Marking time... or taking a leap forward? There are two ways to handle this situation. You can either leave your employees be because you feel ‘they have enough on their plates as it is’, or you can encourage them to work on their personal growth. We urge you to go for the latter, and we believe we know how you can do so tactfully. Experiences from Techsharks, Dutch trade union federation CNV and the Amsterdam public transport company GVB have led to this collection of 5 pieces of solid advice.
By now, many of us have been more or less stuck at home for weeks. The new situation has drastically changed the way we do our work, if there is any work left to do at all. What can you do in your spare time? Watch another Netflix show? Sure. Or you could seize this opportunity to work on a better version of you. At GoodHabitz, we run monthly reports on user numbers, total study time and the number of activated accounts. Our analyst baffled us with the latest results and their accompanying words: ‘spectacular growth’. In Belgium, Germany and the UK, the number of lessons students have done has doubled. In France it has tripled, and in the Netherlands it has quadrupled. In Spain, finally, students have completed six times more lessons than before the crisis hit. It’s cruel, really, to see that people in the country that has been hit the hardest have such an impressive score.
Is this the right time?
Many organisations are still unsure what to do, since COVID-19 has had a major impact on their employees. Industries have shut down completely, companies are on the verge of bankruptcy and employees fear for their jobs. “Is this really the time to point out the importance of personal development to our employees?” It’s a question our coaches have been getting rather often lately. After all, no matter how positive and encouraging you deliver the message, an already high-strung employee might not appreciate you for it. And although not every employee will be able to muster up the motivation to do a course, our numbers speak for themselves: especially now, an incredible number of people have started learning with GoodHabitz.
5 tips on how to focus on personal growth now.
As an HR professional, it’s not up to you to reinvent the wheel. Your peers at other organisations are facing the very same challenges you are, and they might have thought of different solutions. And that’s where our coaches come in. We have 21 coaches in 6 countries who all hop from organisation to organisation (albeit virtually right now). They’re in touch with HR departments everywhere and help to determine the best approach for each company individually. By now, they know what works and what doesn’t. Enjoy the best practices our coaches have gathered below.
1. Be present and transparent to stay top-of-mind among your employees.
Organisations where user numbers and study time have soared, all do the same thing: they focus on solid communication. It's important to keep in touch with your employees and explain to them why you are encouraging them to do our (and maybe other) training courses. Techsharks doubled their communication frequency, says Promise manager Erik van Hoff: “For instance, I’ll send my direct co-workers an email saying ‘Hi all, how was your week? If you’re struggling with time management, check out the course…’ Now I can tell you this: people don’t immediately do the course I suggest they do, ha. About 15% of recipients click the link to the course I recommend, but they don’t all end up doing it. The visits to each lesson do skyrocket after I’ve sent out these emails, though. Mission accomplished, right?”
At H&M, store personnel suddenly found themselves at home. Ample reason for Recruitment & Development manager Angelica Witteman and her colleagues at HR to focus on learning and development. She was very clear from the start what was expected of their colleagues. “We used our learning platform Grow to ask our employees to first wrap up the mandatory elements of their curriculum and then to complete at least two GoodHabitz courses a week.”
2. Encourage employees to do an assessment first.
Our course library has something for everyone, and we add new titles every month. The wide range of training courses is wonderful, but choosing one that suits you can be a challenge. It can be overwhelming for an employee when they’re interested in not one, but two, three or even five courses. Where to start? Well, earlier this year we created the GoodScan, an easy-to-use self-test. It determines your preferred learning style, what your qualities are, in what areas you could still grow and which training courses are perfect for you. Sound good? The test only takes about 12 minute to complete. Based on 73 statements and questions, the GoodScan offers personal study advice, including an overview of your talents and a top-10 of training courses that are great for you.
