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8 Benefits of Peer Learning in the Workplace

94% of employees more likely to stay when L&D offered

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Whitney Johnson once said “If a person can’t grow with a company, they will grow away from it.” 

So, when 94% of employees are more likely to stay within a company that actively invests in their learning and development (L&D) (1), it’s worth looking at ways to best teach those who want to learn.  

Social learning is one of the most influential ways that we can learn, so it’s no surprise that 55% of employees will turn to their peers for advice before going to their manager or boss (2). Employees need more than traditional, one-way learning strategies - it’s all about engagement beyond satisfaction.  

In this blog, we’ll guide you through 8 benefits of incorporating peer learning into your L&D program:  


What is Peer Learning?   

 

Simply put, peer learning is a collaborative technique workplaces use to promote teamwork to reach a goal, complete a task or to learn new knowledge. Instead of learning directly from a leader or manager, employees work together and learn from each other.   

 

When employees guide one another, brainstorm ideas, answer questions and discuss learnings, the social interaction not only benefits their ability to learn but their overall confidence in their growth. In fact, a 2020 study found that peer learning helps with metacognition, clarity of understanding and increases confidence in the task after discussion (3). Employees gain knowledge, practice, discuss and receive feedback.  

 

Better yet, peer learning harnesses existing skillsets and knowledge within the organisation without the need to outsource training elsewhere.   


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Why is Peer-to-Peer Learning Critical for Workplaces?   

  

Finding the best way for employees to grow within the company and learn new skills is hard work. In fact, around 75% of companies struggle to get the result they want from their L&D programs (4). But, we know that the more learning opportunities a company provides, the more likely employees will stay. There is always the demand to invite more engagement within an organisation. 

 

Peer learning breaks through conventional learning, allows the organisation to reinvest in existing employees, and further invest in new employees. It helps develop communication styles, strengthens teamwork and company culture and indirectly builds management skills.  

 

When peers teach other, they tend to be more mindful of their messaging, ensure their feedback is more meaningful, constructive and clear in a way that a manager may not.  

 

So, here are key benefits of peer learning in the workplace to take note of:  

 


1. It Builds Learning Retention   

  

We all know what’s it like to forget something - it’s human nature. But while it’s not completely avoidable, there are ways to help us retain information more effectively. Peer learning is one of them.  

 

But before we get into that, let's go back to the work of Herman Ebbinghaus and his discovery of the forgetting curve.  

 

Ebbinghaus’s research looked into how humans forget information. He found that we tend to forget 70% of what we learn within 24 hours and up to 90% within a week if we don’t actively seek to retain it. The longer we wait to practice, the less likely we’ll remember it.  

the-gorgetting-curve-graphic

But we do know there are ways to combat the forgetting curve. The strongest being to incorporate active teaching methods (such as active learning and interactive learning) over passive teaching methods (lectures, reading and audio visuals). One of the most effective ways to retain information is through teaching others.  

 

When we understand a task with confidence, we are then able to teach others this method, share insights and provide troubleshooting examples. We are then able to better recall a task if we understand it, then pass this lesson onto another and provide real time feedback to the learner.  

  

2. Invites Knowledge Sharing Between Co-Workers   

   

In her most recent interview with the Growth Faculty, Whitney Johnson said “There is a yearning, deep-bellied, to learn and grow” when discussing her new book Smart Growth. The first step towards growth is a) acknowledging where we are, and b) and forging a path forward. When we learn, we grow and in most cases, this journey starts with learning from those around you.  

 

Knowledge sharing refers to the exchange of tacit knowledge between team members. This exchange is crucial - if employees were to move on from the company, any tacit knowledge and learnings risk leaving the company with them.  

 

Knowledge sharing encourages this information to stay within the organisation. Meanwhile, peer-to-peer learning encourages employees to not only coach others, but to also learn themselves to strengthen their own skills.     

 

Teams prefer to learn in an informal, less intimidating setting. Employees feel comfortable to make a mistake without being judged on their performance.  

