How collaborative learning can benefit your organisation

by Rossa Brown

Collaborative learning and employee engagement

Collaborative learning works on the principle that people learn from each other when they're together. We look at how it can help your organisation.

The basic idea behind collaborative learning is that by working together, people can learn from one another to develop their knowledge and skills. The emphasis is on achieving a common goal. Whether that's completing a task, solving a problem or designing a product.

Collaborative learning can happen between two individuals or a whole group of people. It results in a more educated, skilled and engaged workforce – and reduces the need for formal training.

Collaborating in the cloud

Collaborative learning isn't a new phenomenon. After all, people learn from working together all the time. But it is becoming increasingly important in today's workplaces as we become more connected than ever before.

Collaborative learning is now much easier thanks to advances in technology, such as high-speed broadband, file sharing and video conferencing.

And the rise of cloud computing has seen collaboration tools come into their own, enabling colleagues to work together more effectively. So much so, that 49% of employees now think instant messaging tools help increase team collaboration in the workplace.

For employers, there are several benefits to collaborative learning.

It develops employee skills and knowledge

By sharing ideas and working closely together, employees learn how others think and operate. If there's more communication between departments within an organisation, people can understand how the whole organisation works.

This type of collaboration enables organisations to share knowledge and build a more cohesive, efficient workforce.

It improves relationships across teams

The rise of remote working means that teams are no longer always in the same building or country.

Collaborative learning allows people to foster relationships across remote locations and retain a strong sense of community with others.

Collaboration tools such as Workplace can help. If someone is working on a particularly challenging task, they can get instant guidance and feedback through Workplace Chat, for example.

They'll also feel part of the ongoing company conversation in the company News Feed. This surfaces the updates and information relevant to each person wherever they are.

It enables everyone to take part

Some people don't flourish on informal training. This can be because they're shy of speaking up in a group. Collaborative learning gives space for everyone involved to contribute naturally to the process.

It solves problems faster

A problem that may take one person two weeks to solve on their own, may only take a matter of hours in a collaborative environment. When you have access to a wide pool of talent with unique skill sets and perspectives, you're more likely to find the answer than when working alone.

It appeals to Generation Y

Millennials have grown up with technology that means they're always connected. They also rely on it to do their jobs better. For that reason, they tend to gravitate towards organisations that work in a collaborative way.

By applying this style of learning to your business, you can market yourself as a forward-thinking workplace. Collaboration is also a good way to retain staff as it increases employee engagement and morale.

It helps new employees get up to speed

New recruits learn best from their colleagues and line managers. A culture of collaboration will help to put them at their ease from the get-go and smooth the onboarding process.

Collaboration nurtures the mentor-mentee relationship between new employees and their more experienced colleagues. The mentor can learn too – as the mentee might spot a better way of doing things that the organisation hadn't thought of before.

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