No matter what industry you’re in, having a continuous learning mindset is a competitive advantage both for individual employees and for the company as a whole. Teams that demonstrate a willingness to continuously learn and improve are much better equipped to capitalize on advancements in technology and adapt to changing laws and regulations.
Read on to discover what is continuous learning in the workplace, and how and why you can implement it in your own organization.
What is continuous learning?
Continuous learning is the practice of learning, expanding on, and reinforcing your knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis. Continuous learning can also be referred to as continual learning or lifelong learning, and applies to both personal and professional development.
What is continuous learning in the workplace?
Continuous learning in the workplace is the practice of constantly learning and improving the skills that an employee needs to carry out their job. Beyond the skills that apply directly to the work they perform in the present, employees can also practice continuous learning by acquiring new skills that will propel them forward in their professional development.
Why is continuous learning important?
While traditional learning in the form of a university degree, trade school, or apprenticeship is highly effective and critical for employees to kick off their professional careers, people inevitably forget a significant amount of the information they learn in these settings as time goes on. This phenomenon is known as the forgetting curve.
To ensure that employees retain critical skills and knowledge that help them in their jobs, it is important that they are constantly reminded of what they were taught both in school and during their onboarding. Aside from keeping their job skills sharp, it can be a differentiating factor for employees to stay up to date with market trends, new innovations, and relevant technologies that have an impact in their job and industry.
Benefits of continuous learning in the workplace
Continuous learning is very important for individuals, especially when it comes to personal development. But how can your company as a whole reap the benefits if you decide to implement continuous learning strategies? Here are just some of the many advantages that are a result of establishing a culture of continuous learning:
1. Higher employee performance
It’s only natural that companies with continuous learning opportunities and ongoing training initiatives experience higher employee performance. A survey by TalentLMS found that 91% of companies that offered upskilling and reskilling training to their employees reported experiencing a boost in productivity.
Aside from increasing productivity, continuous learning also reduces the likelihood of mistakes on the job that cost the company both in terms of time lost, and money spent on materials and equipment.
2. Increased engagement and employee retention
While there are a lot of factors that contribute to an employee’s decision to leave their company, a lack of feeling invested in is a significant driver that management can do a lot to combat. One of the most significant things you can do to boost employee engagement and retention is to offer upskilling, reskilling, and continuous learning opportunities. These are opportunities that employees value and want, with 66% reporting the joy of learning new things and developing new skills is their top reason for upskilling.
Offering continuous learning opportunities in the workplace is especially critical for companies with deskless workers, as it is commonplace for these employees to have significantly less learning opportunities than their deskbound counterparts. A survey by TalentCards asked 600 frontline employees if access to additional training would help them feel more connected to their company’s values and missions, and 63% reported yes.
Taking the time to implement a continuous learning culture is a low-cost investment that can give your company a competitive advantage, not only driving down employee attrition, but making your company the place where field employees want to be.
3. Improved safety and compliance
While every job has its risks, it’s no secret that safety and compliance matters hold much more weight in deskless industries than they do in deskbound ones. In fact, in a survey of 900 managers working in deskless industries, 32% reported that their companies have experienced an accident due to improper employee training.
This shows us that not only is it important to have a continuous learning program in place that keeps employees up to date on safety protocols, regulations, and best practices, but also that this training needs to be easily accessible and recurring so that employees internalize it.
4. Greater company adaptability
By having a mechanism in place to facilitate continuous learning (whether that’s recurring instructor led training, an LMS, or a mobile learning platform), you make it easier to keep all employees up to date on market trends and industry advancements.
Beyond this, a culture of continuous learning lays the groundwork to identify top performers and leaders within the company, and to promote from within as your company grows. Instead of having to hire from the outside as critical positions open up, you can train employees within the company and give hard working team members the opportunity for growth, and the incentive to stay.
Strategies for implementing continuous learning in your company
1. Evaluate your training needs
First things first: no matter what kind of training program you’re trying to implement in your company, you need to first identify the areas and topics that employees actually need training in. Perhaps there are quite a few, so start with the ones that are most critical. Perhaps it’s a safety reminder course, training on a newly released product, or instruction on a new company process. When you’re putting together this training resource make sure that you present it in a way that lends itself to being repeatable— this is a core characteristic of continuous learning.
2. Set clear objectives
These training objectives should outline both what the learner will have accomplished, and how this continuous learning example benefits the company as a whole. By having measurable objectives you’ll be able to evaluate the impact your initiative will make.
3. Choose the right learning platform
Just because it’s called continuous learning doesn’t mean it needs to be a continuous demand on your time (or your training manager’s time). Once you’ve created and curated the training content for this initiative, you’ll need a way to automate the distribution of this training material.
With TalentCards you can create microlearning courses that are perfect for continuous learning, share them with employees to access via their smartphones, and set up automated push notifications to remind learners to regularly refer to their material.
Deliver continuous learning with the mobile training app your teams will love
4. Track learning outcomes
Remember to track learning outcomes of your initiative based on the objectives you set. Measuring the impact of the initiative is important both for employees to be able to see their own progress and growth, as well as for the company to measure its return on investment from the time, effort, and resources put into the program.
Examples of continuous learning
Microlearning courses are short, bite-sized courses that take under 10 minutes to complete. Their short length is what makes them a great fit for continuous learning— they deliver the information your teams need to know, without interrupting the work day or demanding too much time.
Mobile courses are learning courses that are designed to be completed from a mobile device. Mobile courses and microlearning often go hand in hand, and can consist of video files in addition to text and image files.
Many companies find it impactful to host on-the-job training sessions once a month where senior members or staff help the team brush up on their existing job skills, and then take those skills one step further by introducing new techniques and concepts each session to build on.
Cross-training in a work environment is when an employee who works in one area of the business trains employees who are working in a separate area of the business. For example, in retail the warehouse manager might train the sales representatives on the basics of stocking and keeping inventory, placing orders, etc. The purpose of this exercise is for employees in the business to become familiar with the other roles, even if they’re not directly responsible for the execution of these other jobs. Implementing this kind of continuous learning fosters a sense of teamwork in the company as each employee gains an understanding of how everyone contributes to the bottom line in their own way.
What is a continuous learning mindset?
A continuous learning mindset is an approach to learning that focuses on the ongoing development of skills and knowledge. People who embody a continuous learning mindset make it a point to always be improving and expanding on their knowledge by actively seeking out learning opportunities. Companies can help their employees build a continuous learning mindset by making it easy for them to access relevant training material on the job.
Continual learning— an investment with continuous return
By fostering a culture of continuous learning you’ll create a team whose skills are always improving and expanding, and a productive environment where employees feel invested in. When executed well, continuous learning is neither boring nor intrusive— instead, it gives your team members a chance to develop their professional skills and excel in the company in the long term.
- Continuous learning is an effective mechanism to combat the forgetting curve and ensure that employees’ skills remain sharp and continue to grow
- Employees consistently report that they prefer to work for employers that offer development opportunities, and deskless employees feel more connected to their companies when they have access to training.
- The first step to setting up a continuous training program is to identify the areas where employees would most benefit from training.
- You can implement continuous learning in your company in the form of microlearning, mobile courses, on-the-job training, and cross-training sessions.