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Career development and on the job learning are a big part of employee engagement. But what if employers can’t afford external trainers?
Peer to peer training is becoming a feature in a growing number of businesses and is highly rated, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.
But what if your business is a network of small businesses spread out across a wide geographical area or includes many remote workers?
The challenge is harder, but some employers are getting round it by using social media. Dental care provider Mydentist has 700 practices across the UK, making it difficult for their teams to communicate with each other.
Nicole Addy, the organisation’s Social Media Manager, says: “I heard feedback along the grapevine that our dental nurses felt segregated from their peers across the business as there were no platforms for them to connect.”
She decided to conduct a UK-wide trial of a Facebook forum as an online network, encouraging dental nurses to come together and share experiences and advice.
She says: “The forum is strictly for mydentist dental nurses and trainee dental nurses only; this helps them to feel like they’re in a private environment where they can voice their opinions and concerns. Since the forum started in August 2016, we’ve had over 890 dental nurses join. We see a lot of questions and advice on there as well as celebrating successes and general conversations. It’s all very encouraging as it shows the forum is serving its purpose of being a support network and providing opportunities for peer-to-peer training.”
To set up the forums, Nicole linked a group to the mydentist company page and set it up as a private forum whereby members had to be accepted. Using the organisation’s internal newsletter which goes to all employees she launched the forum, asking for regional ambassadors who wanted to support the running of the page.
She chose two ambassadors from each region and added them as admin to the page. Then she set up a vetting process to ensure every member works for mydentist.
Most of the questions on the page are medical ones, such as what is this instrument called [with an image of the instrument], but there are posts about anything ranging from how to order kids’ stickers to attending local workshops.
Nicole says: “One of the most useful parts of the forum is when nurses ask about training. We get a lot of new nurses asking about the best courses to help them develop their skillset, and our nurses will respond sharing which courses they’ve been on and how it’s helped them.”
She adds that the feedback has been positive and the organisation is starting a mydentist hygienist forum. Other forums may be on the way. “With a plethora of clinical roles within our business, the possibilities of future forums are endless,” says Nicole.