The best employees are curious—they want to learn. They want to know why, how much, how come, how things work, and how things can be improved. And they’re constantly looking for ways to add value by applying that learning to their work. Yet encouraging employees’ natural curiousity and building a culture of continuous learning often takes a backseat to checking off items on a never-ending to-do list. It’s hard to set aside time for learning when there’s a thousand things that needed to be done by yesterday, and there’s often a reluctance to participate in learning initiatives if the return on investment isn’t clear.
But organizations that prioritize learning are better able to adapt, which translates into a big competitive edge. As well, demonstrating a commitment to continuous learning is a valuable engagement and retention tool—businesses that invest in developing and training employees tend to keep them. Need more convincing? Continuous learning also helps employees tap into their full potential, improves performance, creates significance, drives innovation, and fuels personal fulfillment. In short, it’s worth the time and money.
Here are six simple practices to promote a culture of continuous learning in your organization:
1. Remove barriers. To create a culture shift, it’s important to get everyone on the same page. Get reluctant employees on board with continuous learning by removing barriers and making the process as painless as possible. Find out what’s getting in the way and address those issues. For example, employees may be hesitant to engage in learning if they’re feeling stressed or overworked. If they’re in survival mode and time is a concern, collaborate to come up with a plan and block out training time well in advance to minimize anxiety.
For more tips on supporting mental health at work, Click Here.
2. Tailor learning. One size fits all fits no one. It’s true for clothes, and it’s true for learning. Different positions in an organization will have different training requirements, and everyone learns in different ways. Consider different learning styles and interests, and be flexible with your approach. Rather than signing everyone up for the same seminars each year and having a set-in-stone number of dollars available, tailor learning to individual needs and interests by promoting a wide variety of training opportunities and assessing Pro-D requests on a case-by-case basis.
3. Keep an open mind. Employee wants to attend a training session that doesn’t necessarily seem like an exact match to their job duties? Don’t automatically say no. If it’s a topic that could tangentially be related to their job, have them pitch it to you. Get them to spell out how it will improve job performance or contribute to a new opportunity down the line.
4. Share the knowledge. Get the most bang for your training buck by having employees guide a mini lunch and learn post-training to share what they’ve learned with the rest of your organization. People want to know what their coworkers are doing, so this is also a great opportunity for employees to connect while sharing ideas.
5. Keep it relaxed. Learning doesn’t always have to mean attending formal classes or seminars. It can be as simple as hosting regular roundtable discussions or brainstorm sessions over coffee. These informal talks are a great way to get familiar with each person’s expertise and better use the talent and resources we already have at our fingertips!
6. Provide the resources. Continuous learning is a process. Make it easy for employees to work learning into their day. Build a staff library, circulate interesting articles regularly, host networking events in your professional community, and encourage your team to sign up for bulletins from professional associations.
Your Engaged HR Assignment: Building a culture of continuous learning takes time, but the payoff is worth it. Start today by sending out an interesting article to your team during work hours to let them know that taking “learning breaks” is encouraged!
We’d love to hear from you! What do you do to support a culture of continuous development in your workplace?