Once upon a time, workers learned a skill or trade, found a job, and more or less worked at the same desk from that day forth. After many years of successful performance, they retired, and someone else sat at that very same desk for many years until they retired. The cycle continued.
Job in Today’s World
Today’s workforce has a great appreciation for job stability, but they also want more out of a job. They want to expand their knowledge, and either become experts in their field, or receive a more well-rounded appreciation for how their industry works beyond their own skill set.
Interestingly enough, continuous learning in the business environment can be extremely beneficial for the business itself.
Previously, it was thought that each worker was a cog in the machine, providing one skill that helped move the process along.
This assembly-line version of business can be very successful in some environments, but in many situations, it provides plenty of opportunity for error.
If the person in charge of X task is out of the office for an extended period, or the person who does Y takes another job, the whole flow can break down quickly, much to your customers’ dismay.
Continuous learning is one way to ensure that your team is not only prepared to work in a collaborative style, but increases overall engagement and job satisfaction, as well as increases communication.
But how can you create a continuous learning culture for your team? It turns out there are a lot of moving parts that need to be addressed.
Encouraging Continuous Learning
Everyone benefits from continuous learning. Workers who are kept informed of processes and trends in their industry feel more engaged in what they do.
Furthermore, staying on the cutting edge helps everyone identify changes and updates. The very way you do business depends on all of your team members understanding what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what the customer expects, which changes all the time.
When all of your team members are equally informed, they have an advantage when it comes to collaboration and communication.
Each person on your team is going to understand and appreciate information in a different way, and these perspectives are how problem solving is achieved in the first place.
A team that openly collaborates is going to be more content in their role, feel more valued as an employee, and less likely to jump ship.
Why Your Team Must Evolve
Consider the alternative: those who are not informed about the latest and greatest methods, ideas, and concepts in your niche will keep doing the same thing over and over again.
Eventually, this repeated process will not work, because it no longer makes sense to the customer base. Take a look at advertisements from as recently as the 1980s. Would they work today?
Continuous learning prevents your team from being left behind and frustrated as their efforts get them nowhere in a changing business world.
Therefore, as a business owner, it’s important to provide your teams with learning experiences, and to be open to a variety of options and input.
How To Create A Continuous Learning Culture
According to nearly every study on the topic of continuous learning, many employees and employers alike are on board with the idea of continuous learning, but very few actually engage in the process.
Why? There are many obstacles involved, mostly centered around available time, resources, and finding value in that which is available.
As an employer, be sure to create time for your teams to learn. Obviously, time is a very precious commodity for anyone.
Taking time off a project for learning can create time crunches and unnecessary stress, while very few employees will be excited to use their own free time on “work stuff”.
Choosing the Right Training and Incentivizing Learning
Therefore, it’s important that you carve out time for employees to learn. Instead of choosing 6-week programs that might require hours and hours of study and course time, consider programs that won’t have to be shoved onto the back burner frequently, like full day lectures, or immersive conferences.
Sure, you’ll lose the employee’s productivity for a day or two while they’re out learning, but they’ll return full of information and a renewed vigor to try out their new skills.
This will not only demonstrate to them that you value their growth, but will remove the burden of stress that can be added when you require so many educational credits in addition to high-quality work on tight deadlines.
Additionally, you can incentivize learning. This can take many different shapes. Some employers offer a bonus for completing continuous education courses.
Others create fun goals, like group pizza parties or outings based on team completion of a specific course. Some employees choose to make learning a requirement, withholding advancement or raises until certain educational milestones are met.
Depending on your business’s culture, some of these options may be more encouraging than others.
You can also bring awareness to both complacency and opportunity. Many people skip out on chances for valuable continuous learning because they don’t see the value in it.
As a leader, it’s your job to help workers understand how important it is to continue to grow in their role, in your business, and in the industry as a whole.
Not only does their career success depend on it, but the outcome for your business depends on it as well!
Are You Creating a Continuous Learning Culture?
Inspiring your team to pursue continuous learning options can seem futile. However, by creating an overall business culture that values progress and education, you can encourage each team member to value not only the results of learning more, but the process, as well.
Make sure each team member has adequate time and resources to explore further education, and make it worth their while, as well.
We live in a world where work methodologies continuously evolve and everyone is busy all of the time, but education can not only make us more productive, but more engaged in our jobs and business as well.
Everyone loves to feel empowered by greater knowledge, so by creating a continuous learning culture for your teams, you’re truly investing in the future success of your team members and your business as a whole.