Developers are constantly seeking out ways to keep up with evolving tech by upskilling and improving their coding methods. The problem? This self-training often happens outside of work as information technology (IT) teams have competing demands during their working hours, leaving little to no time for skills development. Additionally, a pandemic-led shift in workplace norms has given rise to remote employees working longer hours.

With increased demand for tech workers and an often-hectic schedule, it is essential that IT leaders provide developers the space for learning. By creating structured time for employee development, IT managers can encourage their employees to enhance their skills within working hours, mitigating the risks for burnout and fostering collaboration within teams. If this learning space isn’t prioritized within an organization, you may risk losing employees to organizations that promise better learning opportunities.

Here are three ways IT leaders can practically implement space for learning.

1. Start With an Open Conversation With Your IT Employees.

Deloitte revealed that Gen Z and Millennial learners cited opportunities to progress in their career as a major factor in their choice of where to work. The reality is that if employees don’t feel that they are progressing, they will seek other opportunities.

A good way to kick-start a culture of learning and development (L&D) is to ask your employees about their career goals and interests, encouraging them to be honest about where they see themselves on their career trajectory. Following this conversation, ask yourself — what are the ways you can help your employees achieve those goals? Leaders can go one step further by following up with team members on their objectives, incorporating L&D opportunities in employees’ daily routines or taking the time to provide thorough feedback when work is completed.

By encouraging open conversation about goals and interests and following up with practical ways to support their team, leaders can demonstrate a genuine commitment to their employees’ growth.

2. Set Aside Intentional Time for Development and Training.

It is essential for IT leaders to set aside dedicated learning time so that employees feel empowered to develop their skills at work. If not, many tech employees will find the time after hours, which can cause them to feel run-down, exhausted or overworked. This is a very real issue for tech staff in today’s hybrid work model — which has been adopted by 63% of high-revenue growth companies, with 83% of workers noting they prefer it — which leaves a lot of pain points for tech staff to troubleshoot.

To avoid employee burnout, IT leaders can schedule collaborative learning time, encouraging developers to innovate and build new skills together. This could look like a team workshop led by an industry expert, a competition between teams encouraging innovative thinking such as a hackathon or a forum for IT employees to discuss new trainings and IT challenges with peers. Collaborative learning can foster higher level thinking skills and can strengthen employee culture.

3. Celebrate Your Teams’ L&D Milestones

The ability to learn and adapt to new methods and systems is no small feat. When your employees actively seek out new ways to improve their skills, IT leaders cannot let this go unnoticed — or motivation may decrease. IT leaders can foster a culture of celebration by taking the time to give individual shoutouts and kudos to team members gaining certifications or progressing in certain areas.

By celebrating employee development efforts whether big or small, IT leaders can show their employees that they are truly invested in their goals and careers, making teams feel seen and valued.

Each company is going to have a unique approach to L&D depending on the nature of their work and employee schedules, but regardless it’s going to be critical to carve out the time and space for employees to learn new skills within work hours. Through open conversation around employee interests and goals, dedicated development hours and a culture that celebrates upskilling, you can successfully foster an environment of learning and innovation.