As the founder of the JCPenney stores, James Cash Penney, aptly put it, “Growth is not by mere chance but a by-product of forces coming together.”
More and more companies these days realize the value of promoting lifelong learning principles to their employees. In fact, over 87 percent of employees in the country agree that the continual development of new skills is necessary to stay relevant in their careers.
Indeed, “upskilling” is no longer just a trend. It has become essential for companies across various industries these days.
It’s worth mentioning that there is a multitude of benefits for encouraging lifelong learning among workers. As employers provide continuous training for their employees, the latter becomes more productive and inspired. So essentially, both parties can reap benefits from lifelong learning.
How exactly can companies foster a culture of lifelong learning?
Ways to Encourage Your Employees to Engage in Lifelong Learning
These are some of the most practical ways employers can encourage lifelong learning culture among their employees.
1. Encourage Self-Direction Learning
While employers have to supervise and dictate to their employees what to learn, especially if it involves complicated training, it is sometimes better to let employees learn what they actually want to know.
Leverage your employees’ personal interests by allowing them to self-direct their learning. If they want to pursue a degree to become a doctor of business administration online, let them do so. Encourage employees to self-direct their learning, as they know better what their needs are and they are well aware of what type of training best suits them.
Nonetheless, if you want to have a bit of control over what they learn, you may set some limits in their learning choices. For example, you may provide certain books, specified suites of courses, and seminars that they could choose from.
2. Learning Goals on Par with Performance Goals
It is only natural for companies to highlight the value of job performance in the workplace environment. After all, isn’t it one of the major goals? Since that is how things typically run, learning goals are overshadowed by work goals.
However, if you want your company to truly unlock the benefits of lifelong learning, you have to make learning goals just as important as performance goals. During performance reviews, talk to your employees about their individual learning key performance indicators (KPIs) and milestones.
Make their learning goals as clear as their performance goals. To illustrate it, rather than just say “advance one’s project management skills,” make it concrete by saying “complete the course in project management.”
3. Connect with the Right Mentors
Learning is fun, but the journey is not always sunshine and butterflies. When the going gets tough, it is easy for employees to lose track and become demotivated.
A good way to keep employees engaged and motivated to continue their learning pursuits is through formal mentorship programs.
In a workplace setting, the most common choice of mentoring technique is through formal mentoring. This involves connecting employees (mentees) with more experienced or field experts (mentors).
Through this mentoring process, mentors can share their wisdom and help mentees better visualize their career plans and growth.
4. Offer Opportunities for Social Learning
According to the 70-20-10 rule, we only get 10 percent learning from formal learning, while we get 20 percent through “developmental relationships.” In essence, this means that people learn better when they learn in groups than learning individually.
You may foster social learning opportunities by adding some group learning activities to the mix. You can create a weekly office book club where employees get a chance to recommend books to read and discuss or simply brainstorm industry-related ideas.
Hosting casual learning lunches is also another great idea. Experts in the industry can share their ideas and experiences with your team over lunch.
5. Offer Resources
Employees are more driven to expand their learning if they know that learning resources are readily available. Thus, if your office could spare a corner or a room, you could turn this into a library.
Stock industry-related books, books for self-improvement, and skill-specific books. Having a limited physical space should not stop you from providing learning resources, too. You can simply opt for electronic books, audiobooks, and videos.
6. Do Casual Learning Check-Ins
One of the most efficient ways to encourage your employees to pursue lifelong learning is to take an interest in their efforts. Most often, we do not usually feel motivated to learn more because no one is taking any notice of our learning growth.
Take time to check on their learning progress casually. The more often you do these check-ins, the more motivated your employees become to advance further in their studies and do better in their work.
With the help of these pointers, see your employees’ progress and continually crave lifelong learning opportunities.