As the workforce evolves, so must the way we approach employee development. Gone are the days of one-and-done training sessions, replaced by the need for ongoing learning opportunities that keep employees engaged and up-to-date. Solely relying on your employees’ certifications and degrees to help achieve your organization’s goals might hinder your growth. Therefore, investing in employees’ knowledge is what every serious-minded manager must do.
Employees desire jobs that’ll challenge them and help them grow. Also, organizations want employees who’ll be loyal to them, be the best at their jobs, and stick around with them for a long time. Ongoing learning opportunities in a workplace produce both of these outcomes. Thus, if you are all out to adopt ongoing learning practices in your organization, this is where you need to be. In this blog, we explore the keys to providing ongoing learning opportunities that will foster growth, boost morale, and keep your team at the forefront of their industry.
Ways To Encourage Ongoing Learning Opportunities For Your Employees
Below are some ways to encourage your employees to learn continually:
Permit Your Employees To Self-Direct Their Learning Style
Sometimes, you might need to dictate to your employees what you think they should learn. Other times, it’s best to question your employees on what and how they’ll like to learn. Make the most of your employees’ interests by encouraging them to self-direct their learning. This approach is more advantageous than it appears. Not only will your employees have a greater sense of their learning needs, but they will also know the training that best works for them.
Architect Your Employees’ Learning Plan
As a manager, you can aid your employees in defining their career objectives since you are more experienced. Assist them and outline what they should learn to achieve their objectives. For instance, if an employee needs greater enlightenment in the budgetary procedure, you can assign them beginner-friendly courses on budgetary procedure. Be sure to check the eLeaP courses library for suitable content for your teams. You can also give them access to self-enroll on such a platform so they can search for and register for courses they find interesting and valuable. Another great option is to invite the employee to budget-planning meetings.
Collaborate with your employees to design individual development plans with activities, targets, milestones, and endpoints. Recognize, encourage, and reward employees that achieve developmental milestones. Be intentional about following up with them to ask about their lessons from recent experiences and assignments.
Provide An Accessible Platform For Retrieving Learning Assets
As a manager looking to empower your employees to continue learning, you need to ease their burden and make the process more convenient. You can offer your employees online portals like eLeaP, where they can get training courses and educational resources. In addition, you can create an on-site resource library that contains educational materials within your organization.
Host Internal Learning Opportunities Regularly
It would be best if you host weekly, monthly, and quarterly roundtable conversations on various topics and subject matter that are relevant to your industry and organization. Encourage your employees to discuss their thoughts and share their experiences. Invite speakers to engage and inform your employees. You can also organize webinars where you educate your employees. All these new ideas, knowledge, and experience tapped from the meetings help to keep your employees on their feet to continue to pursue more knowledge.
Identify Suitable External Learning Opportunities
If you want to offer your employees more options outside your organization, you should introduce them to external learning opportunities. These could be conferences, training courses, or webinars hosted by industry associations, local business groups, certification organizations, or academic institutions.
Create Opportunities For Them To Shine And Stretch Themselves
Typically, we learn while “doing.” Select specific individuals, according to their interests, backgrounds, potential, and capabilities, to lead projects or take up greater team responsibilities. This could be in areas where they have showcased passion or skill and need visibility and more experience to advance upward or areas that accommodate them to develop new skills and expertise and expand their influence and network.
Encourage Peer Learning
There is a lot that subordinates can learn from themselves. It would help if you persuaded your employees to pair up and share ideas and knowledge internally. One employee might be an expert at a particular skill that another is an amateur at. As an added advantage, peer learning can boost team engagement and camaraderie. It can also protect your organization against loss of skills or knowledge if an expert employee takes an extended leave of absence or quit.
Cultivate Learners In Your Organization
In an organization, it’s not uncommon to find employees resistant to change. It’s up to you, as a manager, to overcome their objections and change their mindsets. Although changing these employees’ perspectives might be challenging, attaching the mastery of some skills to promotion and salary increments, getting familiar with them on a deeper level, and conducting periodic check-ins to assess their progress might be helpful.
In that same organization, you’ll find some employees who love and are eager to learn new things. Depend on them to spread enthusiasm and positive energy. Their attitudes can be contagious; they are the learning culture champions in your organization.
The Risk of Not Adopting Ongoing Learning Practices
It is easy to focus on day-to-day tasks to get past jobs. Many assume they are doing fine and wonder why they must step out of their peaceful comfort zone and rock the boat. If an organization is too comfortable letting ongoing learning opportunities fall by the wayside, the following are bound to happen:
- The organization becomes complacent and stagnant.
- Such an organization struggles to meet up with competitors in its industry.
- They may fall out of compliance and risk losing certifications.
- The organization misaligns with customer expectations.
- They become irrelevant in the industry and lose out on uplifting business opportunities.
- They suffer diminished revenue.
Trends keep evolving, and employees have to polish up to remain relevant and competitive; there is always something new to learn. Constant upskilling is not just a buzzword; it is the new normal. You should, however, note that before employees embark on any learning opportunity, you should ascertain its value and relevance to your organization, understand the learning objectives and be capable of confirming the employee’s mastery of the new skill and knowledge – especially if its completion is attached to promotion or salary increment.
It happens more often than companies like to admit. They send their employees for training. They put a huge dent in their training budget to cover the cost of the trainer, the course materials and the travel expenses for employees to attend the training. Employees attend the training but one or two years later, it is as if the training never occurred.
Part of the problem is that training is an ongoing process, not just a one-hit wonder. Use these strategies to provide ongoing learning opportunities to your employees so that education is a continuous process.
Web-based Refresher Courses
The first option is to offer web-based refresher courses. These refresher courses can be taken online so that employees do not have to travel out-of-the-office or the area where they live to attend the refresher courses. Rather than start from scratch, refresher courses remind attendees of the concepts and skills they acquired during their previous training session. These courses can also build on existing skills and knowledge acquired in the original course by offering up-to-date information. Refresher courses should be on a set schedule, such as every year or every other year so that it instills ongoing learning.
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Certification and Re-certification
Another way to offer continuous learning opportunities to employees is to offer an additional incentive. You can do this by offering certification to employees that attend certain training courses. Some companies even require certification from its employees. For those employees that opt for or are required to earn certification, re-certification is another requirement. Re-certification courses permit employees to attend ongoing training courses on a set schedule in order to keep their certification.
Combine Certification and College Credits
Another incentive is to combine certification credits with college credits. For employees that attend specific training courses, they also earn credits toward earning a college degree. Jiffy Lube, Starbucks, and McDonalds are a few companies that offer this benefit to its employees. Employees at Jiffy Lube can earn their certifications through the JLU, which they can also apply to earn college credits. The American Council on Education (ACE) evaluated the curriculum for the JLU certifications to ensure it met a certain standard level. They allow students to earn seven semester hours of college credit if they complete all of the 10 JLU certification courses.
Jiffy Lube also has a partnership with the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). For those employees that earn the seven semester hours of college credits with ACE can complete three business courses at UMUC, which applies toward earning a certificate in business fundamentals. For those students that wish to pursue a college degree, the college also offers them a discount on their tuition.
Ongoing training opportunities are just as important as the original opportunities you offer to your employees. You can use your creativity to come up with ways to offer employees ways to continue learning new skills and refreshing existing ones. Additionally, the sky is the limit on how you structure the training program so that it offers incentives for employees to continue learning through training.