Many organisations encourage their employees to start off with the GoodScan, because it makes the selection process much easier. At H&M, where 1,900 employees have completed the GoodScan, they’ve found that it definitely lowers the threshold to begin studying. Witteman: “We’d left it up to our employees to decide which courses to do, but we did recommend starting off with the GoodScan. And that worked like a charm, because it instantly gave learning a personal touch.” The next step – to actually do a training course – is an easy one: in the past few weeks, 4,600 courses were started at H&M.
3. Involve managers, board members and ambassadors to persuade employees.
It’s one of the seven Principles of Influence conceptualised by Robert Cialdini: Authority. The authority principle is based on the idea that we tend to listen to people who have more authority than we do. It works that way in your organisation as well: when the CEO, the manager or an otherwise authoritative figure offers a piece of advice, people are more likely to do as they say than when that same piece of advice were offered by a peer. Techsharks decided to lead by example, according to Erik van Hoff: “Next week, we’re sending everyone a video showing Techsharks managers engrossed in GoodHabitz courses. Why? Because we believe in role models! If a manager promotes GoodHabitz, their team will follow suit. The same goes for enthusiastic learners: Got a co-worker who spent 14 hours doing courses? Brilliant! Time to interview that passionate student! Ambassadors like that deserve a stage. They’re simply inspiring!”
4. Provide specific advice to save your employees the search.
GoodHabitz offers many dozens of training courses in a number of categories, so your employees can do with a bit of guidance. It’s no surprise that your sales team will probably be interested in courses like How to Survive in Sales, Happy Customers Make Repeat Customers and Customer Focus, but doing a bit of research and selecting relevant courses for your employees will encourage them to get started.
New GoodHabitz client GVB (the public transport company in the Amsterdam metropolitan area joined in April) also approached things from the employee’s perspective. Trainer Aly Lubberink explains: “For each department within GVB (Tram, Bus, Metro, Ferry, our technical departments, etc.), we compiled a top 3 of most relevant courses and put this top 3 in the spotlight for our employees. The most popular courses within GVB right now? Training courses like Safety At Work and Count to 10! (Managing Emotions). These choices make sense, since they focus on essential skills related to our line of work.” Senior HRD Manager Sylvia Immens adds: “The great thing is that our top 10 includes some unexpected courses as well. It just goes to show that people don’t mind exploring as long as you point them in the right direction.”
5. Give learning a fun and positive spin - don’t push it.
GVB is very aware of the situation many of their employees currently find themselves in. Lubberink: “Taking that step towards online learning was perhaps a much bigger challenge for us than for other organisations. Practical workers are often less experienced when it comes to online services, which could potentially cause stress. That was definitely something we had to keep in mind. We don’t want to lose touch with our people now that they’re at home. Quite the opposite, in fact. Especially in these trying times, we want them to know that they’re important to us and that we’re thinking about them.” That was exactly the reason for trade union CNV Vakmensen to join GoodHabitz a few weeks ago. “Members are showering the initiative with praise”, says Director and Working Conditions Specialist Bernard Zijlstra. “Some were already looking for training and courses elsewhere because they’re out of work, so this was a very welcome surprise. As a trade union, we’re now spending a lot of time on negative stuff such as claiming wages. It’s great to have something positive to offer as well. Ultimately, we exist for our members, and GoodHabitz blends seamlessly with our service.”
Personal development: priority or not?
Although the situation seems to be letting up slightly, it will be some time before things will have gone back to normal. Measures imposed by the government are still quite strict, and the weeks to come will undoubtedly be tough. These times pose challenges for both your organisation and your employees. It’s true that hospital staff, supermarket employees and everyone else working overtime at this time will not jump at the chance to work on their personal development right now. But it can’t hurt to let your employees know there are ways to grow even now, as long as you strike the right chord.
Would you like to talk to someone at GoodHabitz? Let us know! If you haven’t joined GoodHabitz yet, but want to start the ball rolling asap, contact us today and we guarantee that your employees will have access to our courses within 24 hours.
* Note: We will be updating this article with best practices from other organisations, so check back regularly.