There’s plenty of time in 40 hours to invest in learning on the job

The idea that individuals should invest their own time in learning, and should be expected to work 40+ hours a week is too prevalent. And so are the results, or lack thereof:

  • Employees are mentally sapped from long work weeks, learning isn’t productive.
  • Learning is inconsistent. Individuals with a passion for learning will learn. Others that don’t have a passion for it, won’t. Many are stuck in between, not sure what to invest in learning.
  • Learning isn’t aligned with organizational improvement. It’s driven by the interests of the individual. It’s their free time after all. The learning that happens will have marginal impact on the organization.
  • Knowledge won’t spread. If individuals learn independently, they’ll likely apply their learning independently. They’ll retain knowledge and those around them may take notice, but others won’t be aware. If learning isn’t valued, the organization certainly won’t have a system in place to distribute knowledge. This leads to fragmented processes.
  • Sends the message that learning isn’t important. If it isn’t valuable to do on the job, why is it valuable at all? Individuals that haven’t bought into the idea of lifelong learning, they won’t be encouraged to do so. Individuals that know the value of learning will feel cheated or devalued. They know the organization benefits without supporting the investment.

If an organization invests in learning on the job, the following results are more likely:

  • Learning is more productive because it can be prioritized before individuals have mentally checked out for the week.
  • Learning is more likely to happen.
  • Those that struggle with learning can receive the support they need to reap the benefits of learning. Subsequently, they’re more likely to buy in to lifelong learning.
  • Those that love learning can align learning with organizational improvement.
  • Learning becomes a tool to invest in improving the organization. It can be designed and executed in terms of desired improvements.
  • Knowledge will be shared. Processes to disseminate knowledge can be developed.
  • Sends a message that the organization values the results of learning.
  • Individuals can use their free time to pursue interests beyond organizational improvement. Some of which may come back to benefit the organization too.

If you don’t value learning, by all means tell your employees they need to learn on their own time.

However, if you recognize learning as a viable means to invest in the effectiveness of your organization, then learning is important enough to find time within the first 40 hours of every week.

If you don’t think that’s possible, here’s a list of things that can happen after 40 hours to make room for learning:

  • Meetings that serve no purpose.
  • Filling out bureaucratic paperwork that isn’t necessary.
  • Commuting to an office every day of the week.
  • Filling out timesheets.
  • Doing things that you should delegate or outsource. What’s more valuable? Saving ten dollars or investing an extra hour in learning geared toward organizational improvement?
  • Work that provides profit beyond what’s necessary for the business to be sustainable. In other words, you’ve worked enough. Invest in working smarter in the future. That will guarantee long term sustainability.

In the last month, what have you done to improve the effectiveness of your organization?