Building a Culture of Continuous Learning for All: Why It’s Crucial and How to Do It

The year 2020 has changed the way we communicate, the way we learn, and the way we conduct business, even sales and marketing! Businesses that could quickly pivot following COVID-19 were able to thrive while others had to wrap up their operations. A common theme with the businesses that pivoted was their ability to be agile, nimble, and resilient. But how do you build an agile and nimble organization? You do so by building a culture of continuous learning.

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A Perspective

Organizations today need their workforce to adopt a growth mindset where teams are encouraged to take risks and change and challenges are viewed as new opportunities for growth instead of a problem.  They also need their workforce to be innovative – to think creatively and to build solutions for real-world problems. To be innovative and adopt a growth mindset, the workforce needs to be in a continuous learning mode. Given that more than 50 percent of today’s jobs will probably disappear or change radically within 10 years, organizations today need to ensure that their workforce has relevant skills for jobs of the future.

As companies pursue efficiency, resiliency, and nimbleness for success, all leaders have a significant role to play. They not only have to now hire talent that has a growth mindset but also need to integrate continuous learning into the company’s culture so that they can build a strong leadership bench, drive employee engagement, retain top talent, and reduce attrition.

HR teams alone can’t build the culture of learning and innovation. They need to partner with business leaders across departments like Finance, Sales, Marketing to do this because the way that organizations model ideal leadership has shifted.

Today, organizations want every employee to be a leader – to be innovative, to lead with empathy, and to be customer-focused. This can only happen when business leaders lead by example. Employees need to see their leaders partake in enhancing their skills so that they are motivated and inspired to learn new skills. They also need support from their leaders to focus on their own development and growth.

When business leaders invest and commit to building a culture of continuous learning in their departments, they see increases in employee engagement and productivity. Their teams are now ready to take on new challenges with optimism and create customer experiences that help the business grow.

Taking the First Steps to Build a Culture of Continuous Learning

5 tips to support this effort:

  1. Identify key power skills that you need to develop in your workforce. While doing this, you need to think not just about the skills that you need today but also the skills that you may need in the future.
  2. Let the learner take charge. Different people learn differently. Today’s workforce is a diverse workforce with varied combinations of Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. They all have their preferred way of learning, and one style doesn’t fit all. Give them the flexibility to learn at their own pace and develop skills. Providing learning assets in multiple modalities is one way to do it.
  3. Create opportunities for on-the-job learning. We all strive for some sort of work-life integration, and carving time for learning can be difficult. Use platforms that provide just-in-time learning opportunities at work. Microlearnings are another great way to provide just-in-time learning opportunities.
  4. Make it social. People learn from experts, but they also learn from each other. Adopting a learning platform that allows your workforce to share learnings with each other helps build a culture of continuous learning.
  5. Support and encourage the personal learning goals of your workforce. This can be achieved by everyone on the team setting aside 15 to 30 minutes each day to learn.

2020 has shown us how resilient we can be, but it has also shown us how important continuous learning is to our success. To keep up with an ever-changing climate, stay current, and thrive, we must make learning a top priority for ourselves and our teams.

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