Organizations that are serious about staying competitive and relevant now and in the future must take deliberate steps to create a culture that engenders continuous learning across the organization. With the unprecedented rate of change in the business landscape in modern times, organizations cannot afford a nonchalant approach to employee learning and development. This article provides useful and practical insights for organizational leaders to create an environment that engenders continuous learning and growth.
Learning is an ongoing activity that leads to development. Through intentional learning, employees can create concepts, ideas and innovative solutions. Now more than ever before, organizations must rethink their learning strategy. Top-quartile organizations know the importance of learning, hence they approach it keenly and invest significantly in tested and proven learning interventions.
To keep up with fast-paced advancements in today’s business world, employees need more frequent and easily accessible development opportunities to acquire new skills and knowledge in their areas of expertise and interest. According to Bersin by Deloitte, 76% of millennials think professional development opportunities are one of the most important elements of company culture. Employees in organizations that do not have a deliberate strategy to create a learning culture are very likely to experience lower engagement and poorer performance than their counterparts. In contrast, the organizations that invest in continuous learning are able to assist employees reach their full potential, engender their creativity and inspire them to succeed. To stay relevant in the modern times, organizations embrace a culture of continuous learning.
Continuous learning implies a constant state of gaining new knowledge and skills on a regular basis, through various forms – formal, informal and social learning. Continuous learning ensures employees have the right capabilities to perform excellently to meet up with the critical needs of the business. Organizations that create a culture of continuous learning tend to be industry leaders.
At the Individual level, continuous learning is about enhancing one’s ability to learn and develop regularly by seeking new ways to improve one’s capabilities within a given field (or sets of fields). Individuals who are committed to continuous learning are able to adapt to changes in the work environment and tend to rise faster within their organizations.
At the Organizational level, continuous learning involves institutionalising learning as a part of the organization’s DNA. Organizations must build learning into their processes such that learning occurs deliberately. Embracing a culture that engenders talent development plays a major role in ensuring that organizations build a formidable team and a strong talent pipeline.
Building trust and keeping employees committed and engaged is a critical benefit for organizations that take company-wide learning seriously. Continuous learning is an appropriate channel for organization to show their commitment to investing in their most important asset – employees.
Benefits of Continuous Learning to the organization
A study by CIPD performed in 2015, showed that organizations with a culture of learning and personal development were amongst the highest performing companies. In return, they attracted more talented employees which led to improved service delivery and more satisfied customers. Some of the benefits of investing in continuous learning are:
- Improved Employee Performance – A focus on continuous development speeds up productivity, efficiency and profitability for the organization. Organizations that invest significantly in learning initiatives tend to experience higher performances from their employees.
- Fosters Creativity – The more employees are well-grounded with new skills, the more they can make meaningful contribution to the success of the organization. Continuous learning ignites the creative abilities of employees. The more knowledgeable employees are, the more they can generate innovative solutions to the modern-day challenges that beset their organizations.
- Employee Engagement – Strategic learning interventions are useful to engender employee engagement. Organizations must ensure that every learning intervention is deliberately designed to address critical business needs while ensuring employees are fully involved and committed to learn.
- Knowledge Retention – A very good advantage of continuous learning is that employees can review multiple times as they learn, implement what is learnt, and regularly seek clarity. Making learning part of the everyday life of employees will significantly improve their ability to retain what is learnt.
What organizations can do to create a Culture of Continuous Learning
For organizations to successfully imbibe the culture of continuous learning, they must implement the right learning strategy and ensure that learning content is fit-for-purpose. Here are some things organizations can do to create a culture of continuous learning;
Identify Learning Gaps – The right amount of energy should be invested in properly identifying learning gaps before interventions are implemented. This ensures that the organization is investing in the right learning interventions and also helps to keep employees engaged and committed to learning.
Provide Learning Resources – Organizations should ensure that the appropriate materials required for learning are available and accessible when required. Where the materials are not available in-house, organizations can engage external providers. Learning cannot occur in the absence of the right materials.
Create Time – Organizations should make continuous learning a priority by encouraging employees to map out time for trainings on a regular basis. If time is not deliberately created for learning activities, years may go by. Deliberate steps must be taken to create time for learning activities as often as possible.
Encourage constant feedback – Employees must be given the opportunity to provide feedback on learning sessions. Feedback is a useful tool for continuous improvement. Organizations that are serious about growth take such feedback seriously and they take conscious effort to continuously improve.
Reward Committed Learners- organizations can create effective incentives to reward and encourage continuous learning. Such incentives must be well thought out to avoid the adverse effects that incentives may have on the long-run.
A learning organization is a growing organization, the need to create and maintain a culture of continuous learning cannot be overemphasised. Is your organization struggling to create a learning culture? Does your organization struggle to correctly diagnose the learning needs of employees? Does your organization desire to enhance the capabilities of employees to improve productivity and engagement? We can help you achieve all these and more, Contact us today – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Kennedia Consulting Limited is an HR Consulting firm offering services in Recruitment, Outsourcing, Learning and Development, HR Consulting and Financial Advisory. We deploy strategic interventions that are customized to fit the specific needs of individuals and organizations at large.
This article was written by Adeshola Adeoti (Learning and Development Officer) – Kennedia Consulting