The workplace is constantly changing and evolving which is also the case with how we learn. Informal training can ensure that employees are acquiring the skills and knowledge that is required to adapt to the fast-paced working environment. Training more broadly can lead to several benefits including enhanced employee performance, engagement and retention. Informal training specifically can foster a culture of learning and collaboration in the workplace, where employees are encouraged to share their knowledge, seek feedback, and support each other’s growth.
What is informal training?
Informal training is any learning activity that happens outside of formal courses or structured programs, such as on-the job training, peer feedback, self-directed learning and mentoring. Informal training can be more cost-effective, flexible and relevant to their role than formal training. It can also allow employees to decide how and what they want to learn.
Types of informal training
One common type of informal training in the workplace is mentor programs. Mentoring is generally considered to be a relationship between a more experienced and a less experienced employee, where the mentor provides guidance, support, and advice to the mentee. However, mentorships are relationships between two people who plan to learn from each other in a formal or informal fashion. Mentors can provide the mentee with guidance on their careers, help develop their skills and provide them with support.
Regardless of whether mentoring is a casual conversation with problem solving objectives or a more formal program, developing mentoring relationships can have several benefits for the mentor themselves. It allows these employees to gain new perspectives, enhance their leadership skills and share their expertise with others.
Some organisations have structured mentoring programs with preassigned mentors and specific objectives. These programs likely have training initiatives and guiding materials for both the mentor and mentee. Informal mentoring occurs naturally within the workplace, which can be great for developing relationships, fostering innovation and creating professional networks in the business.
For mentoring to be effective, it requires commitment, trust, and communication from both parties. At the beginning of the mentorship, both parties should set clear expectations and any boundaries to ensure that they are both on the same page. For example, the goals of the mentorship, what the responsibilities are, how often they will meet and the length of the program or conversation. Building rapport and trust in the mentorship is also key for its success. Both parties should be respectful and supportive of each other. The mentor and mentee should also be open-minded and willing to hear a different perspective. In instances where the mentor is providing feedback, they should ensure that this is relayed constructively, without any judgement and accompanied by supportive suggestions. However, it is also key for both the mentor and mentee to celebrate their successes along the way and recognise any achievements that they have had.
Like any other type of training, it should be evaluated regularly to ensure that it is on the right track and assess whether any changes need to be made. Both parties should ask whether the program has been effective, if they are meeting the goals that they have set or if another type of program would be more beneficial.
About Employment Innovations
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The information provided in these blog articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.