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I wholeheartedly believe in the power of self-learning. This conviction comes from a very personal place. When my daughter was in grade two, I wasn’t happy with the math curriculum at her school. At that time, I was traveling a lot for work and, though I may have wanted to, I could not direct the learning I saw she was missing. So, I started looking for a curriculum that she […]

I wholeheartedly believe in the power of self-learning. This conviction comes from a very personal place. When my daughter was in grade two, I wasn’t happy with the math curriculum at her school. At that time, I was traveling a lot for work and, though I may have wanted to, I could not direct the learning I saw she was missing. So, I started looking for a curriculum that she could use on her own and learn by herself.

I looked everywhere.

I even made my own worksheets, but found them terribly boring and repetitive. I sought out online resources and talked to peers. Eventually, I came across Everyday Mathematics. It didn’t take much digging before I knew my daughter could use these to learn.

That’s exactly what happened. No matter where I was in the world, we would come up with monthly plans and then check in every week to see how she was progressing. She was excited and engaged by the material, eventually taking control of the monthly plans herself. She quickly showed not just how much she was learning, but how excited she was to do so.

Self-learning at iMerit seeks the same results: motivation, self-empowerment, and growth. Many of our team members may not have a growth mindset given their past financial backgrounds. Often, they have learned to reject hope, and that hopelessness has become a coping mechanism for their lives.

To inject hope for growth into their lives by showing them they can actually learn something almost completely by themselves is to me the biggest way of enabling social change.

Here are a few ways we engage our employees in their own self-learning processes.

1) Put learning in the contract

All of our employees know that at iMerit they are not only expected to work, but to learn as well. They know that a successful employee here is not just one who performs well, but who grows while doing so. It’s all part of the terms of their work with us.

2) Measure the results of learning programs

We’re a company obsessed with data, so why would we not use that internally, too? We track weekly learning on each worker in our company-wide platform. Everyone from the newest hire to the CEO are invested in monitoring these metrics, and building an environment in which we can watch them improve.

3) Acknowledge the trade-off

iMerit is a company that, just like others, reports to investors, and to a bottom line. But we also serve a greater social good, and deliver to a second bottom line of impact. Delivering to both of these well means building a system that works so that it can create impact while generating revenue. It means we must acknowledge that there might be tension – at first – between a learning team that wants to train our employees as often as possible, and a delivery team that wants to have employees working as often as possible. At the end of the day, we strive for a system that meets both of these needs. One where learning creates even better delivery outcomes. It’s truly a win-win.

4) Use a platform that works in your context

At iMerit, we love self-learning methods because they are great for contexts in which motivation abounds, but resources like teachers and time may not. For us, our self-learning platform incorporates learners, learning assistants, subject matter experts, and contextual FAQs. Together, these tools and resources allow learners to answer their own questions in a way that flows with their learning. Other organizations may benefit from MOOCs (massive open online courses), which have shown huge success in developing contexts – over 50% of users in the developing world complete courses or receive certification, compared to only 5-10% in developed countries (IREX).

We are here to shatter existing models and demonstrate that the future of work is bright.

To do this, incorporating learning is absolutely fundamental for us. It isn’t easy, and requires decisively including previously marginalized populations. But it is definitely worth it.

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Blog

Youth around the world face challenges previous generations have not. No matter how much work they put in, many graduate ill-equipped for careers. Educational systems around the world aren’t reliably preparing youth for today’s careers, much less those of tomorrow. This lack of job-ready skills holds true in the U.S., just as much as it does in developing contexts. These challenges are not only for youth or educational systems to […]

Youth around the world face challenges previous generations have not. No matter how much work they put in, many graduate ill-equipped for careers. Educational systems around the world aren’t reliably preparing youth for today’s careers, much less those of tomorrow. This lack of job-ready skills holds true in the U.S., just as much as it does in developing contexts.

These challenges are not only for youth or educational systems to tackle.

These challenges are relevant to any company wanting to stay current, grow and thrive.

So what do today’s employers and companies need to do? And when they do address these challenges, what’s in it for them?

If you want to recruit, retaining and grow your young talent, training & ongoing development are key. For us at iMerit, this means that when we bring on new staff, their learning journey is far from over. All of our employees, from executives to newest hires, are expected to continue learning and gaining skills both on their own and with our support.

Employers must integrate skill-development into their company culture; when they do, everyone comes out ahead.

