Published: April 07, 2015 | Comments
Although training programs are the best method of developing human capital, they can be costly and limited in their agility. Static training programs are slow to adapt to change in the business world, which means that skill sets can become outmoded in a short period of time.
In contrast, continuous learning is an adaptable and flexible process that continues day-by-day on an undefined time frame. Continuous learning has been recognized as one of the best ways to ensure that employees have access to consistent skill development through self-directed learning, and regular participation from trainers, employees and managers.
Continuous learning is a vital aspect of corporate training as it can boost employee engagement when pay increases have slowed, and ensure employee retention through providing room for advancement and opportunities for building a tangible skill set.
A continuous learning approach also has the benefit of being more flexible and having better long-term outcomes as those who engage in it tend to be more confident, more willing to contribute, and therefore better equipped to be successful in their jobs. Here are three ways to make continuous learning work for your organization:
1. Create an Enabling Environment
Continuous leaning is focused on the long term, and therefore a culture that promotes learning and training in the long-term is a vital aspect of the implementation and success of such a program. Ensure that the tools for training and learning- such as online tutorials and modules- are readily available to employees. WalkMe is an excellent tool for continuous workplace learning. It's also important to ensure that those engaged in the process are receiving consistent feedback. Encourage managers to see themselves as continuous learning ambassadors who confirm the importance of constant improvement, and who provide direction, feedback, and positive reinforcement to those involved. Regular assessment is also necessary so that both employees and trainers can see tangible positive results for their efforts. Creating an environment that is focused on long-term learning will give employees initiative and drive to engage in continuous learning.
2. Set Measurable Long-Term Learning Goals, and Reward Milestone Completion
Once you have a culture of continuous skill development in place, choose targets that are a win-win for both the company and the individual. Shared goals will encourage loyalty and build community within the organization. Breaking long-term goals down into smaller milestones is also a great plan, as doing so makes the learning process less daunting and makes participation and follow-up feel like less of a grind for learners. Rewards can include virtual certificates or badges that the learner can upload to their learning plan or social media, or a traditional reward like a small gift or a lunch out. Rewarding people for their hard work will help ensure more of the same.
3. Seek Out Good Trainers to Foster Personalized Learning
Training is no longer seen as a one-time event, which means that it can be tailored to suit individual needs. One of the advantages to a continuous learning approach to training is the ability to accommodate different learning styles and paces, which will help people retain information and apply it more effectively in the long term. Good trainers must be open to using different approaches depending on the employees they are teaching. Continuous learning allows for this, as the long timeline allows both the employee and the trainer to see development, recognize problematic areas, and foster improvement. Employees grow and develop better with guidance the whole way through rather than just at the beginning.
In order to make continuous learning work for you, it is important to have a well-articulated plan and tangible learning goals. With these, you can reassess and rebuild your corporate training architecture so as to ensure that employees are continually updating existing skill sets, learning new skills, and applying these new tools to improving their work and thereby the organization as a whole. Directing training toward the long term ensures that it can be maximized.