Competition has always been the cornerstone of business. Companies prevail when they consistently outpace their rivals in productivity, efficiency, and service. They thrive when they are able to reliably provide customers with a product and service experience that is second to none.
To say the least, staying at the top of your game in this way is not easy. To consistently perform at peak levels, you need employees who are doing the same. Complacency kills your competitive positioning. Cultivating a culture of continuous learning is vital to your company’s ability to survive and thrive in an ever-evolving and increasingly competitive global marketplace.
Why Continuous Learning Matters
Far too often, adults presume that simply because they’ve grown up, gotten their education, and launched their career, their education is over. The reality, however, is that the need for continuous learning is greater than perhaps it has ever been.
You need only to consider the breakneck pace of innovation today to understand why. Every day, astonishing new technologies are flooding the market. Every hour, researchers are expanding the repository of human knowledge. Every minute, people gain new capabilities, absorb more information, and expand the scope of their responsibilities.
This means that if your employees aren’t moving forward in their skills and abilities, then your company is falling behind, becoming less innovative, less productive, less agile, and less cost-efficient.
Despite the obvious advantages of ongoing professional education, that does not mean that a culture of continuous learning will emerge organically in your organization. After all, learning may be rewarding and empowering but it is also difficult. Your employees may be reluctant to take on yet another challenging responsibility when they are already tasked with managing the obligations of work and home.
This is why it is incumbent upon business leaders and HR specialists to incentivize continuous learning for employees. This might include, for example, tuition remission, paid time off to attend classes and study, and the potential for bonuses, pay raises, and promotions with each new job-related degree or certification earned.
Motivating Through Career Planning
Employee career planning can be a particularly effective way to cultivate a continuous learning culture in your workplace. Not only can the prospect of advancement within your organization be immensely motivating, but so can the sense of company loyalty and professional empowerment career planning provides.
When your company demonstrates its long-term commitment to its employees, a commitment that includes a tangible investment in their career advancement, then they’re more likely to take on the added responsibility of continuing education. The payoff doesn’t just benefit the company, it also benefits the worker.
And these are not the only beneficiaries. Employees who are highly educated and rigorously trained are going to perform better. This enhanced performance brings value not just to the company but also to the customer. As your workforce increases its cumulative knowledge and skill set, it’s the customer, perhaps, who will reap the greatest reward in regard to service and satisfaction. Knowledgeable employees help customers get the most out of what your company offers.
Unleashing the Power of Microlearning
As beneficial as the opportunity for career advancement and other tangible regards may be in fostering a strong learning environment, this alone may not be sufficient. There are numerous instances in which your company may need employees to update or refresh their knowledge without undertaking something as rigorous as a certification program.
In such cases, microlearning techniques can be highly effective. Microlearning enables employees to continuously update their skills in the face of an ever-changing business environment.
At the same time, because microlearning involves the use of brief, highly manageable learning modules as opposed to complex and comprehensive courses, the learning process does not overwhelm your employees. As a result, they’re more likely to be more engaged with the microlesson, retain more of the material, and enjoy a more positive learning experience overall.
This, in turn, can motivate employees to undertake additional elective microlessons. The efficiency of the lessons and the accessibility of the content on mobile platforms means that employees can learn on their own time, whenever and wherever they choose. They may watch an educational video on their mobile phone while waiting to pick the kids up from school or complete a training exercise while on their lunch break.
Highlighting the Company’s Evolutions
When you’re attempting to foster a culture of continuous learning, it’s important to underscore the evolving needs of your organization. Companies are dynamic entities. Their needs evolve with the evolutions of the market, the operating environment, and even the internal dynamics of the organization.
A particularly important example of this is the continuous evolution of cybersecurity practices within an organization. Cyber threats are always changing, emerging in new forms and with ever-increasing degrees of sophistication. Employees, no matter their particular job function, must continuously be retrained and refreshed to remain vigilant against these hazards.
Continuous cybersecurity training is only one example, albeit a critical one, of the direct link between the company’s needs and the employees’ skills, as well as of the connection between the company’s success and that of its employees.
Cultivating a culture of continuous learning is essential to ensure that not only does your company thrive but so do your employees. To foster a strong learning environment within your organization, however, it is important to draw on a range of techniques to motivate your employees, from financial incentives to career planning programs. For the rapid acquisition of new skills or the updating of existing ones, microlearning techniques can also offer an attractive option for promoting continuous learning without overwhelming or overburdening your employees.