In practice, this learning is guided by a dedication to integration and usefulness. We need an integrated approach so that our workers can both work and learn. Also, we focus relevant skills like English and technology to ensure learning can be applied. Over the years, we’ve taken best practices from distance learning programs, MOOCs, self-directed learning programs and more to see what works best in our context.

The outcome is an integrated, self-directed system that allows our employees to earn a living while learning, deliver fantastic results while gaining critical skills. By empowering them to be self-driven learners, we see our employees quickly develop their own problem solving skills, and strengthen their own motivation.

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The results have shown in company culture, individual learning outcomes, and client results.

The same skill-building that enables our workers to build datasets for machine vision algorithms contributes to their personal skill sets. Each extra unit of productivity delivered to our clients is reflective of an extra unit of skill-development and personal growth. By integrating learning into company DNA, we’ve seen:

  • Industry-best levels of retention (95% and above!)
  • An increase in employee-driven initiatives
  • Employee-driven recognition of colleagues’ progress and achievements
  • Improved project metrics from beginning to end of an engagement
  • Energetic pursuit of new trends and technologies

For companies around the world, integrating skill-development into company culture can look different. It might be a more informal focus communicated from managers to their reports; it could be a company-wide initiative to take a particular online course; it could manifest as an increased budget for professional development.

No matter what, we are certain that technologies will continue changing at an increasing clip. We know we want each of our employees to feel motivated to contribute their best.

Learning is the only way to keep up.

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Blog

New technologies, more inclusion It feels as if new and diverse technologies are continually arising (and in some cases disappearing). In some parts of the world, new technology brings excitement and an easier way of life. In others, new technologies might leave out entire communities. Rural and suburban areas of developing countries, which often have minimal infrastructure and resources, often make up these excluded populations. However, that needn’t be the […]

New technologies, more inclusion

It feels as if new and diverse technologies are continually arising (and in some cases disappearing). In some parts of the world, new technology brings excitement and an easier way of life. In others, new technologies might leave out entire communities. Rural and suburban areas of developing countries, which often have minimal infrastructure and resources, often make up these excluded populations. However, that needn’t be the case. iMerit and other companies like Digital Divide Data and Samasource, are working diligently to bring not just resources to these often-excluded countries, but knowledge as well! Furthermore, the newest of these technology trends can reach marginalized populations more and more quickly over time. One of these newer skills sets that iMerit employees have become experts on is what we’ve dubbed SMAC or Social media, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Together, these are the shapers of the present and future trends in technology.

Why SMAC?

With a focus on SMAC technologies – Social media, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud Technologies – iMerit teams are entering directly into the forefront of digital trends. Whether they come from technical backgrounds, or if their work at iMerit is their first engagement with digital technologies, learning SMAC skills prepares workers for the future. At present, companies that are not using data to learn the needs of their clients, or engaging with their supporters on social media, or providing mobile-friendly ways to interact are behind, perhaps even out of the race entirely. Having knowledge of the best ways to engage with these technologies, build them, and leverage them for growth prepares our workers for a sustainable future in technology. So, how do we do it?

Building inclusive training at iMerit

Implementing a training program during working hours – encouraging workers to take a break from their work to attend sessions, and counting their training hours as work hours – may not be the traditional practice by crowd companies, or even traditional BPOs, but we are neither a traditional crowd or BPO, are we? At iMerit, we have in-house teams that continually train our workers. We also partner with Anudip Foundation to provide initial and ongoing training to our employees. In one recent training session, we worked with Anudip Foundation and joined hands with the Udemy portal, which offers more than 1000 courses in diverse skills. After the completion of many Udemy courses, students can earn valuable certifications.

For our SMAC training, we offered our employees a full course on social media, mobile, analytics and cloud platforms entirely free. Anyone who was interested in the training program could attend, and we held trainings at each of our centers. With Anudip training partners, we divided our workers into groups and cycled them through the Udemy course. Two Anudip trainers visited each of our centers to oversee the training. In our Salt Lake center in Kolkata, training was divided into two groups. One from 12:00- 2:00 twice a week, and the other from 2:30-4:30. In this training our workers – and myself as I attended the training, too! – learned about the basics of HTML; social media marketing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest; how to use the cloud securely and efficiently and much more. The training took us to the core of each topic, giving us a good foundation upon which to become an experts. It was a great learning phase for each of us, and prepared all of us to take on ever more complex and exciting projects.

This is just some of the training we have access to as iMerit workers. Check out how we get ready to work on sentiment analysis projects, too!

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