In my school leaving assembly, my headteacher told us all that “Lessons are good. Never stop having lessons. Always keep learning.”. The concept of continuous learning, constant learning, lifelong learning, whatever you wish to call it, is the embodiment of this. Defined as the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge.”1, continuous learning can set you up for success, both personal and professional. Here I will be focusing on the professional side, why implementing a culture of learning in your workplace is beneficial, and how to make your workplace more learning-oriented.
1(Department of Education and Science (2000). Learning for Life: Paper on Adult Education. Dublin: Stationery Office.)
Benefits of continuous learning
With a good training program, you invest in individuals own ability to reach their potential. Employees are more likely to feel loyal to your organisation when they feel wanted. So, you are less likely to lose those whom you value highly. A survey taken amongst the millennial workforce found that 59% said professional development was paramount. There is an expectation for employers to invest in their ongoing professional development. Furthermore, 53% have been disappointed with the level of training they have gotten. Considering this generation will soon dominate the workplace, these are causes to consider.
Better equipped workforce
Investing in employees is a straightforward solution to the trouble of rehiring and retraining new ones. While research has shown 40% of employees will leave their job within the first year if they feel they lack the appropriate training for their role. But also, a learning culture can improve employee performance. It is easier to drive innovation with a knowledgeable workforce. Education allows you to develop new solutions to ongoing changes.
The more employees know and the more they can do, the more they will feel they can contribute and engage. Levels of employee engagement are at a worrying 15%. But it is no wonder as 17% of executives think increasing employee engagement is a priority. It can be difficult for people to do the same thing all the time if work-life becomes monotonous. Giving individuals an opportunity to learn something new builds engagement and productivity.
Create a culture of continuous learning.
Change is a constant. In the world of work, we must adapt to changes in technology, legislation, and society. When you invest in your people and their learning, you take a proactive approach to these changes. According to a survey, 54% of employees have said it is necessary to get further training to keep up with ongoing changes in the workplace. If you equip your employees with the chance to gain up-to-date knowledge and skills, they will be able to help you adapt to change.
However, learning requires self-motivation, so how do we build a culture in which constant learning is encouraged? Let us explore some ideas:
Lead by example
If you invest in your own personal and professional development, your employees will see how much you appreciate its worth. You are demonstrating that you are trying to help them instead of giving them more work. It also shows that you value learning, so your employees do not feel that taking time away from work to train is wrong.
Create a clear plan.
Any idea without a plan of action will not last. Set a learning goal for each individual and reward them when they achieve it. You create a positive culture and encourages individuals to engage in learning.
Provide time and resources.
What prevents continuous learning is a lack of time and resources. Make these available to employees to achieve a learning culture. By giving employees what they need to develop, you show them you are invested in them as individuals and are committed to their growth.
To prepare for change and get ahead of the curve, implementing a culture of continuous learning is vital. It takes time to implement and get everybody invested but achieving a functioning learning culture is a sure-fire way to seeing your organisation improve. You will see learning become a habit, so everyone is striving for self-improvement.
Always keep learning.
by Will Davis