content—for example, when watching someone’s video on how to input customer information, you might notice that the simplified process for address verification isn’t widely used across the company. So you could record a video and insert short quiz questions to help colleagues check that they understand correctly.

In short, peer learning allows you to identify where knowledge gaps exist, so you can task the right people with closing those gaps in an engaging and efficient way. This in turn can increase accuracy while cutting down on errors, which ultimately helps the bottom line.

Getting Started with Peer Learning

To get the creative juices flowing, here are seven tips for initiating a peer learning program:

  • Get executive support. This first step is crucial to ensure your program gets off the ground successfully. To earn support, show your executives why peer learning is effective and worthwhile through data and research.
  • Form a governance committee to set the strategy of your program. Decide who will manage tasks such as corporate branding, program guidelines, and the creation of peer learning teams.
  • Create a set of business processes. Start by training your employees on how to create peer learning content, then decide what business processes need to be in place to ensure accuracy, compliance, and alignment with broader organizational goals. User-generated videos can easily be developed and shared with peers—make sure to have general guidelines in place for appropriate topics to address.
  • Identify experts in your office. Companies with established peer learning programs usually see only a small portion of their employees creating content, so having someone from each team responsible for recognizing and encouraging in-house experts will help jumpstart participation.
  • Promote a peer learning environment centered around trust and transparency. Determine a review process to help manage quality control, provide constructive feedback, and encourage participation in your program. At the end of the day, you want your content to be useful and accessible to everyone.
  • Monitor how the content is being consumed. If you are using Workday Learning, you can keep track not only of who is consuming content, but also who is creating it and how they are rating it. Go back and review low-rated videos to find out what is not resonating with employees, or give recognition to employees who make great content.
  • Promote user engagement. Comments and feedback will encourage discussion and can be used to improve the quality of the content over time. You will probably start to notice certain types of videos trending—maybe your employees are fans of screencasts over webcams or quizzes and games rather than lectures.

Sometimes, the best way to encourage your employees to share what they know is to show them how simple the process can be. Once they’ve mastered creating their own content, you can take it a step further with new Workday Learning functionality that enables interactive video. In my next blog post, I’ll share a video  that will show how this is done in action.