 

   

3. It’s Cost-Effective  

 

When companies invest in their teams, less money is being spent on outsourcing training programs, instructors and workshops. Utilising the skills already existing in the company means that you’re actively leveraging company talent while bridging the skill and experience gaps between employees.  

 

This also means that if an employee retires or moves on, then crucial skills are kept within the company. Furthermore, by implementing peer learning it can lead to higher skill levels in the company - especially when there is already established rapport between employees.   

  

4. It Optimises Company Culture  

 

Employees who work together, grow together. Learning from someone who shares an equal level of value and opportunity instills comfort and confidence. Most importantly, it reassures us that we all have to start from somewhere - making the path of growth clearer and more attainable.  

 

When we learn from our teams, it encourages a sense of collaboration that we may not experience from management. This allows us to grow both as an individual as well as strengthen the culture.  

 

As a result, employees are more likely to come to each other to ask questions and solve problems. Teams can learn, share and grow together and feel more valued in their field of expertise. Company culture strengthens, employees feel more engaged and have an overall sense of job engagement as well as job satisfaction.  

  

5. It Facilitates the Onboarding Process   

  

Starting any job can be overwhelming, making it easy to for productivity to drop in the first few weeks. Allowing team members to take part in onboarding and training new employees not only helps new workers get up to speed, but it also helps feel transition into the culture. 

 

Employees feel more comfortable as they get to know their fellow team members and enables them to reach out to their team should they have any questions.  

  

6. It Facilitates Remote Learning   

 

Mentoring in general is known to enhance engagement but peer-to-peer learning also helps facilitate teams who are now working remotely. It’s easy to feel the disconnect when working from home. Video mentoring encourages team members to collaborate, learn and engage from one another without being in the office.  

 

In fact, it not only helps teams overcome feelings of isolation, but it encourages those to connect with other teams members they may not have been in contact with before.  

  

7. It Supports Overall Learning & Development   

  

When an employee teaches another, they are also indirectly filling an experience gap within the organisation. This not only helps companies who would otherwise struggle with skill shortages when one employee moves on, but it also helps learning employees to develop independence within their role. 

 

In turn, employees take ownership of career development once they begin to collaborate with other team members and gain a better understanding of their skills and experiences.  

 

Quick Tip: If you’re looking for new ways to invest in your teams and their L&D, our leadership pass gives you and your teams access to the best minds and workplace learnings. One annual pass gives unlimited access to 40 live and interactive virtual events, masterclasses and book club interviews to learn from the world's best leaders.  

   

8. It Builds Employee Engagement in the Workplace   

  

Above all else, peer-to-peer learning (and social learning in general) leads to better performance, better retention rates and better employee engagement.  

 

In fact, a 2017 study found that training and development is a crucial aspect of employee productivity and overall motivation. In turn, optimising overall performance of employees to not be more efficient, but also more satisfied and innovative in the workplace (5).  

 

Another 2017 study found that investment in training and development correlate with job satisfaction, company loyalty, intent to stay and overall engagement (6).  

  

Enrich Your Teams Learning & Development With Our Leadership Pass  

   

High performing teams need inspiring leadership to guide, invest and engage them through L&D - it’s critical for upskilling, talent retention and overall job engagement. While peer learning is just one way to boost your L&D strategy, our Leadership Pass gives you and your teams access to the best minds and brilliant ideas with weekly live, interactive, virtual masterclasses. Our speaker and authors include Jim Collins, Liz Wiseman, Stephen Covey, Whitney Johnson and more.   

  

Invest in your teams with live interaction, social learning and networking opportunities to help boost your employee's growth and L&D.   

 

   

References 

  

  1. https://blog.clearcompany.com/why-is-employee-development-critical  
  2. https://get.degreed.com/hubfs/Degreed_How_the_Workforce_Learns_in_2016.pdf  
  3. https://cognitiveresearchjournal.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s41235-020-00218-5  
  4. https://hbr.org/2019/10/where-companies-go-wrong-with-learning-and-development  
  5. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332537797_The_Importance_of_Training_and_Development_in_Employee_Performance_and_Evaluation  
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/314511076_Enhancing_employee_engagement_through_training_and_development  


Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash

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