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Why we allocate 10% of our employee’s time to their own projects

Alex Ashman
June 25, 2024
Why we allocate 10% of our employees' time to personal projects for learning

According to Lorman, 74% of workers are willing to learn new skills, but feel like they aren’t reaching their full potential due to a lack of development opportunities in their workplace. This can lead to demotivated employees, leading to a whole host of problems from producing minimal quality work to eventually leaving from feeling devalued.

Those working at development agencies love to learn and stay ahead of the curve, particularly in tech-driven industries. That’s why it’s important they continue to learn new skills and not just because of the reasons listed above. For this reason and more, we offer Continuous Professional Development to help support our employees.

At magic42, each member of our team is allocated half a day from their week (10% of their working hours) for learning and development. This learning is offered in a variety of ways, but our primary method is through a SMART Learning Plan.

What is a SMART Learning Plan (SLP) at magic42?

The SMART Learning Plan is a personal development plan for each member of the team who has passed probation, enabling them to learn something new or refine their knowledge. Ultimately, this can help further their career with magic42 and beyond.

Before a member of our development agency can start their SLP, they sit down with their line manager to discuss any personalised goals or objectives. The areas and topics are then agreed upon before being structured into smaller steps and longer term goals to work towards. Once refined, a structure and budget can be allocated and a finalised plan put in place.

Better yet, each SLP takes into account the learning style of the individual, formed from several questionnaires that focus on the VARK method (Visual, Auditory, Reading, Kinesthetic - learning by doing). That means the type of learning content can be tailored to the preferences of each individual.

Once an SLP is in place, we allocate half a day a week (or 10% of weekly working time) for each member of the team to work on their plan. We schedule this in each member’s diary, on a recurring day and time that suits them best. This then enables dedicated time to focus on their learning objectives.

The magic42 eCommerce development agency, website and its team, complete with a php elephant plush atop a laptop

Why do we offer this learning time?

As a development agency, it’s crucial we keep up with emerging technologies and trends as clients rely on our knowledge and expertise. That’s why we must be at the forefront of learning by offering dedicated learning time for SLPs as part of our commitment to the continuous improvement of our team. In fact, this benefits each member of the team, our clients and the business in numerous ways.

First and foremost, it empowers each member of the team to work on their own skill set and further their careers. Those at development agencies are often hungry to learn and improve, so we offer half a day a week to help them do exactly that. In turn, this incentivises them to keep learning and striving to improve their skills.

With each member of our team skilled and specialised in a variety of work from clients, personal experience and their own SLPs, this helps in cross-pollinating knowledge between members (if they want it). That means if one member is interested in learning a development area they have yet to be involved with, another member of the team may already have that skill set and be able to provide relevant learning opportunities. That gives us an advantage in providing learning resources from one member to another to upskill or cross-skill them.

Secondly, setting dedicated learning time helps the team stay up to date with new and emerging technologies. In the eCommerce industry, it’s crucial to stay on top of new technology to provide knowledge and insight on how it may help clients. Some may even be beneficial for us to use and provide greater efficiencies.

Our clients therefore benefit from our employee SLPs and dedicated learning time in multiple ways. The increased knowledge can often be used to provide an even higher quality of work for clients. For that reason, clients can sometimes choose to work with agencies who offer learning time for their employees.

Finally, providing time for SLPs and other learning encourages staff retention. We’ve mentioned that those working at a development agency are eager to learn, so by providing that time to improve their knowledge ultimately helps our team feel even more valued and reach their full potential.

How else do we provide learning opportunities?

Outside of providing half a day a week for SLPs, we also host a range of other learning resources that can be accessed whenever.

At magic42, we provide opportunities for our development team to help one another in what we call ‘collaboration hours’. Development is hard and we recognise that, which is why we schedule two hourly video calls every day for the team to put their heads together and help each other achieve what they need for our clients. After all, another member of the team may have resolved what the other is needing help with during their own experiences.

We also offer full days of this, called ‘collaboration days’. On these days, we all meet in person and work closely with one another to provide what’s best for our clients. These days can also offer workshops on a range of topics, presented by a skilled member of the team willing to share their knowledge of a more technical subject area.

Other areas of learning are from our written resources uploaded to Notion. When a member of our team encounters a topic or area of development or process that is useful to share, they write it up as a Notion document. These can be accessed by the team at any time, sharing the knowledge to help others at magic42.

Finally, we also offer scheduled 1:1s in the week. These offer a chance to provide feedback from both a line manager and member of the team, which can be learned from.

All of our learning resources come together to form a hive of information in different formats, covering all areas of VARK.

Interested in working with us? If you’re a business looking to work with an eCommerce development agency, find out how we work. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a career at magic42, find out what makes us magic.

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magic42 is a UK-based eCommerce development agency, born from an award-winning retailer. Having grown with the industry since the year 2000, we provide our unique perspective to help clients get the best from their eCommerce platforms.
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