Business environments, processes, technologies and best practices are constantly evolving.
This means that employee skills and experiences can rapidly become out-of-date. To be successful in business, you need to ensure employees adapt and develop their skills along with their changing environment. One-off, ad-hoc training sessions are no longer sufficient.
To stay ahead, employees need to be provided with continuous learning opportunities and staff should be encouraged to use their own initiatives for ongoing personal development.
If you would like to know more, this article takes a look at why ongoing training is important for the success of your company. It also explores some effective continuous learning strategies that you should consider implementing in your business.
Why is continuous learning important?
With a constantly changing marketplace, customer demands evolving and technologies developing, an employee’s skills can rapidly become outdated. Continuous learning ensures skills stay relevant and fresh to your business. It encourages employees to have a mindset that embraces change too, whether that’s as a result of new laws that have been introduced, new software that has been released or general industry developments.
Developing skills can also keep employees motivated and can help to avoid stagnation in the workplace. This can support your business in moving forward and continuing to innovate. Without this, your company could rapidly fall behind key competitors.
Supporting continuous learning right now also ensures your employees have the skills and expertise they need for the future. This, in turn, can minimise recruitment costs and reduce staff turnover. Creating a culture of continuous learning can even help you to attract the very best talent in your industry.
5 ways to promote continuous learning
There are many different ways that you can support employees in developing their knowledge and expertise. Here are five key strategies to consider:
1. Face-to-face coaching
One of the most common ways to provide continuous learning opportunities is by arranging face-to-face training. This could be at an external venue or at your own offices. Sessions can vary depending on your requirements and group sizes can be anywhere from large auditoriums with presentation style teaching, to personalised one-on-one learning.
2. Online-based learning
Another popular approach is online training, as it allows staff to carry out their learning at a time and place that suits them. It can fit around workloads and can be a cost-effective option, as it doesn’t require a physical trainer or any travel costs.
3. Mentoring programs
A mentoring program is where experienced team members work closely with newer, less experienced employees and pass down their knowledge. This helps to develop important skills. It also ensures that you retain valuable knowledge which has been learned through years of experience, which could be completely lost if those employees left the business, such as through retirement.
4. Lunch and learns
Supplement your learning program with lunch and learn sessions. This is a good opportunity for those inside your business, who have a passion for learning, to pass their knowledge onto others. You could also supplement this by inviting outside speakers. Don’t forget that you are asking employees to give up their personal time, so you may want to consider incentivising staff, such as by offering a free lunch.
5. Personal development
Continuous learning shouldn’t just fall on your business to initiate. Employees should be encouraged to seek out their own opportunities to upgrade their skills. These methods do not have to be time-consuming or costly. It can be as simple as listening to a relevant podcast, signing up to a free online webinar, attending an industry event, reading industry news via Twitter, or starting a blog.
Here are 15 great suggestions to consider, from Australia's
leading online education provider, Open Colleges.
What are the next steps?
Once you’ve committed to continuous learning in your business, work with your employees to develop personalised training plans which use a combination of the learning strategies above. These need to fit with each employee’s particular learning style, current knowledge gaps and future aspirations.
You should monitor progress to ensure employees are following their training plans. Getting everyone to participate can sometimes be a challenge. Some companies incentivise staff by offering rewards to those who carry out the most training for example. Review plans with employees regularly too, to ensure everyone is getting as much benefit from the process as possible.
Don’t just dismiss continuous learning because it takes time and costs money. View it as a powerful investment that is increasingly important to the success of your business.