The responsibility of onboarding new employees often falls on the shoulders of managers or team leaders. Instead of performing their direct managerial duties, they put effort into helping newcomers assimilate into the company. They need to introduce company policies, tell them about their responsibilities, and many other things in order to help new hires become productive faster. And what if you have several newbies arriving every month?
This additional burden is a frequent cause of team leaders’ underperformance and professional burnout. Fortunately, there’s an excellent solution to this issue, invented in the early 19th century — peer-to-peer learning.
This article breaks down the basics you need to know about peer-to-peer learning, including:
- What peer-to-peer learning is
- Benefits of peer-to-peer learning for business
- How to implement it in the workplace
- The best practices on how to reinforce peer-to-peer learning
In a corporate setting, peer-to-peer (P2P) learning refers to training that takes place among employees, rather than being delivered by a manager or an external trainer. Simply put, this is a type of learning wherein a more experienced employee shares knowledge with a less experienced one. As the name suggests, relations between participants are based on the “peer-to-peer” principle. The educational process is built upon the concepts of equality and mutual growth.
Peer-to-peer learning takes its roots in the so-called “Monitorial System.” This is also known as the “Bell–Lancaster method” — named after the British educators Andrew Bell and Joseph Lancaster, who both developed it independently.
This method was used to teach children in Great Britain in the 19th century. Due to the teacher shortage the country faced at that time, high school students had to teach younger children on their own. This helped relieve a part of teachers’ burden and engage children in the learning process. High school students felt their importance and responsibility for their wards, while younger students engaged with their teachers as equals.
Peer-to-peer learning creates a pleasant work setting in which everyone’s ideas and opinions are valued. It also cultivates an environment of mutual respect, as everyone is considered to be an equal contributor to the learning process.
Now let’s look at how peer-to-peer training benefits businesses.
- Reduced training costs. Companies don’t need to hire experts or conduct mass training sessions for new employees. New hires will learn everything from their “fellow students.”
- Improved employee loyalty. With a mentor, it is easier for a newcomer to adjust to a novel workplace, understand how everything works, and integrate into the company. This reduces the risk of the employee quitting during the onboarding period.
- Reduced employee turnover. Equal relations with mentors make newbies feel more relaxed at a new place, thus encouraging employees to come up with fresh ideas and suggest new solutions without fear of being fired.
- Increased new hire motivation. It is much easier for trainees to associate themselves with their peer trainers. They’re also more eager to learn from their colleagues’ experiences than to listen to invited coaches or motivators.
- A talent pool for managers. Strong mentors are a valuable asset in a company’s talent pool. After all, a good mentor is a potential leader who can head up new projects.
As you can see, peer-to-peer learning can be a powerful, but still affordable tool that companies can use to train employees. Besides, it can help employees develop critical thinking skills, create a collaborative environment, and foster a love for learning. Here’s a quick guide to how to create an effective peer learning strategy in your workplace:
Step 1. Set objectives
Let’s say you want to create a talent pool and hire 150 new employees every month, but you don’t have enough trainers for so many newbies. Or you’re planning to speed up the onboarding process from three months to two weeks, but the L&D department doesn’t have sufficient resources for this. In both cases, you can rely on mentors who will provide newcomers with basic knowledge about the company, their roles, and future responsibilities.
Step 2. Appoint a project manager
A project manager will be your peer-to-peer learning facilitator. They will solve organizational issues, encourage peer learning in the company, and assume full control of the process. Besides, managers usually take on responsibilities such as collecting feedback from employees and measuring training effectiveness.
Step 3. Select mentors and sell them on the “why”
Once you’ve appointed a manager for your P2P learning project, they need to find promising employees who are ready to invest time and effort in training newbies. Keep in mind that mentors must have a clear and simple answer to “What’s in it for me?” Will it help them move closer to a promotion? Or is there another incentive that will keep them engaged?
You can motivate mentors with the help of both material and non-material incentives. For example, you can promise a monthly salary increase for each new hire who has passed the probation period or reward a mentor with a certificate and put their photo on an employee honor board. This all depends on your corporate culture.
Step 4. Match mentors and mentees
Pairing mentors and mentees is one of the most challenging tasks that a manager has to perform. People may have different backgrounds, career goals, and learning styles, and a great match for one person may be a poor match for another.
