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6 Ways Employees Can Make Time for Skill Development


A professional dressed individual ponders while gazing at the screen, symbolizing deep contemplation and learning

We all want to be our best selves; have an early morning routine like Bill Gates, learn to code, and be confident in public. All these are skills you can learn and improve upon.


All of these are possible, but it's hard to enact them. 


Finding a balance in life is already challenging when you are a full-time student or a working professional, so finding time to develop skills would seem next to impossible.


Unless we can magically make a day have 26 hours, we only have one other option: managing our time to learn a skill. 


What is Skill Development?


Skill development is learning a new skill or improving upon a previous skill to be efficient enough to perform a task brilliantly. 


There are 3 main types of skill development:

  • Upskilling: Getting better at what you already do.

  • Cross-skilling: Learning new things related to your current job.

  • Re-skilling: Learning new things so you can do a different job.


Skills can be further divided into soft and hard skills. 


Soft skills are interpersonal skills that can't be taught formally (creativity, problem-solving, good work ethic, etc.), whereas hard skills are technical skills learned through formal education and certified programs. (Chemical engineering, nursing, cybersecurity, etc.)


Here are some ways L&D Managers can help employees make the time to develop skills healthily; even with a busy schedule. 


1. Leverage Technology to Speed up the Process


There are several apps and software dedicated to helping you learn quickly and efficiently. Apps like Notion help you break down your goals into monthly, weekly, and daily steps and track your progress. The notion comes with pre-made templates where you can see and use templates others have made for the same skills you are trying to learn. L&D Managers can also make this even smoother by customizing Notion Learning Templates for employees.


It can give notifications and reminders so that you can focus all your time on the task at hand.


Note-taking apps like Evernote help you store all your resources, such as articles, online study materials, and videos, in one place and share them with others. All your materials are stored in one organized location, saving you time.


Utilize voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, etc., to find answers to your queries quickly. They can even help schedule tasks and remind you of urgent tasks without having to touch or type.


These small changes bring massive changes into your journey to gain a new skill and buy you more time to invest.  

 

2. Find Hobbies with Benefits - Helps them to de-stress and progress 


After a busy day at work, nothing is more relaxing than coming home, playing music, and indulging in your favourite hobby to help your brain relax and focus on the good stuff.


Here is the catch: hobbies not only help us unwind but also sneakily teach us valuable skills that can significantly help our professional and personal lives.


Few hobbies help directly in our professional lives, while others help indirectly. Hobbies like coding and content writing directly impact our professional lives. Coding is a highly sought-after skill in the digital age, while hobbies like reading and writing improve our ability to create compelling content.


Additionally, practising effective communication as a hobby enhances our skills in conveying ideas clearly and persuasively, which is valuable in almost any profession.


On the other hand, hobbies like photography and sketching might not seem directly related to work, but they still play a crucial role in our professional development. They teach us to be present, observant, and open-minded, which are invaluable qualities in any professional setting. You can encourage your employees to focus on hobbies that complement their schedule & work to find the right balance. 


3. Create Time in Between Time with Micro-Learning


Micro-learning is consuming small chunks of information in a limited time. Micro-learning is a very beneficial tool when it comes to skill development for two reasons - 

  1. It's ideal for busy schedules

  2. It enhances retention

Ponder on your employee’s day-to-day routine and observe where they get short downtimes; some standard periods are - commuting, lunch\snacks break, waiting line, etc.


Here are some excellent micro-learning platforms and apps- 


4. Automate What You Can & Use Checklists & Processes 


A person sits at their desk engaged in learning activities, while R2D2 from Star Wars sorts through files nearby, representing automation

By now, in your professional life, you might have realized that one often has to carve out free time instead of waiting for it to come about. 


Automation is one of the most practical ways your employees can make time for themselves at work. 


These are the steps you can take if you are new to the concept of automation and want to know where to begin.

 

  1. Identify Repetitive Tasks: Inform employees to take note of the tasks that they perform regularly that are repetitive or time-consuming. These are prime candidates for automation.

  2. Choose Automation Tools: Suggest researching automation tools or software suitable for the tasks the team wants to automate. There are various options available, from simple scripting languages like Python to specialized automation platforms.

  3. Learn Scripting Languages: If the team is already technically inclined, they can refine their knowledge of scripting languages like Python or PowerShell. These languages are versatile and have extensive libraries and resources for automation tasks.

  4. Self-practice is the only way: Make the team understand that tasks they’d like to automate don’t have to be huge. Even a combination of basic tasks like reporting, when automated, can help accumulate a lot of free time.


Once employees automate their tasks, they will find the time to learn new skills between their jobs. 


5. Get the manager’s buy-in to carve time for learning at work 


One of the most practical ways to find time to develop skills with a full-time job is to make time at work. Getting the manager's approval for this is a win-win situation for you and the team. It benefits you personally by allocating more time towards your learning initiatives, and also helps employees to develop new skills and adds significant value to the company. 


Help the employees highlight to their manager how the skill they want to develop will improve overall performance at work and make participants a better asset to the team. 


Employees can propose a schedule that balances their regular duties with skill development. Consider allocating specific times for learning during lighter workloads.


6. Schedule one-on-ones with the best performers. Gather insights from success stories.


There is a reason autobiographies are popular: we love learning how people found success, all their choices, and the mindsets that led them to the top.  


While evaluating employee progress, you may have come across people who have achieved great success and are balancing their personal and professional lives with grace. 


High performers are generally open to sharing their insights, and L&D Managers stand to get a better perspective through open dialogue.


Talking to them lets you uncover the practical skills they've used, tried and tested over the years, making them incredibly valuable to learn from.


Moreover, hearing about their journey and achievements can be motivating to the rest of the team. It will inspire the team and instil the belief that they can achieve similar success with dedication and perseverance.


Conclusion 


A person climbs stairs made of cubes, each labeled with one of the six tips from the blog: Leverage Technology, Invest in Hobbies, Micro-learning,  Automate, Manager’s Buy-in, Schedule One-on-ones

Many varieties of skills can help you in your personal and professional life. The struggle to find time to learn a new skill is real, but it is your responsibility to keep progressing and reinventing your life. 


To create time for skill development, L&D Managers can:


  1. Encourage the use of Technology & Software to manage time.

  2. Help find recreational hobbies that complement an individual's work & lifestyle. 

  3. Promote usage of free time to include microlearning. 

  4. Recognize which daily tasks can be automated to free up time. 

  5. Get the Manager’s buy-in to help carve out more time for learning at work.

  6. Schedule one-on-ones with the best performers to gather more insights. 


Want to learn more about how you can make learning more efficient at work? Check out this blog post.

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