12 Ways to Help Your Team Build Skills Outside Their Day-to-Day Jobs

What is a good approach for team members to work on relevant skills outside of their day to day, either on company time or on their own? Why does this approach work so well?

Businesswoman honing her skills at home

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Encourage Education

If you have an employee eager to learn new things, encourage them to further their education. You can get them interested by paying for relevant online courses that will help them learn more about different aspects of the industry or other relevant professional skills. – Blair Williams, MemberPress

2. Ask What They Want to Learn

We ask our employees what they are interested in learning about during their time with our business. After we find out what they are interested in, we take the time to look for ways we can help feed their knowledge and promote their desire to improve and learn. This tactic works well because it puts control in the hands of your employees, which improves satisfaction and productivity. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

3. Find a Mentor

Finding a mentor to guide you in your professional endeavors is invaluable. There’s also something new to learn from a different perspective, and hiring a mentor to coach you to sharpen your skills allows you real-time practice at your craft and makes you a better employee. Whether it’s on company time or not, communicating with and learning from one is highly recommended for professionals. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

4. Recommend Things to Read

Reading is one of the best ways to learn and grow your skills. Plus, it’s easy to do at the office or during your own time. Encourage your team members to read publications relevant to your industry. You could even share important articles you find online with your team members by email or in a company Slack channel. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

Employee wearing headphone accessing audio content

5. Provide Access to E-books and Audiobooks

Employees learning new relevant skills will have a direct impact on your revenue so it is something you should be investing in. We encourage people to learn more by giving them unlimited access to e-books and audiobooks related to their skills and one online course or seminar of their choice every quarter. Having the freedom to choose whatever, at no cost, keeps people busy and excited. – Karl Kangur, Above House

6. Offer Company-Funded Courses

The most effective way to encourage your team to work on improving their skills is funding their learning. Organize courses and workshops for your employees. By doing so, you get to provide your team with personal development opportunities and educate versatile in-house experts for your business. As a bonus, you also get to increase employee retention in your organization. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

7. Give Them Time to Work on Their Side Hustle

Allocating time when the employees can work on their side-hustle is something tech pioneers do well. Google gives employees 20 percent of their time to work on personal projects. This fosters a culture where innovation is rewarded. Ideas meet efforts to become solutions. The employees are motivated and get the propulsion to learn and grow, both during company time and on their own time as well. – Rahul Varshneya, CurveBreak

8. Sponsor Events

An effective strategy for encouraging team members to build their talent stack outside of work is to sponsor events, workshops and other educational opportunities. This way, the financial burden is lifted. Their time is the only thing they’re required to invest. – Bryce Welker, The Big 4 Accounting Firms

Working on skills with a colleague

9. Have Them Spend Time Working with Others

A good way for team members to work on relevant skills outside of their day to day is to spend time working with others. For instance, a team member could spend time in the office with another co-worker they wouldn’t normally work with and learn from them. You could also encourage them to attend conferences and workshops so they can learn from other professionals in the industry as well. – John Turner, SeedProd LLC

10. Create a Side Project

Whether on company time or outside of the workplace, create a side project that isn’t integral to the company’s success, but could serve as an ancillary entity. Make sure your side project has clear goals, as well as actionable steps which continue to develop our skills. For marketers, that could mean a new vlog. For accountants, it could be new software to master. And so on. – Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

11. Encourage New Ideas

Great ideas don’t only come from upper management. Ask every team member to voice their thoughts on how to better the company. Acknowledge and reward employees for taking the initiative to help grow the business. This approach forms a deeper bond and brings meaning to each position. Every team member is valuable. Give them the opportunity to make a difference, and they will. – Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance

12. Ask Them to Join Professional Meetup Groups

Meetup.com is a great website to find groups of people with relevant interests. One of my employees is part of a WordPress developers meetup and they have monthly meetings where they discuss the latest developments, tricks and socialize. It usually happens at a bar or restaurant so it doesn’t feel like “work,” but these meetups are still a great opportunity to learn in a fun atmosphere. – Amine Rahal, Little Dragon Media