There should be a “chemistry” in a couple. Both people need to see a personality in each other, rather than simply a mentor or a mentee. To achieve this, you need to collect some interesting facts about your employees and pair the people up based on this information. For example, when entering the company, a newcomer may be asked to fill out their work profile on the corporate portal — relate their work experience, hobbies, favorite films, and preferred music. These are the things that generate “chemistry.”
But the manager’s work doesn’t end with matching a mentor with a mentee. They have to support a mentor in their training and communication process, e.g., by pitching an idea if employees have stalled or preventing possible conflicts.
Step 5. Measure training results
Finally, you should be sure that your training strategy works. The easiest way to check this is to gather feedback from participants about their experience. For example, you can ask your mentees to complete a survey in which they need to rate the mentor’s work, describe the challenges they faced, and share ideas on how training can be improved.
Another way to learn to what degree employees are satisfied with their training is to ask them to share their impressions in a one-to-one meeting. Their feedback will help you adjust your learning strategy and train new employees more effectively.
Consider creating a digital space for mentors, such as a wiki or a channel in your Slack or Teams workspace. This space will be helpful for asynchronous communication between peers, thus fostering collaborative learning in your workplace. Your employees will be able to share their best training practices and resources, ask questions, and get the advice they need to succeed.
You can also measure training effectiveness by using the Kirkpatrick Model. It allows you to evaluate the reaction to the learning process, see how much your employees have learned, and verify if they can apply the new knowledge in their work.
- How to Measure Training Effectiveness by Using the Kirkpatrick Model
- 7 Best Corporate Learning Management Systems (LMS) for 2023
Remember the objectives you set in the first stage? Now is the time to revisit them. Review what you wanted to achieve by implementing peer learning and measure your success.
FAQ on Peer-to-Peer Learning
Here you’ll find the most commonly asked questions about peer-to-peer learning.
To achieve your goals faster, you can reinforce peer-to-peer learning with online training. It will help you accelerate new employee onboarding and save your mentors’ time for their direct work duties.
At iSpring, we’ve created online courses about our company, which we assign to all our new employees. They free up our mentors from introducing newcomers to the company’s history and development and let them focus on other important things like providing support and advice.
If you’re new to creating eLearning content, building a course may seem a challenging task that requires IT and design skills. Fortunately, with modern eLearning authoring tools, you can do this on your own.
For example, with iSpring Suite, you can build beautiful and engaging courses, training videos, quizzes, and even role-play simulations with no specific background. The authoring toolkit has an extremely easy-to-use interface and comes with an extensive library of ready-made course templates, backgrounds, and characters, so you can create professional-looking courses in no time.
Take a look at this course created by a non-professional:
Once your courses are ready, you need to deliver them to your employees. The easiest way to do this is with a learning management system (LMS). With the iSpring Learn LMS, you can manage the entire employee learning cycle easily. It lets you combine courses into structured training programs, enroll employees into programs, and track learner progress and results.
Besides, it can help you automate the training process entirely. You can set up the platform to automatically assign courses to employees, send reminders and invitations to training events, and generate reports.
Automate corporate training and improve employee performance.
How can I encourage peer-to-peer learning?
You can’t expect your P2P learning strategy to work to its full potential without promoting it in your workplace. Here are a few ways to encourage your employees to share their own knowledge with newcomers:
- Promote the benefits of peer-to-peer learning throughout the organization
- Spotlight mentoring relationships in the company
- Equip mentors with all the basic skills necessary for effective mentorship
- Host mentoring groups to discuss specific topics
- Create a digital space for employees to discuss topics
What are some examples of peer-to-peer learning in the workplace?
A few examples include mentoring, collaborative projects, discussion seminars, peer support groups, peer assessment schemes, and reciprocal teaching.
Wrapping It Up
Peer-to-peer learning can be an effective and affordable way to train employees. It not only helps staff attain career success but also aids organizations to retain their best talent, increase employee job satisfaction and foster a culture of learning in the company.
To make the training process even more effective, consider combining peer-to-peer learning with online training. An LMS offers a cost-effective, flexible, and engaging way to train your employees on the go. They can access learning content from anywhere, anytime, and build their skills at their own pace.
Sign up for a free demo of the iSpring Learn LMS. We’ll be happy to give you a quick walk-through and explain how it will solve your specific training tasks.