Organizations that embrace a culture of learning create an environment that encourages curiosity and knowledge sharing, which in turn leads to better business outcomes. A strong learning culture can better position your organization for future needed skill shifts and primes employees to think and act more like owners when it comes to their own development needs. One effective way to promote a learning culture is through an employee-to-employee learning program. Employees develop and grow by teaching others, and the people in your organization learn from peers with first-hand knowledge of the business.
At Google, 80% of all tracked trainings are run through an employee-to-employee network called “g2g” (Googler-to-Googler). This volunteer teaching network of over 6,000 Google employees dedicate a portion of their time to helping their peers learn and grow. Volunteers — known internally as “g2g’ers” — can participate in a variety of ways, such as teaching courses, providing 1:1 mentoring, and designing learning materials, and they come from every department of Google.
Many of the most popular classes led by g2g’ers focus on general professional skills, like negotiations and leadership, and role-related skills, like sales training and Python coding. It’s also helped upskill huge numbers of employees around new opportunities. For example, as mobile computing on smartphones exploded, thousands of Googlers went through an Android training bootcamp run by the very Googlers who worked on Android.
Google still uses vendors (and a few internal “professional” trainers) to teach some classes, but sparingly, and for content that’s either highly specialized, or targeted to executives.
An employee-to-employee learning program is not about “doing more with less.” If you’re looking to save money on a training budget and mandating participation, you could end up with resentful employee teachers delivering rushed classes to confused employee learners. Before proceeding, consider potential pitfalls. One thing that has made the g2g program so successful at Google is that the employees participate voluntarily and are supported by a culture that values learning.