25 Jul Adapting to a lifelong learning culture in your organization
“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day.”
– Richard Branson
Most people associate learning with attaining a formal education at school, college, university etc. From an early age, we are all told that we should ‘get a good education’, however, lifelong learning is far more than that. It is a mindset and a habit for people to acquire.
In both our workplace and personal life, it is important to continually keep our skills and knowledge up to date, giving us an edge in all that we do. It’s also only natural to have a desire to learn, to adapt to change, to enrich and fulfil our lives.
By embracing a lifelong learning culture, organizations can develop better, more engaged and effective employees. When organizations value and encourage learning, employees will in turn bring fresh new ideas to the table, they will always be updated on changing regulations, technologies and other updates in their fields, as well as allowing the organization to be agile.
Indeed, learning new skills and gaining a deeper understanding of one’s field is essential to professional success. Lifelong learning should be part of the job, whatever the job may be. Organizations must help foster a learning culture, by providing the resources, tools and time to facilitate the learning of new skills and reward those who display the propensity to adapt to change.
In turn, these people need to be given roles that allow them to further develop that culture within the organization. Lifelong learning should be part of their overall DNA, and should be clearly embedded into their vision, mission and values.
The following are a few tactics that can be implemented to create a culture of learning in your organization:
Define Your Organization’s Learning Goals
Make learning a part of goal setting with employees. In any set period, encourage them to set at least one to two goals around a learning objective. This objective can be directly related to what they do or it could be something that will help them in the future. The supervisors and managers of employees need to support them in this effort by checking-in on their progress during periodic one-on-ones and finding ways to help.
Limited training budgets challenges
Most organizations are struggling with the cost of learning. There are many things that can help, such as technology and the availability of e-learning and other self-directed learning methods, whilst job shadowing and on the job coaching can also be good alternative solutions. Organizations can also create small book libraries and distribute books and other literature to employees to read.
Budget constraints can be a challenge, however, taking advantage of subsidies offered by authorities and planning ahead so as to take advantage of special fees can make a huge difference. It should not be forgotten that investing in employees will pay dividends in the form of a more dedicated, engaged and educated workforce. Should you need assistance in planning to enjoy some of the financial savings please contact a member of our team.
Weekly light meetings
In addition to skills required for their job employees will often have other skills and knowledge that could prove beneficial to the organization.
By providing a friendly relaxed environment, perhaps short weekly “get-together” meetings with snacks and drinks, people will have the opportunity to share their own knowledge with others. This can be a fun learning activity that benefits everyone.
Connect employees online
Use of internal social employee ecosystems can help interactions between employees and provide a place where people can share experiences or find answers to questions. There are several cloud based free or paid platforms that can be implemented in organizations. Success of such initiative will depend on usability, support to get started and then a few evangelists that can help ‘promote’ use of the system to all employees.
Acknowledge the results
For employees who take advantage of learning opportunities, organizations must ensure that they take the time to acknowledge their achievements and explain how it’s helping their team and the business overall, thus encouraging them to continue learning, as well as showing others its importance.
“Unlike other capital investments, the value of learning appreciates rather than depreciates.”
– Dr Christopher Lee
We live in a constantly changing business environment, with many organization feeling the pressure to keep up with these changes to stay ahead of the competition. To achieve this, developing a culture of learning can no longer be a secondary priority, as this will secure happy, engaged employees that will ultimately allow the business to succeed.
By adopting a robust approach to lifelong learning, organizations can enable employees to thrive in their careers while investing in their long-term success. Such organizations will have the competitive edge needed to get ahead in the modern knowledge‐based business world.
When employees are active learners on the job, they see challenges more clearly, get more creative and strategic in their problem solving and ultimately work smarter with better results.