Spending time on social media at work is a no-no at many companies. Employers want their employees working, not checking Facebook or reading Twitter posts. But what if the two weren’t actually mutually exclusive?
Writing for Search HR Software, Albert McKeon makes just that argument. “Employees aren’t just wasting time on social media; some are learning the career skills that will take them to the next level,” he writes. “Word to the wise: Companies and HR departments need to take note of this learner-driven model of continuous and collaborative learning and use it to inform their corporate learning programs.”
There are a number of options available to employees looking to boost their skills and education on their own time. McKeon discusses platforms such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs provide free, or very low-cost, opportunities to take post-secondary-level courses from experts in the field on an employee/student’s own time and at his or her own pace.
Similarly, employees looking to augment their workplace training and development have tremendous access to peer-sourced support material, from online discussion boards to YouTube videos providing lectures or demonstrations.
McKeon argues that companies should proactively encourage employees to take advantage of such resources to help facilitate and support their employer-provided training or even as a replacement for such training.
This doesn’t mean that employees need to be given free rein to do so during work, however. Instead, employees could be given a certain amount of allocated time per week or month to pursue work-related training. Or they could simply be encouraged to do so on their own time. There’s also a role for L&D staff within the organization to provide some guidance to employees by, for example, pointing out particularly credible or noncredible sources.
Social media can be about far more than looking at pictures of a friend’s baby or most recent exotic trip. This communication channel is so pervasive and so broadly used that it should be a key go-to resource for employee training and development.